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Between 2005 and 2011, IMC published Daily Tips every weekday on consulting ethics, marketing, service delivery and practice management. You may search more than 800 tips on this website using keywords in "Search all posts" or clicking on a tag in the Top Tags list to return all tips with that specific tag. Comment on individual tips (members and registered guests) or use the Contact Us form above to contact Mark Haas CMC, FIMC, Daily Tips author/editor. Daily Tips are being compiled into several volumes and will be available through IMC USA and Mark Haas.

 

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#931: Perfecting Your Brochure

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Friday, November 28, 2008
Updated: Sunday, December 14, 2008
I have never used marketing collateral to publicize my business, instead relying on word of mouth. Yet, most articles talk about having a website and brochures, and doing webinars and podcasts? Is any of this necessary?

First, congratulations on having a consulting practice sustainable by word of mouth. If this circumstance brings you a steady stream of challenging, lucrative and socially productive work, then that's great. If this is not the case, then having these pieces of collateral, per se, may or may not be useful. However, going through the exercise of creating them may well be.

Here's what I mean. Ask most consultants what they do, why they do it , how they do it , and who they do it for and you can expect a 15 minute (if you are lucky) explanation. Very few have a clear, concise and "get-to-the-point" description of who they are. Part of this is due to not finding the words that resonate with a wide audience. Being able to say, "I create secure supply chains for transpacific container shipping companies by combining personnel training, integration with your current information technologies and performance tracking systems" is a lot clearer than "I am a supply chain consultant."

Tip: You may not have a brochure, nor need one, but the process of having to put down on a single sheet of paper who, what, where, and why you do is not as simple as it sounds. Give it a try and do two things. First, map this explanation against your last five engagements. Does your practice description capture what you did for these clients and the value you delivered? Second, pass your practice description by about five clients or colleagues and ask them if they recognize you (possibly uniquely) in your description. If not, go back and rework your "brochure." Even if you never use it as an actual brochure, you will have a clearer way to explain the core value you really provide.

© 2008 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  marketing  publicity 

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#930: Surround Yourself With the Right People

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Thursday, November 27, 2008
Updated: Sunday, December 14, 2008
I have a pretty good professional and personal networks. They provide a good way to refer work to others and receive referrals as well. How can I move my network up a notch?

First, be clear (this means writing it down) what you think is the goal of your network(s). People use them in different ways and the "next step" could be different for each network objective.

Objectives could include referral targets, useful to you because companies will come to you because you can always find the right consultant (if it isn't you). A network can also provide you leads, assuming you are clear about what type of leads you seek and those in your network are clear about your needs. There is also a network of people who can provide you technical, market or trend information when you don't need expertise, per se, in the form of a consultant. There is a use for a parallel network where you are the source for information, be it for media, government, nonprofit or other "non consulting" entities, for whom your expertise is valuable.

Tip: Given list of your objectives, name five people for each objective that come to mind immediately as the people who could help you or be helped by you. If you can't come up with five, do a little research or ask others in your current networks who they consider their dream team of advisers and contacts they want to be in their networks. These should be people you wouldn't normally consider in your network; they would be more visible, moreinfluential, and more in need of your services or information.

Pick only one off the list and contact them with a few ideas of how you could work together. Spend a few weeks developing this new addition to your network and evaluate your approach to growing your connections. Every few weeks (your pace may vary), pick another person and work them into your network. Based on this success, reevaluate the others on your network and recalibrate how helpful you can be or they can help you.

© 2008 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  networks  referrals 

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#929: A Sense of Urgency

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Updated: Sunday, December 14, 2008
I have noticed a big difference among consultants. It is not so much the varied technical skills or level of confidence but different senses of how quickly to move on a project.

This sense of urgency you mention does make a difference in how effective you can be as a consultant. Certainly, a consultant who presses ahead and gets the job done quickly will be viewed favorably by a client. The sooner a solution is presented and implemented, the sooner a company can improve its effectiveness in the area in which the client consults. A consultant bringing a sense of urgency will move faster through diagnosis, solution and implementation and encourage the client staff to do the same.

However, remember that speed is not everything. Don't move so fast to a solution that the client is left behind. Many of us have solved the problem (or at least so we thought) on the first day and were anxious to implement the solution. But, unless a client wants a turnkey solution instead of advice on how they can address the issue, you do more harm than good by rushing.

Tip: Once you have the lay of the land in an engagement, discuss with your client what functions, processes and people are likely to be the "rate limiting step" of your consulting process. It might be information management, or staff scheduling, or approvals. Agree with your client which ones are worth waiting for and which ones hinder rapid results. With this mutual understanding, and recognizing that some elements of your client's operation may not be able to move as fast as everyone wants, you can press ahead as fast as you have explicitly agreed with your client.

© 2008 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client service 

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#928: The Public Image of Consultants

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Updated: Sunday, December 14, 2008
I see data all the time of how people mistrust lawyers and accountants, our fellow professional service providers. What is the public image of management consultants?

The question is a bit tricky since, although consultants, lawyers, and accountants are all professional service providers, consultants deal very little with the public at large. Public surveys of professions mostly deal with "retail" services such as nurses, bankers, lawyers, car salespeople, etc. Consultants, however, generally deal with businesses, even if some of those businesses are quite small. Therefore, surveys are rare that include consultants unless the respondents are business people.

In prior Daily Tips, we have reported that consultants generally are viewed skeptically by business people (generally not the people hiring or using consultants) but not by their direct clients. However, how the public sees professionals does depend on perceptions of ethical behaviors taken in doing their work. Used car salespeople and lobbyists are mistrusted by the public because they are seen as doing anything for money. Nurses are seen as having high ethics because they are seen as putting the patient's interest first.

Tip: Perceptions of ethics matter, not just in your perceived value to the client but in whether you get selected for assisting them at all. As a consultant, do you make it clear that you are charging for every hour worked, or do you regularly suggest additional work (within reason) that you will provide at no cost because it is in the client's interest? Do you go out of your way to be respectful to not just the client but to his or her staff, vendors, and other consultants? Look at how the public sees various professions and think about how these professions interact with the public that creates that impression. Look at a recent Gallup poll of public perception of professional ethics. And look at how using the IMC USA Code of Ethics could help enhance your client's perception of your ethics.

© 2008 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  brand  customer understanding  ethics  goodwill 

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#927: Letters to the Editor

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Monday, November 24, 2008
Updated: Sunday, December 14, 2008
I do my share of speaking at trade events, have a blog with a fair amount of traffic and am active in my professional association. What are some other ways to get in front of people in my industry?

There are certainly many ways to do this but one that is often overlooked is writing letters to the editor of your local newspaper, business journal or trade publication. While this does not replace other activities to get your name in front of prospective clients and your professional colleagues, it does it in a way that is often more powerful.

When you write a letter to the editor, your response is usually short, pointed, relevant to today's news, and in a place where people are actively seeking information. Think about it. A brochure has information about your services but is rarely in a prospect's hands when they are looking for those services. Conversely, people reading the editorial pages of a business journal are highly interested in information, trends or opinions about their industry. These are likely the most motivated, qualified buyers of professional services because they are active information seekers.

Tip: Take a stab at selecting a few relevant publications, find out the contact information and letter submission protocol (this is usually where people abandon their motivation to write because they have to take time get this information), and commit to write three letters to the editor this week. It is not always easy to get your letters published because so many people write in. However, if your response is well crafted, is the right length, and addresses (or contradicts - always good copy) the topic of the day, your chances go way up. The side benefit of this activity is that you will become more focused on the news and industry trends.

© 2008 Institute of Management Consultants USA

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