Is This a Good Time for Consulting?

Saturday, July 5th, 2014

A logical question which leads consultants to other questions like these:

  • Are we in a continuing recovery or are we still just limping along, having pulled ourselves out of the worst economic decline in modern times?
  • Are the new jobs being created the kinds of jobs that a real recovery should produce?
  • What impact does this really have on opportunities for consulting?
Right time for consulting

Which way is the economy heading?

 

Consulting realities in a down economy

In a down economy, businesses tend to cut back. Managements are hesitant to add expensive staff for the long term. Instead, they turn to contract employees to meet immediate needs.

This short-term perspective  opens opportunities for people with specialized skills and problem-solving capabilities. Established consultants – especially those serving the small business (under 500 employees) and mid-sized companies are likely to find many opportunities.

Consulting realities in an up economy

Conversely, in a booming economy, companies are pressed by competition and scarcity of available candidates to fill specialized employment needs. This also creates opportunities for consulting.

Are there any bad times for consulting?

Probably, and certainly when viewed from an international perspective. But at any given time, your opportunities will be determined by the specialized skills and experience you have to offer, who needs them and where are they located.

But there’s one other factor that will decide how effectively you are able to take advantage of these opportunities.

Opportunities depend on marketing skills

For the most part, there are always likely to be opportunities for the qualified consultant who does a professional job of marketing for his or her services.

Next to your skill set, your marketing skills are the major factor in determining your success in identifying, locating and attracting clients. We continue to explore various strategies, tactics and marketing scenarios that can produce consulting client opportunities.

By way of a “preview,” here are some of the critical marketing activities we recommend for beginning and seasoned consultants alike . . .

Website – Your website is the central focus of your communication in the world of business. It must answer all the questions a prospective client needs answered (including, “Can I trust this person?”) – and help that client contact you. Just as all roads lead to Rome, all paths from your various activities should lead to your website. We’ve pulled together an entire workbook on setting up an effective website for the professional. Check it out here.

Professional Image – From a business card to appropriate stationery and a multi-function business telephone system, your interactions with people should convey the image you wish to project. Contrary to popular belief, a “brochure” may or may not be beneficial.

Writings – White papers, (i.e. position papers), articles in industry publications that can be reprinted and distributed in response to inquiries, published on your website, etc. are among the most valuable forms of “marketing collateral.” Depending on your writing skill, you may need to engage the services of one or more writers.

A Published Book – Establishing yourself as an authority by producing a book on the subject of your expertise can have an enormous impact on your marketing success.

Professional Networking – Possibly the single most effective way to reach the “hidden job market” (yes, the very same companies that have unpublished job openings) is through strategic networking. Unfortunately, too many people with otherwise excellent people skills make a number of mistakes in their networking activities that shut them out from receiving the true referral benefits of this activity. Are you making any of these mistakes? Our training guide and its workbook review these mistakes but more to the point, aim you in the right direction for getting those true referral benefits. Find out more about Professional Networking here.

Social Media – Among the most interesting ways to get yourself in front of potential buyers is to participate selectively in appropriate social media. LinkedIn, for example, is almost certainly an appropriate medium for you; both your profile and your activity in targeted groups can add real fuel to your efforts. Twitter may also a likely candidate. Facebook or Instagram may or may not fit your plans.

Public Speaking – In front of the right audience, presenting is a superior way to generate inquiries about and for your services. But don’t be fooled. Just getting in front of an audience is only the beginning. Knowing how to present yourself and your subject as well as how to strategically withhold information (to provoke inquiries), etc. are techniques you must learn to use properly. Otherwise, the speech is a waste of time at best and can even harm your image. At The Marketing Machine® Group you’ll also find a course on giving powerful presentations.

Are there other ways to market your services? Absolutely there are, including operational tools and practice management activities such as the proposal, pricing, method of reporting results, etc. We cover these and other aspects of Marketing Your Consulting Services in our articles and training materials. You’ll see more on items from this list because we think they must be given priority.

