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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 

#263: Revisit Your Marketing Collateral

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Updated: Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Over the years I have developed a great collection of white papers, blogs and feature articles. I consider these timeless advice and descriptions of my services but I am wondering whether they need to be updated.

After even a few years, you should review your collateral to see if it is dated. As much as you are proud of your work, business practices, technology and consulting approaches evolve. Even if your service is the same high quality as it always has been, and your clients are still satisfied, managers will evaluate the relevance of your services in terms of how it relates to those of your competitors (who will make sure their services are "up to date").

Tip: Perhaps more than anything else, it is terminology that must be reviewed. Imagine a client who is approached by a consultant offering to provide TQM (Total Quality Management) or ADP (Automated Data Processing) services. These are extreme examples of terms that stopped being used decades ago. In some cases, updating the nomenclature is not enough and the entire concept of the piece may need to be revised.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  communication  customer understanding  intellectual property  marketing  presentations  product development  sales 

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#245: Take Time to Build Your Knowledge Assets

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Friday, February 19, 2010
Updated: Friday, February 19, 2010
I would like to write a book or column for my trade journal, but I know it takes a lot of time and effort and I'm not sure it is worth it. Is this a worthwhile investment or am I better off just delivering client services?

There are really two questions here. The first is whether there is value in the visibility of publishing and the answer is, to some extent, yes. There are still many people to whom author credentials signify expertise. If so and so wrote a book, they must be an expert (despite the fact that their book ranks 1,800,000th on Amazon). But it is not so much publication, per se, that is the underlying issue, which raises the second question.

Are you creating anything of value? We all read lots of articles or books on business or consulting and wonder to ourselves how many more times can we see the same content year after year (or decade). Is there really anything that some publisher won't put out? So, this brings us to where you can create some value with new ideas. These can be your detection of trends that are not obvious or creation of processes to tackle new challenges that (1) have not been described before, and (2) you have applied several times and can demonstrate that they are effective.

Tip: It is easy for consultants to spend all their time delivering services to clients. However, if you really want to demonstrate your expertise, spend at least one-half of your professional development and research time (which, in itself, should be about one-fourth of your time) creating new knowledge. Part of this can be to take a project you just completed and critically evaluating its effectiveness and refining the process to use next time. This deliberate, controlled creation of knowledge assets over time will provide both better client value but give you something you can really write about that no one else has seen before. Use these activities to build a library of knowledge assets. And, if you decide to publish this kind of unique content, you will get really smart and perceptive people to weigh in and help you to make it even better.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  intellectual property  knowledge assets  learning  product development  professional development  writing  your consulting practice 

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#223: Among Friends

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Updated: Wednesday, January 20, 2010
How do you respond to consulting colleagues who, with no prior relevant experience, take on contracts in your area of specialty and then come to you for help? Am I being competitive by not wanting to share my years of education and experience that give me an edge?

It is difficult to see someone with less experience serving a client for whom you presume you could provide better service. There are two responses, either of which might reduce the odds of this happening in the future.

First, determine how the client selected your colleague instead of you. What does your colleague provide, in the client's eyes, that you do not. It may be that you are not known to the client and your colleagues was the only presumably qualified consultant available. In this case, (sort of) shame on you for not having a better market presence, and it is something you can address. On the other hand, consultants usually think they are selling competence, when in fact clients are buying confidence. There are lots of consultants around with enough skills and experience, many with more than enough for the job at hand. It is possible that the client trusts your colleague even without the superior technical expertise you know you have.

Second, decide under what conditions you will help your colleague with your expertise. Treat them like any other client for whom you would devote time. Of course, you can provide 15 minutes of general advice as a friend, but at some point it becomes paid consulting. Just like you could ask a friend who is a doctor about what kind of flu is going around without feeling you are crossing the line, but you wouldn't want to ask them to do a complete physical outside of a in a professional setting.

Tip: Offer to work together for a fee - don't be embarrassed about asking, this is what you do for a living and you invested a lot in the acquisition of that knowledge.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  collaboration  consultant role  consulting colleagues  intellectual property  knowledge assets  teaming 

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#220: Do You Really Have a Consulting Model?

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Friday, January 15, 2010
I am always amazed by the diversity of approaches consultants use in their work. However, it does concern me when these approaches seem to vary over time, with almost each implementation seeming to be different. Is this normal for consultants?

I can't comment on whether this is normal or not but my sense is that it is not a good practice. Each intervention in the management, governance, operations or culture of an organization should be tailored to the current needs of the organization. However, the core process of intervention should be standardized, for three reasons. First, every change strategy should be a scientific experiment, a hypothesis-driven approach to reach an objective. If the process can be codified (allowing for necessary adaptation to local conditions and needs), it can be replicated and tested for efficacy.

Second, a codified and tested process can be continually improved. The common complaint about the book In Search of Excellence and other anthologies of "great companies” is that they are backward looking cases where the strategies were connected to outcomes without testing the specific strategy for efficacy. We have to be able to describe a process before we can predict its results, and only then can we develop the capability to control it.

Third, consistency and simplicity in a process increase your ability as a consultant to effectively communicate its value to clients and staff. If I understand the theoretical foundations, inherent values and effort required to implement a change process, I am more comfortable implementing it in my organization. Clients are right when they complain about consulting processes that are so theoretical and confusing that they are of little interest or perceived value. If you can't express the premise of your change model in 30 seconds, then you have no business using it.

Tip: Take any one of your intervention processes and commit it to paper, either through prose or (better) a process flow chart. Give it to a colleague for a client and see whether they understand it and could replicate it. Don’t worry about "giving away trade secrets." First of all, your process itself is probably not that unique. Second, like a good cook, your finished product owes a lot to your skills in implementation, regardless of who uses the same recipe.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  consulting process  intellectual property  knowledge assets  learning  performance improvement  planning  practice management 

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#203: Sending Out Your Own Tips

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Wednesday, December 23, 2009
You wrote about providing too much information to clients. What about providing them a regular tip like you do?

Obviously we think tips are useful to consultants. We have subscribers in more than 100 countries and sometimes get substantial inquiries as well as questions that start two-way conversations. The first challenge is to identify who your audience is, which is a function of what you want the tip to do for you. Support current clients? Publicize your expertise? Saturate a market or two with your name? Build up a body of content for a book? Satisfy your need to blog about your ideas? Be clear about what you want before you launch into writing. Daily Tips for Consultants is meant to support excellence and ethics in management consulting (our mission) and is targeted at all levels of experience, discipline and industry. This is why tips vary in their sophistication, directness and applicability for your tastes.

Write some tips to run by a few trusted colleagues for format, content, style and impact (tell them what you want the tips to do for you).Pick a frequency that works for you and your target. Daily tips can be a lot to both read and write, so try weekly or monthly. Consider labeling it with your name, e.g., Rita's Weekly Marketing Tips, or Jim's Daily Board Governance Tips.

Tip: Make sure you have included a mechanism for people to respond to you - at least an email if not a phone number (if you want a response). And remember to post links to your tips everywhere – your website, on a second business card, on your collateral and in your email signature line. Make it easy for people to subscribe and to unsubscribe.

© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  advice  brand  education  intellectual property  knowledge assets  sales  writing  your consulting practice 

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