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#676: Be Cautiously Creative with Your Sales Collateral

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Monday, October 17, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Given that consulting prospects have little time to get to differentiate you from your colleagues (and all the laid off executives flooding the consulting market), what are some ways to get people's attention long enough to develop some rapport?

Most professional service providers today have a common challenge when it comes to getting noticed above the crowd. All are presumed to have competent technical skills, a set of marquee clients who provide glowing referrals and some "unique" technical approach that is presumed to stand out on its merits. However, what once served as a sufficiently large marketplace for your combination of these characteristics to differentiate you, it is increasingly hard to see how one consultant is so much different from others. Instead of refining our offering, our target market or both, it is tempting to juice up our collateral as part of our visibility strategy. This can backfire badly if done poorly.

Consider the efforts of professionals who one would presume are tuned in to what works in the area of marketing collateral - designers. look at some examples of creative resumes by young designers. To the untrained eye, many of these look quite creative (the title of the article calls them "billiant") and one would think they would catch the interest of potential clients or employers. Now look at the comments of those viewing these resumes - it is not a pretty picture. The commenters are in the design business to which these resumes are aimed and they are unimpressed. What went wrong? Too much emphasis on being creative and not enough on the basics of communication, value, and clarity.

Tip: Be cautiously creative when presuming that splashy (but still professional) creativity can differentiate you from your peers. Being unconventional to be different is a double edged sword. If you do want to make a point with the format of your collateral, invest in market research with colleagues, clients and marketing professionals to make sure your targets are getting the same message you think you are sending.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  brand  innovation  publicity  sales 

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