(Have a marketing topic you’re particularly interested in? Let us know and we’ll add it to our list and share what we know!)

Joseph Krueger
The Marketing Machine®

Interested in getting started right now? Ready to pick and choose from proven training materials? Take a look at TheMarketingMachineGroup.com. There you’ll find a collection of courses in three categories: Marketing Toolkit, Professional Skills and Start-up.

 

Referral Regrets

Wednesday, June 11th, 2014

“Gee, I never realized you do that!”

How many times have you heard that? If you have EVER heard it, I trust you flinched – and recognized immediately that you haven’t been doing a very good job of marketing!

Regret If you stop to think a bit more, you’ll also realize that whoever said this has been unable, all this time, to make a good referral on your behalf. OK, if it was your mother-in-law, maybe it’s not so serious.

But if a client or business associate says it, then you have really missed out!

Time to revisit your referral strategy to avoid any (more) referral regrets.

We’ve said it before. People like to do business with people they like and trust. The same holds true for referrals.

People like to make referrals for people they like and who they know will appreciate it.

How does a potential referrer know you will appreciate the referral? Only if he’s confident it’s a good fit. This means the potential referrer needs to know a lot about you.

The referrer needs to know you WANT referrals.

Do you make it clear to your network when you are looking for referrals? It can be something as simple as saying, “I’ve got room for two more clients and I’m looking for the right ones.” This should lead to the follow-up question, “Oh, what kind of clients are you looking for?” and then the conversation can continue.

The referrer needs to know exactly what kind of referral you want.

You may be looking for clients, as described above. But maybe you’re looking for a new attorney who specializes in intellectual property. Maybe you need a referral to a real estate professional who specializes in leased office space. Maybe you are looking for the right person to plan and facilitate your upcoming company retreat. The more detail you can provide, the easier it will be for your referrer to help.

The referrer needs to know exactly HOW to make the referral.

Your being handed a business card with name and phone number is not really a referral. An effective referral is a personal introduction, where the referrer uses his or her own authority and relationship to pave the way for you.

If your referrer doesn’t have a personal relationship with the prospect – again, this may not be a real referral. Before you promise to “follow up,” make sure that your referrer has the appropriate status and commitment in the midst of the transaction.

Not a fit?

If, for any reason, the referral doesn’t really fit your needs, you can decline to use it. Make sure your referrer understands why – timing not right, different focus, potential conflict with other clients, etc. In that conversation, you’ll have the opportunity to give your referrer even more information about what you do, so he’ll continue to be a potential source.

For sure, you’ll never hear again from that person, “Gee, I didn’t know you did that!”

Virginia Nicols
The Marketing Machine®

 

Any of this hit home? If so, you may want to check out  this post:

http://consultantsmarketingmachine.com/hate-networking

And if you’re interested in a full-on review of referral strategies, check out this material at The Marketing Machine Group:

http://themarketingmachinegroup.com/downloads/dynamic-referral-system/

 

Building Your Own Website Safely and Smoothly

Thursday, May 1st, 2014

Five things I have learned over the past few years.

I wish I had learned them earlier!

Build Website Safely So much has been written about building your own website that I hesitate to add to the collection. But if you’re a marketer today, you must have a website (if not more than one) and that means either you build it yourself, or you hire someone else to do the job. The goal, of course, is to have that building process go smoothly, with as few interruptions as possible.

The headline above tells you I’m a relative beginner. Certainly, most of the people I work with have been doing business online for years and years. (That usually translates to something like 12 years, at the most!) What I have discovered, though, is that these “experts” have to keep changing their websites, too – simply because the whole online world keeps shifting and developing!

So, don’t feel intimidated about being a “newbie,” since a lot of people are in that same boat with you. Here is some of what I have discovered about building a website. I hope you’ll find it instructive. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

1. Start with WordPress.

Even a few years ago, there seemed to be a number of competing platforms for websites. These days, the leader, and growing bigger every day, is WordPress. Don’t waste any more time deciding — start with WordPress (.org, not .com), where you’ll get the most training, the most enhancements, the most support. And WordPress is free.

