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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 

#298: Who Cares if Your Consultancy Fails?

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Updated: Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Clients often ask for bids on specific engagements and then complain that consultants only offer the same services as everyone else. How are we supposed to stand out when we are just responding to what we are asked?

I understand your point but you are also not being fair to clients. Just because they ask for something does not mean you are unable to propose alternative approaches or even alternative outcomes. If we just feed back what we think clients want to hear, we miss our opportunity to use our experience, education and expertise to advance the client's condition. To put it another way, if you went out of business, would anyone care? Are your consulting services so unique, however large or small your market, that they could not be provided by any other consulting firm?

Youngme Moon's new book Different: Escaping the Competitive Herd is a reminder that providing the same consulting services as everyone else makes them commodities and makes them valued at the lowest price. Different, scarce, and unusual consulting services - that still get the job done but show some innovation and creativity - will command both attention and higher market value.

Tip: Be constantly innovating in the scope and process by which you provide consulting services. Whether it is focusing on agility, intangible capital, or other "new looks" at management, your uncommon take on your client's future can make it so that people would notice it if your consultancy disappeared.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  brand  brand management  client development  client service  innovation  intellectual property  product development  reputation  sustainability  your consulting practice 

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#288: Getting Some Quick Consulting Work

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Updated: Wednesday, April 21, 2010
I just got started in consulting and am looking to jump-start my practice. I am willing to do all the things you've been suggesting, but I need some immediate cash flow or I won't make it. Any ideas?

Here are three suggestions that might help:
  1. Go to your largest prospect(s) (or industry association) and offer to do a study/analysis for them, one that they would find valuable and offer to do it at whatever they would be willing to pay. Don't negotiate. Get them to agree the study/analysis might be valuable and show them why you are uniquely qualified to do this and that the fee can't be a problem since they will set it.
  2. Offer to put together a unique seminar for your field and ask for a one-time development fee, and reasonable fees for presenting it, granting the sponsor co-ownership of the IP (intellectual property).
  3. Send a letter to your top ten prospects and make them an offer they can't refuse, i.e., delivering results or your fee is zero.
The focus here is results that these prospects feel are credible based on the way presented and your background. Don’t forget: these are very short-term strategies and you should let the recipients of your communications understand the rationale, i.e., you are just getting started and willing to do this now. Later they will be standing in line (if you do all the smart things we suggest, and you come up with and deliver results for clients).

Tip: This is a great test of your consulting services' market value. However, make sure you circle back to confirm whether your clients felt that they got their money's worth. Many will pay you want you and they negotiated but you might be pleasantly surprised to hear that you were worth more than they paid. Who knows, they might even be willing to change the payment to something closer to the value received.

P.S. This may also work well in slow times for etablished consultants.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client development  marketing  proposals  prospect 

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#279: Building Business Close to Home

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Thursday, April 8, 2010
Updated: Thursday, April 8, 2010
I used to work for a large consulting firm and was on the road a lot. Now that I have my own firm and would rather spend time with my family, how do I build a solid base of local business?

Building a local base takes experimentation. Try some of these strategies, including a new approach to any of these strategies that "didn't work before."
  1. Join the local chapter of a professional or trade group in the industry in which you'd like to work. There are probably new groups that didn't exist when you last looked.
  2. Join the service clubs, chambers, and community associations in which your clients are members. Make sure you are an active and visible contributor to the community, and not think being a member on the list is enough.
  3. Get to know the local press, i.e., business, community, etc. and offer to write commentary on business trends or in response to local news. This is in addition to your social media activities (people still read local print media).
  4. Hold an event either in your home or in a club, restaurant or hotel. Do these with no expectations but bringing people together. Those who need your services will come to you.
  5. Send a clipping or printout of a relevant article regularly to your prospect list to keep you top of mind. Keep the focus local (e.g., it could be an industry-wide topic, but make your comments about how it might be relevant to a local company).
  6. Teach for the most prestigious local university or at a mid- to large-size corporate university.
  7. Offer to do a regular column for the appropriate local newspaper or magazine. You may want to team up with a partner for this, one who is already well-known in the local market.
  8. Publish a brief newsletter (hard copy or online) targeted to an industry or a local business sector.
Tip: There are lots of ways to increase your visibility but put yourself in front of your prospects in the most favorable, persistent way you can imagine. We just need to readjust our span of view from national to local. Considering that you probably only worked with a few clients at a time when you were national - remember that there are hundreds of prospects in your own backyard.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client development  consulting lifestyle  customer understanding  marketing  work-life balance 

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#276: Building the Economic Buyer From Within

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Monday, April 5, 2010
Updated: Monday, April 5, 2010
In developing new business it is often hard to reach the true economic buyer. The gatekeepers are pretty good at keeping consultants at bay. Do you have any advice on how to connect with economic buyers?

Connecting with an economic buyer is more than just identifying who it is and getting past gatekeepers a meeting with them. Focusing on just getting past gatekeepers misses an opportunity to make sure the meeting itself produces the results we want.

Know as much as you can about the company. Develop a cadre of inside resources likely connected to the economic buyer. Get to know personnel in HR, research, legal counsel, marketing, and other departments related to areas of activity in which you'd like to work.

Tip: Get to know them, find out about their work, and learn about the needs of the company. Once you have done this, let them specifically know about your desire to meet with the economic buyer. Describe your intended services, confirm that the person you think is the economic buyer is indeed the right person, and ask their advice on how to make that contact. This will give you a robust view of how best to describe and present your services to the buyer. It also pays dividends later by having a ready made groups of allies who can help you best serve the client organization.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client development  consulting process  customer understanding  market research  marketing 

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#273: Consulting for a Green World

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Updated: Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Green business is growing, with political and technological advances creating a demand for green products, green regulation and green management. How can I get up to speed on my opportunities in this space?

The most interesting aspect of the greening of business is that, regardless of your particular industry or discipline, you can participate in making your client more sustainable and, ultimately, profitable.

This is not the place to go into green market trends but here are two tips for where to look in your own space for green opportunities

First, what services do you provide that directly affect green products? If you consult on telecommuting, then the potential to reduce transportation costs fuel for commuters creates a good market for your services. If you advise governments on land use planning, then businesses will be interested in your skills to reduce facility energy and water use costs.

Second, what industries are most at risk for climate change impacts? KPMG recently identified industries that are most at risk of climate change impacts and poorly prepared. These include transportation, tourism, aviation, health care, finance, and oil and gas If you work in these industries, how could you reduce risk or improve preparedness?

Tip: An increasing number of firms are providing sustainability training and services that consultants can take advantage of. For example greensupplychain.org provides consultants with partnering opportunities to enter the green consulting space with your own clients or into new markets.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client development  customer understanding  marketing  trends  your consulting practice 

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