What size businesses do you consult with?

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®

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