2. Invest in paid instruction.

You can get hours and hours of free online WordPress training – articles, illustrations, videos. The problem with free assistance? Time! You may spend hours, even days, searching for the answer to your simple question, and even then, it may not work because the source you’re using was created 18 months ago and is now completely outdated. Buy a course. Depending on what is included, you may pay from $50 to $350 for it. See if you can find one that has a private Facebook user’s group affiliated with it. You’ll get answers to the things that are stumping you. (Groups are amazingly generous.) You may make some new friends, as I have. And you’ll have a place to come when you start looking for private “tech support,” a little later down the road.

3. Figure out what security plug-ins you need, and get them installed. From the get-go.

Several excellent security plug-ins are free, like Wordfence Security and iThemesSecurity. You need one or more. Understand the settings. (Unfortunately, they are complicated for the uninitiated.) Run the scans. Don’t think that because you’ve got “just a couple of pages up,” that you’re immune from hackers. Opening your web page and seeing a message like the red one above is a terrible way to start a day!

4. Back up your work.

As you build your website, back up, back up, back up. In three different places: on your computer, on an external drive, in the cloud. Again, there are free and paid back-up programs. Your Facebook user’s group or your website course leader will be able to suggest which is best for you.

5. Keep everything up to date.

Hackers and scam artists and whatever other bad people are out there focus on WordPress, just because it IS so popular. And every time WordPress updates, all the ancillary programs and plug-ins that connect to it have to be sure they still work. I update something every single week. I’ve even had to make a chart with my sites down the left column, and check every update off as I complete it, otherwise I can’t keep track. (There are programs that let you update everything from one place.)

What happened to me.

Four years ago I started building my own website following suggestions 1 and 2 above. I got to the rest of them as I got hacked, locked out of my own sites, and repeatedly warned. When YOU start, see if you can start with all 5 of the above recommendations in mind and in place. The ride will be a lot smoother!

Virginia Nicols
The Marketing Machine®

 

From Accomplishments to Talents

Saturday, February 1st, 2014

Accomplishments to TalentsBuilding your own Library of Accomplishments

When you’re doing any career planning, having a true Library of Accomplishments is a necessity. It takes a lot of effort to build your library, and then you find you have to keep updating it!

Once you have the Library, though, you can use it in so many ways.

Today, I want to write about one more way to use your Library. And that’s to take the next step with it to identify your Talents.

What’s the difference between Accomplishments and Talents?

Accomplishments are by their very nature historical. That is, they describe skills and abilities you demonstrated in the past. Talents, on the other hand, are enduring traits or characteristics that are part of who you are today. You’re likely to carry these forward into the future, no matter what skills you may be missing.

When people talk about “Going with your strengths,” they are talking about taking advantage of your Talents. Talents are usually listed as adjectives, for example: assertive, curious, inventive, materialistic, punctual, etc.

Talents are what make you unique.

If you are still deciding which direction to head in as far as your career is concerned, knowing what your talents are will be a big help in making that decision. If you are working on understanding the Unique Value Proposition of your consulting practice, you’ll be including your talents in that exercise, too.

How to use your Accomplishments to identify your Talents.

Obviously, the longer the list of Accomplishments, the more valid will be the results. Wait to do this exercise until you have at least 50 Accomplishments — don’t waste your time on it with only a handful.

1. Grab your list of Accomplishments. Beside each Accomplishment (verb)  write down the ONE Talent (adjective)  that was required for that success. (See the image above for an idea of how to lay it out.) For example:

  • Accomplishment: Revised audit procedures
  • Talent: Efficient

Another example:

  • Accomplishment:  Introduced new sales approach
  • Talent:  Persuasive

2. Now, go back and tally all the different talents you’ve noted. 

3. Rank all your talents, from most frequent to least. You may be surprised at what comes up most often! The Talents you have identified are what will help direct you and your business to the right market. These are what you can count on and build with!

