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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 

#669: Strengthen Your Brand With Your Voicemail

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Thursday, October 6, 2011
Updated: Thursday, October 6, 2011
How important is my voicemail message?

How important is any aspect of your presence that makes a first (or reinforced) impression? Our voice mail message is often ignored as a part of our branding. Most of our voice messages go something like: "You've reached Mary Smith. I am not here now but if you leave your name and number I'll call you back as soon as I can." Efficient, but it may miss an opportunity to reinforce your brand.

The above message leaves a few questions unanswered. Is there something Mary Smith would like to reinforce in the mind of the caller - such as the fact that Mary is the author of a new book or is known as an expert on supply chain safety? How likely is Mary to call back any time soon (I know one consultant who says "I will return your call at my convenience" - maybe true but hardly customer friendly)? It even sounds like Mary was in a bad mood (or whispering into the phone) when she recorded the message.

Whether the caller is a colleague, client, prospect or reporter, you'd like to make sure they know who you are, what you stand for, and how you want to relate to them. Use your voicemail message to strengthen your brand by scripting what you want callers to think and feel as they leave you a message. Reinforce your core brand. Clarify your operational style and values. Leave them excited about your return call.

Tip: Think about your brand and write a few alternative voicemail scripts. Run them by a colleague and confirm that they accurately reflect your intended image. Consider having someone with an "announcer's" voice record your message. Also, you may want several messages on hand to provide variety or to emphasize different elements of your brand. Once you are using your new voicemail message, ask your friends what they think when they hear it.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  brand  brand management  communication  image 

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#664: Client Satisfaction is Not Enough

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Thursday, September 29, 2011
Updated: Thursday, September 29, 2011
I would guess most consultants review their project with their clients at the end of the project, if not regularly during the project. If the client retains you or your firm for subsequent projects, you might assume they were satisfied, but not necessarily. How "satisfied" does a client have to be to make ongoing work likely?

For al the discussion, books and articles, research and methodologies developed about customer satisfaction, it is amazing that we still use the term "satisfied" when referring to evaluation. Consider how you feel about a product you buy or a service you use. If you are just "satisfied," it is as likely as not that you are looking for something better. You won't be disappointed enough to not use the product or service again but you wouldn't go out of your way to do so.

What we should all seek is customer "enthusiasm." We want an emotional connection, a desire, or a need to use your services - not just a "good enough" reaction. We can’t find this out by asking "are you satisfied with our work" type questions. We can do this by exceeding expectations, making the impact of our services as much emotional as intellectual, and baking our work into the culture of the client organization, not just its policy manuals. In both design and delivery, think about how your intervention can be a pleasant surprise that client staff will talk about after you deliver it.

Tip: We tend to be pleased with ourselves when we deliver sophisticated, effective, elegant solutions. These are good attributes but if the client is not wowed that you have significantly made their life easier or better in some surprising way, you will not generate the customer enthusiasm needed to guarantee your ongoing relationship. Think about how you feel when you see a movie or go to a restaurant or read a book you just have to tell your friends about. Look at a video of the Dubai Fountain (by the same designer as Las Vegas' Bellagio fountain) and think how amazing it is. Make your clients feel just as amazed.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  brand  brand management  client relations  reputation 

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#658: Perfecting Your Brochure

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, September 21, 2011
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.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  brand  brand management  presentations  prospect  sales  your consulting practice 

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#648: What Do Others Say About You?

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Wednesday, September 7, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, September 7, 2011
When I hear some consultants talk about their colleagues in an unfavorable light, and the comments seem to be inconsistent with my experience with the people they are talking about, I have two reactions. One is that I wonder what they are saying about me when I am not around. The other is I wonder how much I can trust them to be honest with clients and colleagues if I were to team with them. Should I be worried?

You are right to be worried about comments like that. Disparaging one's colleagues in public is unprofessional and, in fact a violation of the IMC USA Code of Ethics. Paragraph 14 states: I will not advertise my services in a deceptive manner nor misrepresent or denigrate individual consulting practitioners, consulting firms, or the consulting profession. Of course, if you have solid evidence to think unfavorably about another consultant, then you can certainly make your own decisions about teaming based on that knowledge.

If a consultant has something to say about another consultant, they can say it to the person's face. You are not the only one who notices these things. Clients occasionally say that one of the most important factors in judging the professionalism of their consultants is how well they get along with other consultants. For these clients, your bad mouthing another consultant will just damage your own reputation with the client.

Tip: Make it a point to get to know other consultants personally, more than just by reputation. Until you do, and begin to appreciate their perspective, experience and skills, refrain from commenting judgmentally about their character and consulting acumen or expertise.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  brand management  consulting colleagues  ethics  reputation  trust 

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#632: How You Can Help Protect Your Client's Reputation

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, August 16, 2011
If my client's reputation takes a hit because of scandal, supplier problems or a reorganization (hopefully not related to my work), what can I do to help restore it?

We are fortunate if our clients escape hits to their reputation from the kind of causes you cite, or from any of a number of smaller events. In the case of a major crisis, many companies can use the services of a PR or crisis management firm. However, your value as a consultant in any area is enhanced by contributing your knowledge of client strategy, operations and culture to a plan for reputation recovery.

Responsibility for managing a crisis and preventing damage to or restoring a company's reputation generally falls to the CEO or Board. Even if you do not work for either of these, your client may well be called on to participate in any recovery plan. Global PR and communications firm Burson-Marsteller surveyed companies to come up with the following list of restoration strategies and how you might help (in order of importance):
  • Issuing an apology from the CEO (you might help provide data or draft messaging points)
  • Committing itself to better corporate citizenship (you might suggest a change in strategy or processes to better engage the community or customers)
  • Providing crisis information on the company's Web site (same as above to contribute in your area of expertise)
  • Hiring a new CEO (tread carefully as you provide your opinion, if asked)
  • Hiring an outside auditor to perform internal audits (you may be able to provide these services or participate in the audit)
Imagine a crisis that is typical of your client's industry and think about what you could do in each of the above to help.

Tip: Read The Road to Reputation Recovery for some quick perspective and suggestions of how you can participate in rescuing a client's image. This won't make you an expert but it will sensitize you to how you might contribute some value.

Tags:  brand management  goodwill  reputation 

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