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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 

#286: Creating Tips for Your Clients

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Monday, April 19, 2010
Updated: Monday, April 19, 2010
These daily tips are really valuable. They keep me thinking about how to improve my consulting skills and grow my business. Should I do something similar for my prospects and clients?

We get asked this question more than you might think. Tips are written to stimulate your creativity, keep you in a zone of continual improvement, and help you remember those good practices you used to use but just let lapse. Why wouldn't your clients get the same kinds of benefits?

Writing tips does take some time and it helps to have a plan of what to write and how to communicate them. Because IMC USA membership covers almost every technical discipline and industry, the tips are not about any one professional perspective. They are for anyone to use, and most apply just as well to professions other than management consulting.

First, be clear about your objectives. Ours is consistent with our mission to promote excellence and ethics in management consulting. Yours might be to educate clients about a specific aspect of their operations. Or it might be to hint at your particular capabilities. However, if these focus on you rather than the reader, they become obvious commercials.

Second, select a format that engages your reader. We selected the "call and response" format because it clarifies the tip's purpose and often reflects questions we get about consulting. Tips need to be short and to the point. If you have a mechanism for feedback, pay attention to reader response to refine your tips. Make sure you conform to CAN-SPAM rules about opt-in and opt-out (assuming your tips are by email). Finally, pick a time frame that works (daily, weekly or other) that meets your need and reader preferences.

Tip: If thought out well, this can be a powerful support for your brand. Over time, your readers will be looking forward to receiving your tips and begin to ask for your advice.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client service  communication  intellectual property  knowledge assets  marketing  reputation  writing 

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#285: Experience is Not the Same as Skill

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Friday, April 16, 2010
Updated: Friday, April 16, 2010
I get concerned when I hear people say, "After I retire, I think I'll do a little consulting." They seem to think that just because they have years of experience in a technology or industry, this somehow qualifies them to just wake up one day and start advising management. Am I wrong in feeling this way?

Management consulting is an unlicensed occupation, thus has low barriers to entry. However, it is still a profession requiring specific standards, a body of knowledge, competencies, skills, behaviors, and ethics. Too many organizations find out the hard way that hiring someone who "does a little consulting" is vastly different than hiring a professional consultant.

Much of consulting's bad reputation comes from individuals who portray themselves as professionals but lack the skills, behaviors or discipline required. Experience is not the same as skill.

Having experience in an area has little to do with one's ability to advise management in that area. It is like saying, "I raised three children over the past twenty years - I think I'll do a little pediatrics." Such a statement is laughable, and you wouldn't trust your child to someone who made that claim. So why would you trust your company to someone who isn't certified?

To assure expertise and skills, we recommend using only those professionals who are certified or licensed by a national or international body. Examples include Professional Engineers (PE), medical doctors (MD), Certified Public Accountants (CPA), and Certified Management Consultants (CMC). All of these professionals prove a long term commitment to the profession and meet or exceed rigorous professional standards. This should give clients the assurance that they are "in good hands."

With ISO 17024 standards for management consultants on the horizon, it is becoming apparent to more managers that professional standards are a preferred way to select consultants. As the international standard for management consultants, recognized in 46 countries, the Certified Management Consultant (CMC) designation is becoming the global standard for managers to find trusted, proven and ethical professional consultants.

Tip: The next time someone says that they "do a little engineering (or medicine or consulting)," make sure they are certified or licensed. Learn more about the CMC or forward this to colleagues interested in becoming certified consultants.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  brand management  certification  consultant role  customer understanding  ethics  knowledge assets  professional development  professionalism  reputation  your consulting practice 

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#284: Marketing Through Trade Associations

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Thursday, April 15, 2010
Updated: Thursday, April 15, 2010
The industry I consult to is growing so fast that I'll never be able to market to all of them. How can I get more leverage than by contacting each one individually?

Trade and industry associations exist to serve their members. In associations where the members are companies, the association often collects information on member capabilities, activities, and investment or customer service plans. They often publish a newsletter or studies of industry activity, key issues or trends and major opportunities or constraints facing the industry.

If you consult to an industry, you should be in close contact with the trade association (sometimes there are several for various aspects of an industry). Use collected information on the industry or, better yet, do your own research or write articles for the association publications. Speak at their annual conference, join as an affiliate member, and participate in forums or study groups.

Being front and center in an industry as an active participant in an association demonstrates to others that you are a professional. Imagine how much more credible as a trusted advisor you are when industry mavens see your name in industry association publications and know you are committed to their industry. Make sure they know you are a member or are otherwise affiliated with the association.

Tip: The effect is similar when you talk to your clients and let them know that you are a member of a professional consulting organization and not "just doing a little consulting" while looking for another job in the industry. Certainly, being able to show that you are a member of IMC, which sets the standards and competency framework for professional consulting in the US, enforces ethics and certifies consultants to global standards, will increase your credibility.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  marketing  professionalism  publicity  reputation  sales 

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#283: Do You Really Understand Other Generations?

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Updated: Thursday, April 15, 2010
As consultants, we are supposed to be able to quickly assess various business environments, understand cultural and technological trends and, in general, be able to see how others see the world. Intellectually, this may make sense, but can a person really understand fully the perspective of another generation?

Here's a test. Watch any of the following four short videos: Wheter you are a Baby Boomer, Greatest Generation or GenXer, think about how hard it would be to convey the social or personal significance of these events, activities or icons to someone of another generation. You could tell them what it was like but would they really feel it the same way you do when you watched these videos? If you are not one of these generations, show these to someone who is and let them try explain it to you.

In either case, you will begin to appreciate how truly distinct the culture of each generation is at the most basic level. We would do well to remember this the next time we assume we "get" a different culture, age group, or technical discipline.

Tip: As another treat, watch When Life Was Black and White. Send any comments you have to Connector@imcusa.org.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  business culture  customer understanding  demographics  trends 

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#282: Do Clients Insist on Your Brand?

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Updated: Tuesday, April 13, 2010
My services (process improvement) are similar to those provided by dozens of other consultants. I don't even know how many competitors I have, but there must be a lot because I am not getting as many engagements as I should. How do I increase my win rate?

It's not clear how to respond to your statement of how much you "should" be winning. However, there is one thing you can do to make sure you win engagements from clients who pick from a basket of similar consultants or decide solely on price.

What if you could create in your prospective customer's minds an insistence for your brand, not merely brand awareness. We are all aware of a lot of brands such as sports teams, soft drinks, and automobiles. However, we are somewhat indifferent between them if we had to make a decision under duress and would find any one of the items in these categories acceptable for entertainment, thirst quenching or transportation.

You say you don't know who your competition is, but you do know that there is a reason why your clients selected you over your competitors. Ask each of your clients what it was that they saw in you that made you the most attractive choice.

Tip: Perhaps more important, ask them what would cause them to select someone in the future, and how your services, reputation, pricing, ethics, etc. align with those criteria. This is the kind of solid market research you need to solidify your brand so that prospects will insist on it.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  brand  brand management  client relations  competition  customer understanding  market research  marketing  reputation 

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