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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 

#13: Using Social Media in Your Consulting Practice

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Wednesday, March 25, 2009
I am not a Gen Y consultant but am curious about how I might use social media for my practice. Is having Facebook and LinkedIn pages enough?

Visits to social media sites like Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn increased by almost 800 percent between 2006 and 2007, with more than 50 million people reading blogs in 2005. Although started with the young adult market in mind, social media has been increasingly favored by older and more professional users. Corporate blogs are increasing and being used for both internal as well as marketing and customer relations. Vlogs (video logs) are increasingly popular (when your webcam is easier to use than your keyboard).

IMC's new website has built in blogs for the website community, chapters and communities of practice and for individuals. As we start to populate these blogs, it will create a growing community of management and consulting expertise. Sites like iBlogBusiness lets you browse through several thousand business blogs. Several organizations rate and list their picks of good business and management blogs.

Tip: Remember in high school when you were graded on class participation as well as your knowledge? In a social media environment, it is the same idea. Find the blog or social media sites your customer is most likely to use and get engaged. Post questions. Contribute your research data or reference links. Start a discussion thread. Establish yourself as a regular commentator on a topic related to your area of expertise. Just like being a recognized printed book author, being the person who is always up front in a business or management discussion can provide the same credibility and education.

© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  communication  marketing  trends 

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#12: Using a Message Wheel to Get Your Point Across

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Tuesday, March 24, 2009
I am a believer in laying out the logical argument of why and exactly how my services will make the client's condition better. This sometimes works and sometimes seems to miss the mark. Am I missing something?

IMC has a lot of experienced marketing and communication experts who could answer this in more detail but there are a few points every consultant should know about messaging. A classic is the "message wheel" developed by Richard Vaughn, one version of which is called the FCB Grid. It was one of the first characterizations of separating how communication effectiveness varies with the audience. In this model, people are influenced by thinking and feeling, and by how involved you are personally. It is important to understand how your client sees the buying decision before you craft your marketing approach and sales pitch.

For example, in the high involvement case, the decision is critical, with a lot to lose if the decision is wrong. This is different from the low involvement decision, where the decision is not as important, can be made quickly, and there is little downside if the client picks the wrong consultant. Thinking and feeling are self explanatory, but you can see the impact on your pitch. A client who a year ago might have been in the feeling, low involvement cell would have easily made a decision with little thought, or consequences, of a bad decision. Under more duress, he or she may now be squarely in the thinking, high involvement cell, where engagement and perceived risks are high. It is a different buying environment.

Tip: This is one of many models proposed to explain how advertising, communication and messaging work, each of which has its adherents. Do a little research and pick one or more to define what is most likely motivating your prospects to purchase your services and tailor your pitch accordingly.

© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  communication  marketing 

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#9: Turning Your Marketing Message Upside Down

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Wednesday, March 18, 2009
What are some ways to reach clients when they are so focused on a defensive posture? I know we'll all come out of this eventually, but my positive message of opportunity is not getting through.

Maybe you just need to stop fighting against how your prospects are feeling. They feel what they feel and it's not up to us to tell them they are wrong. We can present facts about our services, our expertise, our satisfied clients and our potential to do great things for them. However, we would do well to recast our message in terms to which they are now tuned.

This is not a trivial exercise. It is not a global search and replace on a word processor to replace "build your market" with "defend your current customers." Consider the now famous film ad for Argentine Presidential candidate Lopez Murphy in which two very different messages are found when reading the same series of phrases forward and backward. Be creative in how you recast the bad news in the market into good news related to your services.

Tip: Instead of starting with your brochure and your elevator speech, start with what is on managers' minds. Look at consumer and business confidence reports, business magazine, Conference Board or trade association press releases. What do they say is the typical executive's greatest concerns? Use those as talking points and describe how, with your help, you can address the very things they fear most. Turn the message upside down.

© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  innovation  marketing  proposals  prospect  sales 

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#8: Is Your Consulting Brand Outdated?

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Do I need to realign my consulting practice for the times? I have a strong reputation for top line growth but it seems all people want these days is cost cutting.

A brand is a promise of what you can and will deliver for clients. It takes time and resources to establish a brand and once, established, more time and resources (and performance) to maintain. There will always be reasons, regardless of the size, pedigree or focus area of your practice, to chase after a sizable revenue opportunity. Especially when the economy slows, a call from a past client or prospect asking you to advise them in an area outside your brand is tempting. But the offer is not as attractive as it may seem.

You can compete on specific criteria, usually quality, cost, speed or variety, but not all. If you are known for quality or cost, but not variety, once you start to take on engagements outside your area of specialization, you weaken your brand. Now you are known as someone who will do just about anything (even if you do it well) and start to become a commodity. There are plenty of companies who are still looking for top line growth and, sooner rather than later, there will be a lot more.

Tip: Redouble your efforts to locate growing companies and position yourself for an economic recovery. Respond to offers to do work outside your reputed areas of expertise with the comment, "I appreciate your confidence in my abilities but you are asking for services outside my area of specialization and I think you would be better served by someone who specializes in this area." Even better if you can recommend a few firms who can provide these services. Your brand remains intact and is now even stronger in the eyes of the person who requested services outside your specialty.

© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  brand  goodwill  marketing  reputation  sales 

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#6: Think of Your Website as a Watering Hole

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Monday, March 16, 2009
Websites take a lot of time to maintain. For a consulting practice, how important is that my site be more than just describe my services?

What constitutes an effective website has evolved over time. A decade ago, a website that was, as you described, an electronic brochure, was good enough. A set of static pages with your experience, qualifications, approach to consulting and a list of clients might do the trick. As both technology and website user sophistication increased, the standard for what a good consultant's site looked like also increased. People have come to expect knowledge generators like consultants to provide a fresh set of content. Maybe you aren't expected to provide a steady stream of content like large consulting firms, but your services are expected to evolve along with business and management.

Take some of the biggest news stories or trends in your industry. How would a prospective client know that you are on top of these issues? What new services have you developed that are different from those of your competitors? What content are you providing, for free, that is client-oriented? What mechanisms are you creating that continuously engage clients? Would clients in your industry consider your site one of many substitutable information sources or would they think of it as the equivalent of a "watering hole" to which they would regularly return, expecting useful content relevant to their emerging needs?

Tip: Talk to your current clients about what they need as managers to stay ahead of their competition. Managers generally appreciate content in any of three areas, (1) tips on how to improve some process aspect of their operations, (2) trends in the industry, and (3) your opinion or insights about organizations like theirs. The first is what your consulting service is about, and is best provided as a custom service, although case studies of your prior projects are a great way to get the message across that you can solve their problems. The second and third examples are best provided by a regular blog or newsletter expressing your unique insights into the industry. Whatever you do, keep your site fresh to keep up with the industry.

© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  knowledge assets  marketing  prospect  website 

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