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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 

#365: Consultants Can Effectively Use Social Media

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Friday, August 6, 2010
With one-fourth of people's online time using social media, I wonder whether this makes any sense for consultants.

Social media, started as a person to person venture, has steadily morphed into a business to business enterprise. If the purpose is to be social and share information about yourself, then this seems an excellent way to both market your services as well as deliver them. Consider at a minimum the search capabilities of LinkedIn, the community building power of Twitter, the impact of many shared bookmarking sites, or the growing ability to create communities of interest. All of these work well for consulting firms and we should all have a social media policy as part of our overall business plan.

Although nothing replaces the personal referral, current and prospective clients find value in a professional presence and a more or less continuous contribution to the body of knowledge through discussion forums or posting of content in your area of specialty. This content must, however, be in the media locations related to the client's interests, not just those populate by other consultants. There are a lot of the latter and, while participation in discipline or consulting forums can be valuable for your professional development, leveraging social media for market research and to sell your services requires client-centered areas. If you can't find any, consider starting your own.

Tip: For a good perspective on how your consulting firm can use social media, see Consulting Firms Using Social Media to Market Their Ideas in the August 2010 issue of Consulting Times.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  market research  marketing  networks  social media  trends 

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#351: Be First in Something to Stand Out as a Consultant

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Monday, July 19, 2010
Updated: Monday, July 19, 2010
I'd like to increase my visibility as a consultant. I do great work. I just don't seem to get as many leads as I would like, and don't convert many of them to clients. What would you advise?

Although strongly endorsed and disputed as a good strategy for diversified corporations, Jack Welch's desire to "be number one or two or get out of the business" has an element of merit for consultants. While you don't actually have to be first or second among consultants globally, you can corner the perceived top rank in some intersection of discipline, industry, geography and mode of presence (i.e., how you interact with the public or prospects).

What would you do if you wanted to be the "Number One" consultant in your field in both perception and reality? What would you do? What do other "top of the heap" consultants do? Make a list then pick those areas you could pull off. Here's a starter:
  1. Speak at more events.
  2. Write more articles.
  3. Plug the holes in your own repertoire of skills and experience by building up one or two to be your premier offerings.
  4. Network more intensively but selectively at industry events and wherever your prospects are likely to be.
  5. Communicate through P.R., letters, e-mails, your Web site, personal notes, phone calls but make them notable and valuable to the recipient, not just a throw-away greeting or thank you.
  6. Volunteer to serve on one or tow committees where your prospects are likely to be and where you can build both skills and reputation.
  7. Write a book, special report, study or anything that is valuable to your audience and will get the attention you need (and offer it for free as a contribution to the profession or industry).
  8. Think "making deposits before taking withdrawals." It isn't automatic for most of us to give altruistically. Make a list of all the ways you can contribute.
  9. Get listed, do interviews, get your name out there.
  10. Be unique. Specialize. Have a "hook" by which you are uniquely identified. One highly regarded collection of approaches to make your offerings really stand out is POP!: Stand Out in Any Crowd
Tip: This is a starter list but add to it depending on your industry, discipline or command of media. Of course it is hard, but the point is for you to stand out from the crowd and that means focusing on one area and putting in a lot of effort.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  brand  brand management  client development  market research  marketing  product development  proposals  reputation  sales 

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#345: How Much Do Consultants Need to Compete?

Posted By Mark Haas CMC, FIMC, Friday, July 9, 2010
There are thousands of consultants and business advisors against whom I compete, each with a different focus and competitive advantage. How am I supposed to compete against them all?

This is a great question that reminds me of the joke of "How fast do you need to run to escape from a bear?" The answer: "Just a little bit faster than your friend." You don't have to be the best in all markets, capabilities, technologies, etc. to be effective. You just need to be better (i.e., more valuable to a prospective client) than the alternative. Look at any athlete, actor, surgeon, chef or painter. They are judged - by the person evaluating or receiving the service - as having the right skills, applied in the right way, at the right time. A universal evaluation standard does not exist.

