Credibility for Consultants

I’m presenting in Key West and a very common question is, “How do I create credibility when I don’t have a commercially published book?”

While I use book publishing as a key marketing tool, it’s not the sole route to credibility. Here are some techniques to consider to create credibility with any true buyer:

• Position papers (“white papers”) on subjects related to your value proposition which are provocative, innovative, and stimulating.

• Client testimonials, especially on video, with “name, rank, and serial number,” and specifics of your help. These can be 60 seconds or less and needn’t be professionally shot.

• Client lists. (You can generally use a client name without permission, so long as the client hasn’t prohibited it. You can’t use a client logo without permission, however. See your attorney if you’re unsure. I’m obviously not an attorney, though I did attend law school for two days.)

• Typical client results. You don’t have to be specific about the client, but what types of results can a prospect expect, e.g., reduced attrition, market share growth, reduced stress. Do NOT use your methodology here, but your results.

• Case studies. Three paragraphs, in this order: Situation (What were the circumstances that demanded your assistance?) Intervention (What methodology did you use to resolve the issue?) Resolution (What was the degree of improved client condition that resulted?)

• Mixed media. Brief videos of you explaining your approaches, products, and services help to personalize the site and create credibility in your passion and explanations. Downloadable audio which people can listen to in other venues and with the ease they prefer.

• Blogging regularly (at least three times a week) using mixed media. Focus on your value proposition and demonstrate that you’re a thought leader.

• Newsletters that are brief and pithy, targeted at your highest potential audience and offering value in every issue. These must be regular and consistent.

• Appearing regularly in public at conferences and events, with your name and photo in the brochure and agenda.

• Press releases on new ideas, accolades, and experiences that you disseminate electronically (today you don’t need the traditional medial to print your releases).

• Metaphors and analogies which you create about your intellectual property to make it memorable (“achieve escape velocity”).

You get the idea. Your credibility will be enhanced with value, frequency, consistency, memorablity, and originality.

© Alan Weiss 2010. All right reserved.

14 thoughts on “Credibility for Consultants

  1. Perfect timing! I was at a presentation last night that targeted this very topic.(and my lack of visible credibility) I left wondering what to do next. Wonderful compilation Alan, Thank you.

  2. A great checklist!

    I have a question about intellectual property. Despite being a long-time reader of your books etc., I associate the term “escape velocity” with Chris Brogan, not Alan Weiss. Chris has built a website around the concept ( and blogs about it frequently, e.g., The perspectives are very similar, but I perceive him to “own” the concept (in a non-legal sense).

    I’m curious to hear your views on how general concepts get adopted by multiple consultants and how to protect intellectual property.


    P.S. For the record, I’m more of a Weissian than a Broganian!

  3. Adam, thanks for writing. The phrase “escape velocity” has been used by a kibillion people since rocketry was invented. I began using it with a Hewlett-Packard project 15 years ago and it appears in scores of my books, audio, and video offerings, as well as my speeches.

    I’ve never heard of Chris Brogan. Anyone has the use of these public domain phrases unless uniquely protected. “Million Dollar Consulting” is not protected, but the “Million Dollar Consulting® College” is. “Escape velocity” certainly isn’t associated with any single source of intellectual property, and when I first began using it I knew that I couldn’t protect it and never tried to.

    Does that answer your question?

  4. Thanks. Makes sense. I was just curious.

    FYI, Chris Brogan is a very impressive guy who is building his own empire a la your model. I don’t know him personally but I read his blog for ideas although it has nothing to do with my practice:

    He seems to be one of the few “social media gurus” who operates as a million-dollar consultant. Even if he hasn’t heard of you, he clearly practices what you preach.

  5. Smart people practice what I preach. His web site isn’t very impressive. “Operating as a million dollar consultant” means that people in the field have heard of you.

  6. Alan,

    How does one establish credibility if he is new to consulting and does not yet have any clients from which to publish testimonials, client lists, or typical client results? Should he do pro-bono work to build these? Or should he perhaps set the bar a little lower at first and take on smaller projects?

  7. You need to read my books, where I cover this in depth. Basically, make your value visible through new IP, publishing, speaking, networking, newsletters, blogging, interviews, pro bono (for non-profits only), and so on. That’s how all of us start, without clients. NEVER talk about lowering the bar or that’s exactly what you’ll do.

    • That’s good advice to follow Geoffrey. I bought a couple of Alan’s books (and read at least 2 more while sipping coffee at the Barnes & Nobles- sorry, Alan. I’ll be sure to buy more to make up for this!) and took his advice from day 1. Although I am not the prolific publisher Alan is, I do blog regularly, write a monthly newsletter, speak as often as invited, and have published several articles online. I network offline and online through social media and I have done pro-bono work for 1 non-profit (and a couple of friends’ businesses just to get some experience, testimonials, and referrals). This has been effective in driving prospects my way and good leads to my website and is resulting in new business. I expect things to get only better from here. So, thanks for your books and advice Alan!

      By the way, besides your Million Dollar Consulting book and toolkit, what are the other books you would recommend to consultants? My expertise is in marketing so I’m a marketing consultant- and still new fairly new- so I was thinking about reading Process Consulting or the Ultimate Consultant to make sure I have the basics of consulting mastered. I want to always deliver the best quality consulting I possibly can and continue improving myself- so I can continue to, as you say, improve my client’s situation.

      Thanks for you feedback Alan!

    • Alan,
      I saw Geoffrey’s question above and your response to it. My situation is similar to his. Which books do you suggest I read first? And how will I ever get big companies to hire me if I don’t have some experience with smaller companies first? I don’t think that a multi-million dollar corporation is going to care much that I’ve lead consulting projects with non-profits. Corporations have their pick of consultants and firms when they are spending 10, 20, 30 thousand dollars or more. Are they really going to be impressed with a one woman firm with no previous clients and no experience outside of some non-paid work for some charities? How much does previous work experience count? Should I mention the work I’ve done for previous employers? Shouldn’t I just focus on smaller clients?
      Thanks for your help!

  8. Angela, you need to jettison all that low self-esteem stuff. Small business experience DOES NOT qualify you to work with large companies. Two different animals. You need to join my Mentor Program. Right now, you don’t know what you don’t know and you’re making a dozen incorrect assumptions.

    For both of you:
    How to Acquire Clients
    Getting Started in Consulting
    The Ultimate Consultant
    The Consulting Bible (March from Wiley)
    How to Establish A Brand
    How to Write A Proposal
    The Million Dollar Consulting® Toolkit
    Million Dollar Consulting

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