Use your Talents to guide you.

As you review the options, research the character traits of other successful people in your industry or your position. Do your talents correspond to theirs?

Skills can always be learned, or outsourced. You are born with your Talents; they are the aptitudes that have always made work for you easy and productive.

Be sure your Talents are aligned for success in your business!

 

Virginia Nicols
The Marketing Machine®

P.S. This article assumes you are familiar with the concept of Accomplishments as they apply to building your resume as well as to building your business. We think an Accomplishments Library is foundational to career planning and business marketing. Here’s a link to the full discussion and to our course on the topic: Building Your Accomplishments Library.

 

 

Your Digital Brochure – Who will be responsible?

Monday, January 20th, 2014
Digital Brochure

Digital Brochure – Exactly what you want?

Setting Priorities for Digital Marketing Materials

If you’ve been in the business world for any length of time, you have been exposed to ever more digitally-delivered sales and marketing information.

Your previous company

In addition to the usual printed annual report, brochure, tech sheets, printed ads, etc., which of these online resources have your previous employers used to attract business?

  • Interactive website
  • Facebook company page
  • LinkedIn company page
  • Twitter account
  • Sales Videos
  • Weekly or monthly e-newsletter
  • Email promotions to in-house list

Your consulting business

As you build your consulting practice, which of the items on the list do YOU plan to use? And, most important, where do you start if you want to use several of them?

1. First on the list: LinkedIn

As we have discussed before, for a professional, a well-designed LinkedIn personal profile has to be first on your list. It serves as the introduction to your consulting “brochure.” Recent statistics show that 93% of employers are using it in their search for the right people to fill their job needs. And according to Hinge Marketing, 60% of potential professional service buyers check out their target company’s social media presence (including LinkedIn) before they decide to buy.

2. Second on the list: your professional website

Every professional needs a website to serve as a digital brochure. (It serves as far more, but it is definitely the first place any potential client will look for information about you and your services.)

There are so many options for getting a website in place!

  • You can interview and hire a website designer to build a site for you at the cost of anywhere between $5,000 and $10,000; the process may take a month or two.
  • You can get a discount website built over just a few days for as little as free!
  • You can build it yourself, if you have the time and inclination.

Whatever route you choose, be sure it satisfies your needs for YOUR consulting business. Questions to keep in mind:

  1. Will the site need frequent changes or updates?
  2. Will you want to be able to make those changes yourself?
  3. Where will you get the training you need if you want to make the changes?

How the website should be designed and laid out is worth more discussion — a lot more! Here’s a link to our full manual on building a professional services website. For today, be thinking about WHO is going to do it.

3. Third on the list: your email list

Of course you don’t intend to spam your prospects and/or clients with unwanted email! But email remains the most widespread method for personal business communications. The two key words in that last sentence: personal and business.

For your emails to be personal, you must have the right address and the right name for the recipient. Think of how many “fake” or pseudo emails you have created in the past! Your prospects and clients do the same thing.  Confirm their names, their addresses, and that they WANT to hear from you when you write.

Business emails need to be carefully formatted and managed. As your business grows, you will need an email “service provider” to help you keep your marketing lists separate and updated.  If you sign up for information from The Marketing Machine®, it will be delivered with the help of Aweber, one of the most popular email and autoresponder programs. Again, for more info on effective emails as a marketing necessity, check out Better eMail Copy.

Virginia Nicols
The Marketing Machine®

 

Holiday Season – A Good Time to Network?

Sunday, December 8th, 2013

If you’re new to consulting, and just starting to build your business, or even if you’ve been a consultant for a while and think your reputation is well established . . .

End of the year parties and get-togethers are made for professional marketers!

The big advantages of holiday season parties:

  • You don’t have to plan your own event.
  • You don’t have to compete to get attendees — they will already be there!

So what’s the catch?

People are at a holiday party to celebrate! They have not come with the idea of doing business.

