Thursday, May 10, 2007

Making Your Marketing Message Relevant for Your Consulting Business

If you are a regular reader of this blog, Entrepreneur Magazine has been a great source of inspiration for many of my posts. Here's an interesting article I read about advertising. I thought it would be a good lead-in to our May 22nd meeting.

Writing Good Advertising for Any Medium

Personally, I discourage consultants from traditional forms of advertising. Consulting is about building a one on one relationship with the client. Print ads, radio ads and even banner ads and pay-per-click advertising on the web can't compare to the potential face to face networking, blogging and other forms of self-promotion can have in building a relationship with a client. The client needs to have the opportunity to like, know and trust you. That is the key to generating business. Can they do that through a radio ad? A TV ad? How about a print ad?

So, when I read the article I thought about how I could re-position it to fit mold of self-promotion I advocate consultants use to gain clients.

The main idea of the Entrepreneur Magazine article was relevance - it determines whether or not your marketing will succeed. While they were speaking of advertising, I was thinking of self-promotion, translated as who you are, what you do and who you serve. Here are the five reasons why such marketing fails as seen from my consultant's lens:

  1. It was predictable and few people noticed it - if you just say you are a "business consultant", that's not enough. Either people will form their own ideas of who you serve and what you do or you can tell them yourself. Define it. Narrow it down and be specific.
  2. Your clients consumed your marketing message and understood it, but didn't care - remember the word "relevance". Whatever you had to say didn't speak to their specific needs. Ditch the irrelevant subject matter, find out what your client's needs are and talk about them.
  3. What you have to say is relevant, but it's unclear to your client - perhaps you are dwelling too much on the details and the processes and not so much on the value of your service. Again, it is all about their needs. Most people don't know or care how car engine works. All they know is that when they turn the key it should start.
  4. Your marketing message is at the wrong place, at the wrong time - if your clients are ready to buy or looking for your services, are you going to be there when they need you? If you have a better sense of when they buy and why they buy, think of ways to make yourself easily accessible.
  5. Your message is from the wrong perspective - what you have to say and how you intend to deliver services are not the way your client sees them. If you think it is money they are trying to save when in reality it is time or resources, you've missed the mark. Think about their problems and how they want them solved by walking in their shoes.

I hope this opens the door to discussing how consultants can promote themselves better. Please share your thoughts on this subject. It's probably one of the most challenging tasks we as solo entrepreneurs face in our professional careers.

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