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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 

#286: Creating Tips for Your Clients

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Monday, April 19, 2010
Updated: Monday, April 19, 2010
These daily tips are really valuable. They keep me thinking about how to improve my consulting skills and grow my business. Should I do something similar for my prospects and clients?

We get asked this question more than you might think. Tips are written to stimulate your creativity, keep you in a zone of continual improvement, and help you remember those good practices you used to use but just let lapse. Why wouldn't your clients get the same kinds of benefits?

Writing tips does take some time and it helps to have a plan of what to write and how to communicate them. Because IMC USA membership covers almost every technical discipline and industry, the tips are not about any one professional perspective. They are for anyone to use, and most apply just as well to professions other than management consulting.

First, be clear about your objectives. Ours is consistent with our mission to promote excellence and ethics in management consulting. Yours might be to educate clients about a specific aspect of their operations. Or it might be to hint at your particular capabilities. However, if these focus on you rather than the reader, they become obvious commercials.

Second, select a format that engages your reader. We selected the "call and response" format because it clarifies the tip's purpose and often reflects questions we get about consulting. Tips need to be short and to the point. If you have a mechanism for feedback, pay attention to reader response to refine your tips. Make sure you conform to CAN-SPAM rules about opt-in and opt-out (assuming your tips are by email). Finally, pick a time frame that works (daily, weekly or other) that meets your need and reader preferences.

Tip: If thought out well, this can be a powerful support for your brand. Over time, your readers will be looking forward to receiving your tips and begin to ask for your advice.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client service  communication  intellectual property  knowledge assets  marketing  reputation  writing 

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#284: Marketing Through Trade Associations

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Thursday, April 15, 2010
Updated: Thursday, April 15, 2010
The industry I consult to is growing so fast that I'll never be able to market to all of them. How can I get more leverage than by contacting each one individually?

Trade and industry associations exist to serve their members. In associations where the members are companies, the association often collects information on member capabilities, activities, and investment or customer service plans. They often publish a newsletter or studies of industry activity, key issues or trends and major opportunities or constraints facing the industry.

If you consult to an industry, you should be in close contact with the trade association (sometimes there are several for various aspects of an industry). Use collected information on the industry or, better yet, do your own research or write articles for the association publications. Speak at their annual conference, join as an affiliate member, and participate in forums or study groups.

Being front and center in an industry as an active participant in an association demonstrates to others that you are a professional. Imagine how much more credible as a trusted advisor you are when industry mavens see your name in industry association publications and know you are committed to their industry. Make sure they know you are a member or are otherwise affiliated with the association.

Tip: The effect is similar when you talk to your clients and let them know that you are a member of a professional consulting organization and not "just doing a little consulting" while looking for another job in the industry. Certainly, being able to show that you are a member of IMC, which sets the standards and competency framework for professional consulting in the US, enforces ethics and certifies consultants to global standards, will increase your credibility.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  marketing  professionalism  publicity  reputation  sales 

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#282: Do Clients Insist on Your Brand?

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Updated: Tuesday, April 13, 2010
My services (process improvement) are similar to those provided by dozens of other consultants. I don't even know how many competitors I have, but there must be a lot because I am not getting as many engagements as I should. How do I increase my win rate?

It's not clear how to respond to your statement of how much you "should" be winning. However, there is one thing you can do to make sure you win engagements from clients who pick from a basket of similar consultants or decide solely on price.

What if you could create in your prospective customer's minds an insistence for your brand, not merely brand awareness. We are all aware of a lot of brands such as sports teams, soft drinks, and automobiles. However, we are somewhat indifferent between them if we had to make a decision under duress and would find any one of the items in these categories acceptable for entertainment, thirst quenching or transportation.

You say you don't know who your competition is, but you do know that there is a reason why your clients selected you over your competitors. Ask each of your clients what it was that they saw in you that made you the most attractive choice.

Tip: Perhaps more important, ask them what would cause them to select someone in the future, and how your services, reputation, pricing, ethics, etc. align with those criteria. This is the kind of solid market research you need to solidify your brand so that prospects will insist on it.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  brand  brand management  client relations  competition  customer understanding  market research  marketing  reputation 

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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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