If you miss the cues, you could make a big mistake.

Still, the holiday season is the biggest season for many businesses, so business — and money — won’t be that far from anybody’s mind.

Your job is simply to bring business into the conversation at an appropriate time.

Your networking plan should make it clear how.

  1. Identify who will be at the party that you want to meet.
  2. Do your homework about that person — what is going on in her company? What’s going on in her industry?
  3. Be prepared to pose an intelligent and useful question at the right moment, to begin that all-important dialog and relationship building.

If your purpose is networking, it is not to party. Don’t confuse the two.

Don’t stuff your face while trying to present yourself as a professional.  Ditto regarding overdoing alcoholic beverages.

Yes, networking at holiday parties can be tricky, but what a shame it would be to miss a great opportunity!

If you are serious about networking, consider getting your own copy of our Professional Networking Guide. Professional Networking Guide miniIt will set you up so you’ll make it safely and effectively though the holiday season minefield.

This is a serious training piece. If networking is a part of your business marketing — and surely it is — then I believe you’ll appreciate our step-by-step approach to becoming a confident and effective professional networker.

Take a look right now!

 

 

 

 

Virginia Nicols
The Marketing Machine®

What size businesses do you consult with?

Monday, November 4th, 2013

Breaking Into Consulting Series

You’re new to consulting.

You’ve conducted a disciplined, professional job search and you are turning to consulting for one or more of the following reasons:

  • Supplement your income
  • Expand your exposure to the business community
  • Fill the growing gap in your employment history
  • Hone and/or expand your professional skills
  • Begin a new career as a professional consultant

So, what kind of businesses do you want as “clients?” What size of business is likely to need your skills and be willing to hire you? There is a distinct difference between major corporations and small-to-medium-sized companies.

Most books on the subject of consulting are written about consulting to large corporations.

If your skills and experience are all with large corporations, you probably already know how to negotiate in this environment. The majority of books on consulting are written with your target market in mind so we’ll refer you to our Marketing Machine Library for references on building your consultancy.

Of course, your inventory of skills is critical. If, for example, you have credentials in a specific niche, but little experience with larger businesses, you might still find good potential clients.

But if you are one of the former executives with predominantly small business experience (as the majority of former managers are), you’re most likely to experience the success you aspire to with smaller companies. So be cautioned.

You are going to be confused – even tragically misled – by much of the “advice” you get in the great body of reference literature on consulting as a career. You will be well advised to check the credentials of the writers before investing time or money in reading their materials.

The big difference is in how decisions are made.

In a large company, the sales process typically starts with end-users and includes influencers and decision makers. Each audience has its role to play as the sale moves along. You can identify each participant level, and of course should address each one differently.

If you’ve been a manager (mid or C-level) in a small organization, you know that budget items and costs are allocated differently and decisions to make purchases are usually made by the senior management team. You simply aren’t going to get a contract without the owner/s’ approval. And, in fact, you are in all likelihood reporting right to the top.

Reflect your understanding of these differences in your marketing communications.

Make sure your “credentials” and your marketing materials reflect an understanding of how your target market company operates.

As for your personal credentials, your Library of Accomplishments is the place to start in finding good content. Check out this recent post.

If you’re new at developing marketing messages for small business, take a look at the Robert Half website. Of course, that organization is aiming to get small businesses to hire ITS consultants, but the reasons they give for why a consultant would help are ideas you can apply in your own marketing.

 

Take the time to build a real marketing plan.

If you are serious about building a long-term consulting practice, you’ll need more than simple marketing suggestions like those above. Like any business, the most successful consultants are those who are able to establish what makes them unique, and then build a marketing plan around that.

The Marketing Machine has developed two specific guides you may want to examine:

Zeroing In On Your UVP (Your Unique Value Proposition)

Strategic Marketing Plan for Professionals

Each of these has been specifically created for the professional marketplace.

