A consultancy business can be a very rewarding professional path. It offers variety and allows you to collaborate with clients to find solutions to challenging issues, learn about many aspects of your industry, and acquire an invaluable set of transferrable skills that will help you achieve long-term success with your own business. And the best part is you can start a consulting business with no experience, provided you’re ready to put in the work.
The consulting market, which offers a variety of high-paying clients provided you know how to engage them, is growing in value and includes everything from finance to HR to strategy to IT.
When you’re starting out in consulting, it’s all about figuring out how to get your first clients for your new business, in order to appeal to a larger audience you might be tempted to provide a wide range of services. But this strategy can make it more challenging to demonstrate your expertise in each specific area. The end result is that you may not be perceived as the best candidate for a given position.
However, establishing your specialty, or unique selling proposition, as a contractor, appeals to a picky consumer who is looking for a specific expert. This specialty elevates you in the eyes of clients by:
- Enhancing your credibility.
- Making you memorable.
- Making you more referable.
How to attract customers to your consulting firm
Once you have identified a niche, you will find it easier to define your target market. Maintaining these strategic marketing efforts and making sure you’re speaking to the right individuals is easier when you know who they are, where they hang out, and how they make decisions.
1. Actively request referrals
People follow the advice of their peers. Social proof is based on the idea that other people have greater knowledge about a situation than we have. We are more likely to imitate someone in our group if something has previously worked well for them.
By asking your customers to advocate on your behalf, you can create this social proof quickly and easily by:
- offering modest rewards for referrals that result in sales;
- initiating a referral competition;
- providing enhanced goods or services as a reward for referrals and new clients.
- collaborating with other experts whose clients occasionally need your skills.
Rewards for recommendations encourage loyalty among those who provide them. Clients express their support for your company by doing so, and the value you provide encourages this cycle of loyalty.
Make sure to periodically remind clients about your referral program. Project completion is the ideal time to engage in referral dialogue with a client, reminding them of what you were able to do for them and asking for their referral on the spot while the memory is still fresh.
2. Share your expertise online
Having established the area you want to specialise in, it’s time to get out there and establish yourself as a trusted authority. Although developing your online professional portfolio is a great place to start, its usefulness depends on customers actually discovering it.
By establishing a presence where your audience congregates, you can increase these odds. Writing a guest blog post that promotes and is connected to your area of expertise is a terrific way to achieve this.
How to use blog postings to find consulting clients:
- Respond to frequent queries or issues clients have.
- Publish a brief instruction manual or tutorial.
- Share specifics on any lessons learnt, widespread myths, or things to avoid doing.
- Share your opinions on current business developments.
- Review how your clients have benefited from your use of a certain tool or service.
You might get in touch with previous or present clients and offer to write for their company blog, or you can try pitching to online trade periodicals that are appropriate for your line of work.
You could also blog for a regional newspaper or lifestyle website if you know how to write for a more general audience. For instance, presenting your top recommendations for families to grow their personal finances if you’re a financial adviser will demonstrate your expertise.
3. Email advertising
Don’t ignore the power of email as you strive to establish a stronger presence among potential clients. One of the most successful marketing strategies is direct email marketing, which has the potential to deliver enviable returns. Email advertising is effective because you can:
- Personalise emails to encourage greater interaction than social media or advertisements.
- Send emails in a sequence, strategically, or to different recipients depending on where they are in the sales process.
- Use software to automate an entire email sequence, such as sending an email based on user action.
4. Become social
Every social networking platform offers marketing benefits, but LinkedIn is the place where professional connections flourish. To succeed at growing your brand via LinkedIn, focus on:
- Positioning yourself within your niche. To ensure that you are addressing the most pertinent audience, make sure your designated niche is obvious.
- Raise your profile. Include a professional headshot, a customised URL, a portfolio of your work, quantifiable experience, and details of your best results.
- Obtain referrals. These can help validate the digital social evidence of your business.
- Participate in industry-relevant groups. Involve yourself in industry discussions online to link your name to thought leadership topics in your industry.
- Regularly publish new content on your company website. Mix it up too; blog, but also publish thought leadership content, opinion or comment pieces, case studies, Q&A interviews, white papers, and so on. The only real requirement is that your content is always engaging and of interest to your target audience and customers.
Your ability to promote your skills and services to the right decision-makers will be enhanced by a strong LinkedIn presence, which helps positions you as an industry thought leader.
5. Targeted advertising
While tactics such as direct email communication and content marketing are great for generating new leads, they require time to create and distribute.
By attracting potential leads and directing them to your website, portfolio, and content marketing, targeted advertising can help close this gap. This additional traffic accelerates your organic growth online.
Ad campaigns that you can launch right away may include:
- Pay-per-click advertisements on Google Ads, where you place a bid for a term and only pay when a user clicks through to your website from your ad.
- Stories and posts that have been sponsored or promoted on social networking sites like LinkedIn.
- Retargeting advertisements that target people depending on their online behaviour, such as whether they have visited your website or blog post.
Additionally, there are affordable, and even free, ways to advertise your business, such as:
- Business or industry directories for your niche market.
- General directories.
- Local directories such as Yelp, Local.com, and Google My Business.
Ultimately, your audience is present in real life, so your brand must be there as well. Forging these connections widens your network to new audiences and makes face-to-face interactions more memorable than their digital equivalents.
The objective is always to generate new leads for your business, regardless of the tactics you use. When pitching to a potential client, make sure you do the following:
- Define the precise issue they have.
- Give examples of how or why your solution works as you describe it.
- Generate interest in the outcomes a client can expect.
- Set deadlines and client commitment requirements.
The conclusion of your pitch should include a succinct call to action that teases your entire proposal, in which you iron out the finer points such as the project’s scope, deliverables, timetable, and client costs.
Bring it all together and formalising your business
Setting up your marketing strategy requires thought and work. But once you get going with it, much of it can run independently and it will gain natural momentum over time.
It all comes down to making your brand and voice heard, while also ensuring that your small business is built for the long haul. This includes essential business systems and processes, such as business insurance such as consultant insurance and professional indemnity insurance.
You can support the longevity of your business with business insurance*. BizCover provides specialist insurance for consultants, but we leave the fuss and drama at the door. Get a quote online today for your business insurance or give us a call on 1300 920 864 to see how we can help protect your business.