We probably all have an answer to this question. But I'll throw my two cents in and give you a couple of examples.
Maria set up her consulting practice seven years ago. Already an acknowledged expert in her field with wide-ranging, high-level connections, she was picky about the projects she chose to work on, and she turned down as much work as she accepted. Always planning to work on her own, she employed an administrative assistant to field her calls, submit her invoices, maintain her website, and so on. Commanding a high fee rate and always with a work surplus, Maria reached an ideal position that few consultants will ever attain.
Julie left her job in middle management with an electric utility and set up her own consulting company four months ago. Though she managed to get a small amount of work from her old employer, she struggled to get anything else. While competent in her line of work, she wasn’t well known, even in her field. Her main source of contacts was at the utility she used to work at, which of course was limited in both the scope and range of potential consulting work.
So, first question: are you a Maria or a Julie?
If you’re a Maria, work flows in the door for you, and obviously getting out there, developing marketing material, and making new contacts aren’t things you need to be overly concerned with. On the other hand, you may want to do a couple of speaking engagements now and again to keep your name at the forefront, but you probably do that anyway. Congratulations to you!
If you’re a Julie, one of your problems is that not many people know you, have heard of your company, recognize your range of capabilities, or know what benefit they may get from engaging you on a project. On this basis, even if they do stumble across you, you may be a risky proposition. From their perspective, why should they take a chance on you when they could use another consultant they’ve worked with before? This is a problem many consultants have, especially when they start out. In part, it’s solved by a series of marketing actions.
Most likely you fall somewhere in the middle between Maria and Julie. For you, regular marketing actions are key to keeping your business moving forward, maintaining your presence in the marketplace, and developing your scope of services. If you consider the typical breakdown of the consulting week, a general recommendation is that 20 percent of your time should be spent on marketing. It’s very easy to allow that to diminish to very little over time, which can cause major problems (unless you’ve become a Maria).
To my mind marketing is very important—critical, in fact—to the success of a consulting business. Market too little at your peril, and remember that the limit of peril is different depending on the development of your business. Marketing is also difficult because it’s general, and it’s usually difficult to extrapolate a direct line between your marketing actions and your sales. This means that it’s also possible to spend far too much time, effort, and money on marketing actions. It’s ideal to maintain the balance on an ongoing basis in a way that works for you.
Easy to say, difficult to do. More on marketing in my next post and, as always, welcome any insights.
As a highly experienced consultant and author of “Consulting Made Easy”, Adrian assists consultants, or would be consultants, to achieve success on their terms in their own consulting businesses. Adrian helps consultants increase their fee rates, find more clients, have more free time and have more fun.
Contact Adrian at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
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