Virginia Nicols
The Marketing Machine®

Consultants Helping Consultants

Friday, September 6th, 2013
Consultants meeting consultants

Getting to know other consultants

If You’re New to Consulting, You Don’t Have to Go it Alone.

The world of consulting to small and medium-size businesses can be a very lonely existence, especially if you’re working out of your home and have no full-time staff.

Your marketing activities no doubt include networking in the trade associations that serve your target market. But are you meeting and networking with other consultants, especially those whose fields complement yours?

Consultants helping consultants has multiple benefits.

Build Liaisons With Other Consultants and Refer Each Other.

To begin with, your credibility can be greatly enhanced when a client asks you about a consulting assignment that is out of your area of specialty and you can refer someone with that specific discipline.

In many cases where multiple disciplines are required, knowing other consultants allows you to put together a joint venture.  Of course, this presents a different opportunity as well as some challenges. You don’t want to expose your client to someone you barely know and whose work product you’ve never seen, so approach such a joint venture with caution.

Make Sure Your Marketing Plan Includes Building Relationships with Other Consultants.

Your marketing plan should contain strategies and tactics for including other consultants in the section on developing referral sources. Take the time to research non-competing but closely aligned fields, and build a plan to reach out to professionals in those fields.

Building credibility within the consulting community is not something that will take place overnight. It’s a long-term process, so give yourself the time! If you’ve exhausted the first round of possibilities, you may want to take a more in-depth look at where you might find referral sources, and how best to approach — and nurture — them. The Marketing Machine’s Dynamic Referral System — Building Solid Relationships covers the topic in significant detail.

Join or Form a Consulting Network Group.

By joining with other consultants in your area and offering a regular series of seminars, you all get a chance to display your case histories, your skills and accomplishments to each other as well as to businesses in the community. The Institute of Management Consultants (IMC) is a national organization composed of largely small business consulting firms. Members meet regularly and non-members are welcome. This group of consultants helping other consultants can be especially useful for people new to the consulting field.

Network on Purpose.

Getting back to solitude, what may well be your biggest obstacle to maintaining a consistent and positive attitude so necessary to succeed as an entrepreneur.

You need a network and regularly-scheduled ways to stay in contact. Not just in actual meetings, but on line and by phone. Consider joining appropriate LinkedIn groups and becoming an active contributor. In fact, you may wish to start your OWN LinkedIn group.

When it comes time to speak one-on-one with some of your new contacts, VoiP (voice over internet protocol) and services like Skype, FaceTime  and WhatsApp on the iPhone and IPad offer ways of getting to know one another that are much more powerful than mail or a simple phone call. And the costs are minimal. Get to know these technologies and use them.

The more you build and nurture your network, the more your phone will ring.

Joe Krueger
The Marketing Machine®

P.S. If you plan to use any of the excellent video conferencing tools, be sure that you are set up to present a professional background for the call! You may be centered on the screen, but bad lighting can make you look tired or even scary. If behind you, what your contact sees is a bookcase with half-fallen books, or an open door, or a pile of laundry — you are doing yourself a disservice. Set up your “stage” and use it! Otherwise, stick to the phone.

 

Marketing Budgets – A Big Business Fantasy

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

It happened a few years ago . . .

The inspiration for this article comes from what happened to me a number of years ago when I was consulting to a major financial institution.

My assignment was to help a new division assemble a marketing team and materials. Naturally, one of my first questions was, “What is your marketing budget?” They responded with a six-digit figure; I believe it was $163,000. I then asked the next logical question, “How did you arrive at this figure, and what does it include?”

I received what I discovered later to be a common answer. It went something like this:

“Well, we looked at our major competitor (also a bank) and they have allocated $215,000 for marketing basically the same service. Since they’re 35% bigger than we are, we multiplied their budget by 65% and came up with $139,750. Since we knew we’d have some start-up costs, we added $27,950 to cover those. That’s it.”

The Budget Process, repeated many, many times, with variations!

