If you are a consultant who is a little frustrated about how to attract enough clients, you are not alone. Many independent professional consultants – advertising agencies, public relations firms, interactive Internet/Web companies, and graphic design studios – struggle with marketing and hope that networking will bring them enough clients. This isn’t exactly hoping and wishing for clients, but it is darn close.
There is a better way to get consulting clients. First you probe for pain, then you educate prospects how to solve their pains in general. The more you educate how to solve their pain in general the more that will hire you for specific services.
Unfortunately, many marketing services firms who learn this truth find the idea of writing and speaking about client pain too daunting and even mysterious. Most feel this is only for a select few mega-minds like David Ogilvy, Peter Drucker or Tom Peters, but that is a miscalculated view. You don’t need to write three dozen books and have them translated into 30 languages. Just becoming a local guru can work wonders.
Understanding the psychology of clients provides critical evidence of the validity of the “speak up and get published” approach. Consulting is what economists sometimes call “credence” goods, in that purchasers must place great faith in those who sell the services. How can potential clients trust you if they never hear what you have to say?
The good news is there exists a body of knowledge that some have discovered to grow their consulting businesses. As an example, management consulting firms like McKinsey & Co. pioneered the approach beginning in the 1940s and now have it down to a science. Ad agencies like Ogilvy and Mather refined the art. We have named it the Educating Expert Model for finding clients.
How do you get started as a independent consulting guru? First, understand that generating new clients is an investment and should be measured like any other investment. Next, quit wasting money on ineffective means — don’t stone me before hearing me out — like brochures, advertising and sponsorships. Rather than creating a brochure, start by writing how-to articles. Those articles turn into speeches and seminars. The best marketing investment you can make is to get help creating informative Websites, hosting persuasive seminars, booking speaking engagements, and getting published as a newsletter columnist and eventually a book author.
Please know this: the universe rewards activity. Start by being curious and asking clients about their pains. Gather information on how to solve those worries, frustrations and concerns. Be the expert who educates people on how they compare to their peers and the best ways to overcome their obstacles. The more prospects you inform how to solve their problems in general, the more will hire you for the specifics.