Common Mistakes Made By Consulting Firms When Trying to Market Their Business
Over the last 12 months, I’ve spoken with over 130 consulting companies about their online positioning. In particular, many of the companies have been interested in how to use LinkedIn to help them attract new clients.
In talking with the CEOs and Head of Operations, I’ve found 10 common mistakes happening across small and medium sized consulting firms.
1. Lack an Effective Marketing Strategy
Many firms are so focused on servicing their clients, and working in the day to day operations of the business, that they find it hard to pull themselves out and start thinking strategically about how to promote their services to attract new clients.
They are so engrossed in their business, they find it hard to see the points that a prospective client would see as valuable.
As a result, the key messages on their social media profiles, their website, and all the marketing collateral are not focused on highlighting the winning combination of messages that need to be communicated to attract great new clients.
2. Poor Online Presence
Your firm has ignored LinkedIn because nobody in the business understands it.
Your people have been working so hard doing what they’re great at, they haven’t had time to look up and see how the online world has evolved. They may not realise just how important having a strong online presence is.
It’s a fact that your prospective clients are googling your name, and LinkedIn is going to be in the top search results.
Ignoring LinkedIn is like not participating in an industry conference happening in your city. If you’re not networking via LinkedIn and talking about what you’re passionate about, you’re invisible to the majority of the market.
3. No Compelling Content
Your leadership team has probably have heard that creating high quality content is critical in today’s economy, but everyone seems to be making excuses about ‘not having enough time’ to do it.
This is a problem because not building your website and social media profiles with high quality content is like failing to put some good juicy bait on a hook and simply throwing out the line when your fishing. If you don’t have time to create content, you’re saying you don’t have time to put the juicy-bait on the hook…instead you just throw out the hook and hope for the best.
4. Putting out Crappy Content for SEO
Some consulting firms have outsourced their content creation to an external content marketing agency, social media or SEO service company that have promised to create content that is “search engine optmised”. If this is the only objective, then the content created is likely to be a re-worded set of articles and posts similar to thousands of other articles that your competitors are also creating.
This is not the way to stand out in your industry, and does your brand a disservice, because potential clients don’t see how your firm is different from any other. They start to see you as looking very ‘same-same’ and undifferentiated.
You need to blend the SEO methodology with high quality thought leadership so you start being seen as a true leader in your sector.
5. Inappropriate Delegation or Abdication
Some consulting firms have put the task of social media management onto a team member who does not necessarily understand how to do it properly or even wants the responsibility. Or perhaps the team member is interested to do social media, but does not have the capacity to take on this responsibility as they are already busy with their current workload.
This is a problem because the results of the social media activity will never be as good as they can be. There will be a lot of time, ‘being busy’ and there’s a high chance that the time will be spent implementing the wrong social media activities. If there is no one overseeing the implementation of an effective marketing strategy, there will be a high chance that there’ll be extreme inefficiencies when the team member is trying to build the brand and generate leads. And its not their fault that only be a fraction of the potential results will be generated for your firm.
6. Inconsistency in Lead Generation Activity
Many consulting firms will have a spurt of energy in creating good content, perhaps they’ll create a professional video and a few articles and a whitepaper, and then they’ll drop the ball because something urgent or seamingly more important comes up. And because they don’t see an immediate ROI, they’re less inclined to quickly come back to the task of content creation.
Similary, many will “have a go” at social media and be actively doing all the things that we say to do, but then after 2 or 3 months, they get busy and drop the activity because they need to service their new clients.
This is a problem because your prospective clients and referral partners need to see and hear from you consistently in what ever social media platform they use.
7. Belief Their Giving Away their Intellectual Property
There are some more established consulting firms that are apprehensive about creating thought leadership content, as they think that it will stop their target market contacting them about their services.
They believe that they’re ‘giving their IP away’ for FREE and this could make their service offering redundant.
So they keep their best ideas to themselves…and hide away in the background.
They become their industry’s ‘best kept secret’ as only a small fraction of their market ever get to appreciate the knowledge and wisdom they’ve accumulated over the years.
Meanwhile, their top competitors and emerging leaders within the industry are cranking out high quality videos, articles, thought leadership pieces and elevating their positioning to the target market.
8. Worried About What Others Will Think
There are some more introverted consultants who don’t feel comfortable giving their opinion on industry issues because they’re worried that someone will disagree with them.
They’re worried that they’ll be slammed by some wacko who will leave inappropriate comments or who wants to start a heated discussion for the world to see.
This is a mistake because when you cast your opinion on relevant issues going on in your industry, you’re highly likely to attract like-minded clients who will recognise what you say to be true, and since you’re so congruent with their views and their values, they will end up being an easier client to deal with, who doesn’t second guess your process or recommendations. So by communicating relevant opinions and suggestions to help your target market, you’ll attract your best type of client.
The others who don’t agree will at least remember your name for someone who is comfortable and confident to express themselves, and they’ll probably have a heightened interest the next time you put out your opinion.
Having the courage to communicate your view will boost your company’s positioning as a highly visible industry leader.
9. No System to Proactively Build New Business
Many consultants are not being proactive in reaching out to their prospective clients and referral partners.
They don’t have a system that runs like clock-work to generate new enquiries and build their brand within their target market.
This is a mistake because relying 100% on ‘inbound’ marketing strategies is a big mistake. You need to combine it with a little ‘outbound’ to get maximum results.
With all the great work you’ve done with your website, and building your brand, you’ve got to reach out and be proactive in starting a conversation with your target market.
10. Not Following Up with Leads
How many times have we all being told “The fortune is in the follow-up”?
Most consultants might follow up once, possibly twice with a prospective client, but research indicates that we now need 7 various touch points after the proposal has been sent to secure the deal.
The problem is that there is usually no system to make it easy for consultants to do all this follow up work. With today’s technology, it’s easy to build an automated process that will gently guide the prospective client into making a favourable decision.