Rethink your strategy. Instead of starting with your abilities and figuring out how to enhance them to beat others, look at a prospect and figure out how to provide greater value than they are currently receiving. The recipients of your service are totally disinterested in your skills except to the extent that their condition is better in the future than it is now.

Tip: Compete against the service received by your prospective clients instead of service providers like yourself. Focus on the nexus of service between you and the client and not on either one by themselves.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client development  consulting colleagues  customer understanding  marketing  prospect  sales  your consulting practice 

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#341: Writing Articles for Magazines

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Monday, July 5, 2010
Updated: Tuesday, July 6, 2010
Whenever I write an article for a popular print magazine in my profession, I get very good feedback from the magazine's editors but don't appear to generate any additional consulting business. How might I more effectively maximize my article's impact?

Since you asked about print magazines, we'll leave off the (probably more productive) area of ezines, blogs, discussion groups, online article distribution, etc. Here are some things to help to generate readership and maximize the potential for the generation of contacts as a result:
  1. Be sure to have the magazine include your e-mail address in your byline or description (you may need to fight for this one, and some publications may not want to allow it).
  2. Make sure that you label yourself as a consultant (or advisor or whatever is appropriate for your prospects) in the author info.
  3. Write articles that reference the fact that you perform consulting work for clients in addition to demonstrating your technical/professional expertise. For example, "In my consulting engagements, I have noticed a general discomfort on the part of my clients when discussing the subject of reorganizations." A subtle mention is all that is required; don't be brazen about it.
  4. Try to include stimulating ideas in your article that promote additional questions on the subject. It is likely that readers will come to you to get answers.
  5. If appropriate and additional material is, in fact, available, add a line such as, "For readers who would like a complete copy of this referenced study please contact Mary at xyz@abc.com"
  6. If there is an accompanying photo, see if you can provide a caption, such as "Mary Jones, OD Consultant".
  7. Write articles for other magazines read by your prospects. Leverage the fact that "Mary, a noted consultant specializing in OD, has articles featured in such noted publications as A, B, and C". This requires some research to see what the publication influence pecking order is.
  8. Acquire a supply of "reprints" (authorized copies of your articles obtained from the publisher) and leverage them in your marketing material or as handouts in presentations. You might even use them in a special mailing to prospects and clients, if appropriate. Think print on demand to minimize waste.
  9. And finally, alert your existing clients to the upcoming article via e-mail and perhaps again when the issue "hits the street".
Tip: Even for print (yes, ther are a lot of people who prefer it to online periodicals) there are many creative ways to leverage your writing to generate inquiries. Take a closer look at some established contributors to your field's periodicals and see how they approach generating further interest.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  communication  intellectual property  marketing  reputation  sales 

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#332: Using a Mind Map to Prepare Your Elevator Speech

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Updated: Tuesday, June 22, 2010
For all the discussion about having a perfect elevator speech, I consider them worthless. Each person you talk to has a different perspective and warrants a customized view of your services. Why have a stock speech?

Let's consider what the "elevator speech" is intended to do. It is a way to focus on the vital few elements of your value proposition so that you can quickly express them. It does not mean that this is the only content you can or should have to describe who you are or what you can do. It certainly does not mean that you expect the conversation to end once the elevator speech is over. In fact, you want the conversation to expand, and this is where people who only prepare a single elevator speech lose out.

Are you ready for the (hopefully) inevitable question from a prospect? Are you prepared to address any aspect of your speech? One way to prepare is to create a mindmap of your elevator speech. For each element (e.g., geography, discipline, industry, client type, pricing, consulting philosophy, past clients, expected outcomes, contract terms, work style, proposed services) map out how you might react to a range of the prospect's follow up questions. The map can get quite big, and you will likely uncover areas you didn't expect. Now you are ready to give the elevator speech, recognizing that it is only the opening act.

Tip: Show the mindmap to your colleagues or current clients. Does it resonate with them? Do they recognize you and your firm's services? How would they follow up if you were giving them the elevator speech? What did you discover?

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  communication  marketing  prospect  sales  your consulting practice 

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