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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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Top tags: client relations  communication  customer understanding  your consulting practice  marketing  consultant role  learning  client service  reputation  goodwill  consulting process  market research  practice management  sales  ethics  planning  client development  engagement management  innovation  proposals  professional development  professionalism  knowledge assets  prospect  trends  presentations  recommendations  consulting colleagues  intellectual property  product development 

#401: Understand Misconceptions About Publishers Before You Write That Book

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Monday, September 27, 2010
Updated: Monday, September 27, 2010
I want to publish a book but people who done it tell me getting a publisher is not always easy. What do I need to know as a "reality check” before I get going? Isn’t getting a publisher the best way to go? 

Many people fail to realize that signing a contract with a book publisher comes with its own set of problems. Contrary to widespread assumption, a commercial book publisher typically does not take care of its authors with much help in either promotion or distribution.
  • Misconception 1: A book publisher will aggressively promote me and my book, ensuring my book the widest possible visibility.
  • Misconception 2: A publisher will make sure my book gets on the shelves of all the nation’s bookstores, especially the largest ones.
  • Misconception 3: A publisher will endorse, print, and communicate my ideas the way I conceive them and arrange them.
  • Misconception 4: A publisher will provide me with a sizable monetary advance, allowing me to take time off from my regular work so that I can focus exclusively on the book.
  • Misconception 5: A publisher will keep my book in circulation long enough for it to find its audience and build a following.
  • Misconception 6: A publisher will keep the book updated by coming out with revised editions.
If you have any of these thoughts, then you need to work with a publisher or a publishing advisor.

Tip: For a reality-check for you so you'll know what you’re getting into, check The Expert's Edge: Become the Go-To Authority People Turn to Every Time(McGraw Hill) by Ken Lizotte CMC.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  advice  publicity  publishing 

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#400: Get Slightly Famous to Bring Business to You

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Friday, September 24, 2010
Updated: Friday, September 24, 2010
Some consultants have a steady stream of business from their fame from books, speaking or research. I don't have anything other than my skills and experience. How can I generate some interest in my business.

Familiarity creates comfort and at least one of the components of trust. We are comfortable with things we recognize, including taking advice from people we know. How likely are you to consider a movie review from a stranger compared to one from someone you know? Celebrity endorsements are effective because the people doing the endorsements are familiar to us, even if we really don't "know" them.

So, if we aren't a celebrity, how do we create the comfort that will make it likely that prospects will welcome our calls? Furthermore, what do we need to do to turn the corner and actually get them to seek us out?

We don't have to be really famous to get attention. In the absence of a full blown media campaign, though, we do need to identify that one thing that allows us to just be "slightly famous"? How do we define that one niche of our work for which we could be known? How do we translate that, without a complex marketing plan, into a presence in our target industry? How can we use cause marketing to differentiate ourselves from others? How do we actually create brand loyalty, not just awareness?

Tip: Using his journalism skills, results of his research and experience creating brands for his solo practitioner clients, Steve Van Yoder has captured the straightforward elements of bringing clients to you in Get Slightly Famous: Become a Celebrity in Your Field and Attract More Business with Less Effort. The concepts are relatively simple - not necessarily effortless. Unlike lots of books on creating marketing gravity for your practice, Get Slightly Famous lays out a focused process for better defining your unique value and attracting media, attention and business. As the economy starts to recover, this is the perfect time to get your publicity in gear.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  brand  brand management  market research  marketing  referrals  social media 

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#399: Consider an Engagement Charter as a Consulting Best Practice

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Thursday, September 23, 2010
Updated: Thursday, September 23, 2010
Most consultants use the engagement letter as the basis of their project plan. Is this enough?

Sufficiency of the engagement letter to guide (both managerially and legally) the project depends on the complexity of the project, how predictable it is, and the detail provided in the engagement letter itself. Engagement letters can be quite simple and, as such, may not provide clear guidance.

