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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 

#459: Make Your Consulting Practice Scalable and Extensible

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Thursday, December 16, 2010
Updated: Thursday, December 16, 2010
I have been a consultant for a few years and this is tougher than I imagined. After thinking about my years as an executive, I am coming to the conclusion that selling hours is a hard road to financial success. Is there a secret I am missing?

Producing any commodity that has both limited supply and that is arguably substitutable is a hard way to make money. You only have so many hours available to advise clients and there are any number of other consultants who provide similar services, even if you assert that no one is like you. As I suspect was true with your former company, the prospect of financial success comes from higher prices for unique (i.e., highly valued) services that you sell each hour, or through a scalable and/or extensible set of consulting offerings.

Scalable means that you break the hourly barrier by producing multiple units for a fixed input of resources (hours in your case), maybe by creating a book, webinar, seminars, intellectual property or other product you can create once and sell repeatedly. Extensible means taking into consideration a path for future development, growth, evolution and expansion. Although extensibility is most commonly used in terms of software engineering, it can apply to consulting where you design your services to accommodate adding complementary services and products (e.g., training courses that can be augmented with modules to expand the range or comprehensiveness of your practice).

Tip: It is hard to break out of the hours trap but work on your business design with principles like scalability and extensibility in mind, along with other principles that might lead to higher value services, such as frugality, transparency, (future) regulatory conformance, and others that fit with your more output for your limited input.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client service  intellectual property  knowledge assets  practice management  product development  teaching/training  your consulting practice 

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#451: It's Always a Good Idea to Have an Idea Box

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Monday, December 6, 2010
Updated: Monday, December 6, 2010
In my reading and going to conferences and professional development events, I often run across ideas that resonate but don't apply to my consulting practice right now. Later, I wish I could remember where those ideas came from. Any ideas how to track down these ideas?

You can always use Google or other Internet search tools to find resources related to an idea you recall. You can even use an arcane technique, rarely used these days, called "asking a colleague." This does require picking up the phone or getting together to talk with someone, but the technology still works!

However, what about those great ideas you don't recall but might be just what you need? You know a great idea when you see or hear it. We suggest creating in "Idea Box (or Folder, or File)."

Ideas come in many formats - images, scribbled notes, electronic documents, recordings, etc. Converting them to electronic format is hard because it seems like too much effort and organizing them is hard because the filing taxonomy isn't clear when you are collecting random ideas.

Just set up a box, file drawer, or folder to collect hand written notes, pictures, printouts, magazine articles, etc. that strike you as interesting. Make notes on each of what impressed you and how you might use this in the future. If there is a specific time you might use it (e.g., ideas for speeches, when you land a certain client), set up a category (folder) for those items.

Tip: Regularly go through the Idea Box and toss out bad ideas and update notes. Over time, an organizing scheme will become evident. This will keep your innovation pipeline full and help you create new services for clients and your practice.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  information management  intellectual property  knowledge assets  market research 

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#429: Get Paid to Generate Your Own Leads

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Thursday, November 4, 2010
Updated: Thursday, November 4, 2010
I wrote a series of white papers that I offer through my website. My intent was to have people who read these papers be sufficiently impressed or intrigued that they retain my services. People are certainly downloading, but no one is buying. What's wrong?

Your strategy is good in principle. Combining a bit of research with a summary of your expertise and ideas about trends or key issues in an industry is a good idea. Clients appreciate the perspective and data, and logic would suggest that if they find the content interesting, they'd want to learn more. However, people buy on emotion rather than logic. Here's a slight variation on your strategy that may make it more effective.

Tip: What if you charged a few dollars for your work? I don't mean charging $100, $50, or even $30. Think about $5 for a 10-page white paper. This taps into the psychology of buying where people perceive greater value for the "second cheapest" and "second most expensive" products. To many, free means limited value and many who download your white papers may never consider them valuable enough to open and read them.

Charging $5 for a report looks like a loss leader (especially if you compare it to a much more expensive research report or trend report you offer on your site). The money is minimal but the emotional commitment to your research or opinion is much higher than it would be if it were free. Your leads are much more qualified, your products are more likely to be read, and you make a few dollars to offset some costs.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  intellectual property  market research  marketing  product development  prospect  sales 

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#402: Share Your Innovation With Your Clients

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Updated: Tuesday, September 28, 2010
I know people more readily accept ideas they generate themselves. However, there are times I also know that one of my proprietary concepts would be perfect for a client. I am torn between taking credit (because I worked hard to create it) and letting them use it (so they get the value they deserve).

Consultants who generate a lot of ideas, approaches and methodologies face this often, but the steady stream of new ideas contains the answer to your dilemma. We most protect the ideas that we think we can't replace. If you are generating state of the art (or at least so you think) concepts, then even if you let a client use one, there will be more. But even if you only have one or two proprietary methodologies, there is still away for both of you to win.

You do not have to "give away" anything. Clients respect (or should) your intellectual property and letting them use your construct to develop solutions to their problems is integral to what you do as a consultant. It is, in fact, the basis of your value and, even if they use your methodology to arrive at a solution, it is perfectly appropriate to ask them to honor your intellectual property rights and to provide full attribution.

Tip: Ask to prepare (or at least approve) the final graphics of the client work product featuring your visual concept or text they use to describe the source of the methodology. This way, you will be assured that your property rights are respected and that proper attribution is made. A client using your methodology is not an assault on your creation, but a great way to increase its value through publicity in "real" use.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client relations  innovation  intellectual property  knowledge assets 

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#376: Don't Get Trapped by Allegiance to Only One School of Thought

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Monday, August 23, 2010
Why do some clients (and some consultants, for that matter) insist on only one brand of assessments, approaches, processes, etc. when there are a range of proven and innovative options?

Be careful here. Whether we develop them ourselves or adopt (or adapt) concepts developed by others, consultants can settle into allegiances from which we are hard to dislodge. Despite evidence to the contrary, we stay in our conceptual lanes and dismiss any concept that we think doesn't align with what we already know and use. For example, even though there are a dozen nuanced approaches to strategy, we only use the planning, environmental, transformation, cultural or other concept.

However easy it is for us, this is ultimately a disservice to our clients. Our obligation is to provide the best advice to each client, not just what's easiest for us to deliver. Also, consider why there are so many variations on a theme in assessments, approaches, etc. for consultants. It's because, as consultants, we frequently repackage and rename an old concept, write articles and a book, heavily promote it as "revolutionary" and dismiss other good ideas that aren't consistent. I am a firm believer that there is rarely anything new under the sun and, as we repeatedly discover, each "revolutionary" management concept has its adherents before being cast off in favor of the next variation.

Tip: This has gotten to be such a problem, especially in its power to squelch debate about improving a discipline, that it has led to the Oath of Non-Allegiance, which states: I promise not to exclude from consideration any idea based on its source, but to consider ideas across schools and heritages in order to find the ones that best suit the current situation (more from my website). The movement is intended to end statements like, "This idea is not worth discussion. It doesn't include ______ criteria or align with the ______ method." As professionals, management consultants can do better than intellectual or methodological parochiality.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client service  consulting process  consulting tools  intellectual property  knowledge assets  product development  professionalism  your consulting practice 

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