Yes, this “system” became familiar to me as I saw it put into place over and over again. Some of the more ambitious (or should I say aggressive) rising stars in the corporate world sometimes took off an extra ten percent because “we’re better sales people.” (They wanted to look good for management.)

“What were they smoking?” you ask. I have no explanation except perhaps they were rolling their own banana peels (that’s for Beatles fans everywhere).

Now before you declare this situation ludicrous (which it is) and the people behind the budget calculation hallucinatory (which might have some truth to it), be aware that this kind of logic is employed in big companies all over the world.

Budgets are allocated on an annual basis and the department heads have to come up with some figure. If they under-estimate their needs, having to go back to the well is distasteful. If they over-estimate, well, they may turn to folks like us and ask us to pre-bill projects to keep that department from losing that budgeted money.

This kind of thinking can really confuse the situation, but it’s a reality in the world of corporate America. Be aware of it so you don’t let your amazement show!

Marketing budgets should really be developed this way:

  • Determine (or estimate) the Lifetime Customer Value (annual revenue x number of months or years for the average relationship)
  • Determine how much the client is willing to pay to acquire a new customer (the Allowable Cost of Acquisition)
  • Determine how much the client is willing to pay to retain a customer

Then, with these numbers in hand, determine how many customers the client wants to book (or can “handle” on a weekly or monthly basis), understanding that there is always an investment associated with booking and maintaining business and that overbooking is not desirable.

This is a realistic way to budget. Unfortunately, very few businesses operate this way.

What stories about budgeting can you share?  We’d love to hear ’em.

Joseph Krueger
The Marketing Machine®

 

Is a Brochure Essential for Starting a New Consulting Business?

Sunday, August 25th, 2013

The Series — Breaking Into Consulting

As a new consultant, you certainly have to consider what marketing collateral you need. In fact, we spend a lot of time of the whys and hows of marketing pieces – your business card, letterhead, website, etc.

The Wrong Brochure May Work Against You At This Stage.

You’re new in business and new to consulting as a professional pursuit.  You’re in a hurry to get up and running.  In consultation with your website designer, husband or marketing advisor, you may be asking:

“If I only had a beautiful brochure to give to people, wouldn’t I appear more professional? More established?”

The answer is, emphatically, “No.”  Too often, a glossy brochure meets the needs of the owner — but plays no role in meeting the needs of potential clients!

When you’re just starting out, you don’t know what you need.

As a problem solver, you don’t know what problems potential clients will be facing.  Your job is to uncover them after an introductory meeting  — and maybe, only through a thorough needs analysis. If your brochure says you solve “this sort of problem,” it may prevent that first meeting from even happening.

Later, if you find yourself specializing in solving certain types of problems, you will know how best to describe your process and results.  You may, at that time, even have case histories (carefully sanitized) to share as part of your marketing.

Therefore, the most effective brochure for the new practice may be a simple FAQ page on the website, or a typewritten list of your services on a single sheet of letterhead.

Flexibility In the Beginning Can Be Beneficial.

As you gain clients and experience and become comfortable with your “style” of consulting you will develop a better understanding of your target market’s expectations. At that point you will have a better idea of whether or not you need a printed brochure and, if so, what form it should take.

If you’re still making decisions about collateral, take another look at the suggestions here:

Day One of Your Consulting Practice

And take a look at the other posts in this series, Breaking Into Consulting.  Each has some good reminders and links to materials created by professionals and aimed directly at new consulting business owners.

The Breaking Into Consulting Series:

WARNING: While all the information mentioned here has value, I caution you about spending too much time on your marketing materials before you complete that essential first step — developing your Marketing Plan. When you’ve completed all the analysis for that plan — analysis of your own strengths and weaknesses, analysis of the marketplace and your competition, development of your strategies and even tactics, etc. — then decisions about marketing collateral will be simple and sound.

Virginia
The Marketing Machine®

Take a look at our recommended guide to building a marketing plan for a professional practice. I think you’ll find it refreshingly straight-forward. And it will help you decide if and when to spend money on marketing collateral.