Being Heard: What Successful Consultants Can Do to Get Above the Noise
By Linda Popky
At last week’s Million Dollar Consulting Convention in Atlanta, a common theme was that most attendees needed to improve their marketing. Some needed to do more, some more often, and still others needed the discipline to market themselves consistently.
This is not a surprise. As consultants, we are ALL in the marketing business—no matter what our area of specialty. What we’re selling is ourselves—our brand, our expertise, our credibility. And today’s business environment can be pretty noisy and crowded. The question is how do we stand out about all that noise?
Photo: Linda Popky with Alan Weiss at the Million Dollar Consulting Convention in Atlanta last week
In my new book Marketing Above the Noise, I discuss ways that companies can get above the chaos in the marketplace and be heard. Many of these strategies are appropriate for consultant and entrepreneurs as well. Here are a few key points:
- Start with a strategy. Know where you are and where you want to go. That sounds pretty straightforward, but I can’t tell you how many times people come to me with the desire to go off and execute marketing tactics before they’ve determined what their goal should be (and trying to reach everyone is NOT a goal!)
Some consultants start with a strategy, but leave it by the wayside when things get hectic. Others are afraid to commit to a strategy, because by nature this focuses us in one direction while defocusing the others. It’s hard for many of us to learn to say no, but think of it this way. Would you get in a car and drive around in all directions just because you have a full tank of gas? I hope not.
- Know your audience. Understand as much as you can about the key target buyers for your consulting practice. Who are they? What are their concerns? Who influences them? How are they addressing their key issues today? How can you help them? It’s not uncommon to find that your current offerings aren’t a perfect fit for your target market. In that case, it’s up to you to make the adjustment. Don’t wait for your prospects to contort themselves to fit offerings that aren’t really their size.
- Build a strong brand. What do you stand for? What differentiates you from other ways your clients may choose to get the job done? As Alan Weiss says, why you and why now? Your brand is what represents you in business, day in and day out. It starts with how you present yourself—in person, on the phone, and online—and it includes how you speak and what you write. We all have a brand image, but if we’re not actively managing this, then the image our prospects may have of us may not be the one we want to project.
- Become a thought leader. The hardest part about creating intellectual property is often getting the ideas from your head to a piece of paper or computer. Choose an area where you can become the expert, and think about what you need to do to be seen as the thought leader in that area. Once you’ve created a piece of intellectual property, take the content and repurpose it in as many ways as possible.
- Overlay the old and the new. We live in an age of digital marketing. Yet because consulting is so much a relationship business, many of the most effective ways you can reach your prospects are through old fashioned, in-person activities, like breakfasts, speaking engagements, and even face-to-face meetings. You can use social media to promote an event or presentation, but be sure to find ways to interact with your potential buyers directly as much as possible.
- Be as social as you need to be…and not more. The right social media can help amplify your reach, but too much attention on the wrong social media will waste precious time and energy—and it can even hurt you. That’s why it’s so important to know your audience and to use the tactics that are most effective to reach these particular people.
- It’s up to you to orchestrate the best solution. Your clients depend on you to offer alternatives that will improve their condition. You need to listen closely to understand what they need and to ensure that your offerings are tailored for the specific situation at hand. Leading with methodology is like starting every piece of music with a loud trumpet solo. It will get people’s attention the first time, but it will sound forced and arbitrary if it happens again and again and again. Instead, listen to what they need and respond accordingly.
Finally, remember there’s no music unless you make it. Alan tells his community to be shameless in how we promote ourselves. No matter how good you are at what you do, if you don’t get out there and tell people the value you offer and how you can help them, it won’t matter. Make sure when a client needs someone with your capabilities, it’s your song they’re singing and that they hear it loud and clear above the noise.
Linda Popky is a Silicon Valley-based strategic marketing expert who helps transform organizations through powerful marketing performance. She is a Master Mentor and has been inducted into the Million Dollar Consulting® Hall of Fame. Her new book, Marketing Above the Noise: Achieve Strategic Advantage with Marketing That Matters, is now available. Learn more about her at www.leverage2market.com or follow her on Twitter, @popky.
© 2015 Linda Popky – All Rights Reserved