Something that consultants use with project teams may have value in laying out the relationship between the consultant and the client manager. Project charters are critical to create consensus on authorities, roles and responsibilities, resource requirements, timelines, satisfactory performance, work products, and performance outcomes. Mutually developing a client-consultant charter is extremely useful in driving how the principal consultant and principal client representative will interact, who occupies what roles and how project disruptions will be resolved.

Let me be clear. A charter goes beyond the typical engagement letter or even the internal (often quite detailed) project plan, which describes an arms length set of protocols. The charter, thoroughly discussed withthe client team, should include expectations of how much time the client will devote to the project, how (and how quickly) guidance will be provided and deliverables approved, and how emergent risks and mitigation activities will be dealt with.

Tip: Once you and the client have worked out the details of "what" will be done by consultants and client staff, a charter (even if not shared with others) represents the commitment between you and the client as to how the two of you will personally assure that the project stays on track.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client relations  client service  consultant role  customer understanding  engagement management  goodwill 

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#398: Why Should Anyone Team With/Work For You?

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Updated: Wednesday, September 22, 2010
About a decade ago, I left a large consulting firm as a partner to go out on my own. I am now looking to build a small firm and wondered if you had some advice on how to attract the best candidates.

You are not the only independent consultant looking to create a small firm, finding that right balance of size and capacity. Unlike a large firm with the size and large client base to create and publicize a reputation, you must rely on your own personal reputation. While this is likely a good draw, here is one idea to polish that draw.

You probably have developed a solid value case of why clients should use your services. You explain the value you bring, based on your technology, experience, insight, etc. What you probably do not have is a parallel set of arguments of why someone should work with or team with you.

What would you say to a person considering joining your firm as a partner or associate to convince them that this was a good choice? Is it your expertise, access to clients, work-life balance, location, technology, client base, type of projects, innovation, or other factor? What unique set of characteristics or potential can you offer that is different from other consulting firms? Is there something in this list that you wish you had but don't? Isn't this something that should be in your firm development plan?

Tip: If you are thinking that you don't need to go through this exercise because you are not planning to grow, think again. You should make a list of the top ten reasons why you (yes, you) should continue to work at your own firm and, by inference, why you shouldn't leave (or fire yourself). If your description sounds like lots of other consulting firms, think about whether clients also see your firm as being like lots of other firms.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  product development  your consulting practice 

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#397: Create the Right Environment to Create Great Ideas

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Why do some consultants seem to have an endless stream of new ideas and others (most of us) create only interesting, but merely incremental, ideas for new services or products?

Two things make the difference: where ideas come from and how they turn into something tangible. First, eurekas, epiphanies, breakthroughs and WOW! moments are created mostly from assembling and reconfiguring existing knowledge. Look at any "management breakthrough" and you will see elements of traditional, and usually widely known, concepts or processes. Despite the common image of the solitary inventor or the firm working on a secret project, discoveries rarely arise from isolated effort. Perhaps more important than effort or intellectual prowess is the role other people play in creation of "our” ideas. Bounce ideas off other people, ask for help and don’t feel like divulging ideas will lead to people stealing them.

The second point is that new concepts don't spring from our heads fully formed. They sometimes take months or years to develop. We have a hunch but not the insight, an insight but not a way to deliver it, an efficient delivery mechanism but not the business case to make it a consulting service. Sharing these ideas, reading and discussing ideas in other disciplines, trying them out in non-business settings can all promote development. Think slow cooking, not microwave. Finally, recognizing that it takes time, don't abandon an idea that you think is going nowhere too quickly.

Steven Johnson has a great short (17 min) video summary of the importance of collaboration.

Tip: Just as Louis Pasteur said that "Chance favors the prepared mind," when it comes to innovation, we could amend that to say that chance favors the connected mind. Make it a habit to (1) keep your not yet developed ideas in play as long as possible, and (2) discuss them with colleagues, especially those who do not necessarily have the same perspective as you do.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  collaboration  consulting colleagues  innovation  product development 

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