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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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#545: Keep Your Referral Pipeline Full

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Friday, April 15, 2011
Updated: Friday, April 15, 2011
Competition among consultants makes new clients harder to come by these days and companies seem to take longer to hire consultants. How can I hear about opportunities as soon as possible?

Learning about potential engagements early means having someone "on the inside" looking out for you. If this isn't someone who actually works for a prospect's organization, it means having people who know the organization well - and know what you could do for them. We are talking about referrers.

First of all, let's talk about what referrers are and what they are not. They are not limited to people you approach at networking events and ask for referrals. These contacts rarely know you well enough to make effective referrals.

Instead, look for people who understand the role of a management consultant and would be able to describe both you and the value of the services you provide. We hear about how you should develop a broad list of potential referrers, such as your mail carrier, dentist, and college roommate. This may work for the best known and common professions but this approach is less effective for management consultants.

A complete referral strategy is more involved than this tip can explain but I suggest you identify a dozen people you are confident understand what you do and the value of your services. Next, provide them with a list of about a dozen target companies for which you would like provide your services and (this is important) for each company, include a short description of what service you might provide and what value each services would provide. A sentence or two for each company is about right.

Tip: The value of this exercise is two-fold, but only if you actually complete it. First, writing it down helps you focus on specific targets, services and value you might provide. Second, it puts you on record with an explicit list of referrers, with whom you should check in regularly. Once you have this list under control, meaning that people on your list are really looking out for you, consider making separate lists for different aspects of your practice.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client development  marketing  networks  proposals  referrals  sales 

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#540: Regularly Consider a Refresh of Your Branding Images

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Friday, April 8, 2011
Updated: Saturday, April 9, 2011
My company logo is looking a little old and tired (OK, I admit it, I created it myself many years ago). Logo companies can be somewhat expensive and sometimes only come up with a few variations on the same theme. Where should I look for more creative designs?

Let's assume you have thought through the much bigger issue of the currency and strength of your brand and conclude you only want a fresh logo design. One approach is to find a designer recommended by a colleague who knows your style and whose own design style you like. This is no guarantee you will have a satisfying experience but it is better than picking a design company based on their sample logos. In that case, and not to disparage all logo design companies, these logos may have been designed by individuals who are no longer with the company.

Competition is the key here. Some design companies, like Logoworks farm out your needs to several designers internally so you get a range of perspectives, from which you select and refine your design. Some of my colleagues have had a good experience with this approach.

Another clever idea is to have a truly open competition, like at 99 designs (there are other companies like this) where you create an online "contest" for your logo. You specify who you are, what kind of image you want, including preferred colors, shapes, backgrounds (only if you want), and how much of a "prize" you are offering for the design. Within a week, some of the 15,000 designers connected to the service will create a range of logos from which you can select. You can also see what designs you find appealing by using the search feature, and then refining your "contest" request. Most of these contests are in the few hundred dollar range.

Tip: This approach can also be used for business cards, websites, stationery, etc. Once you find a designer whose style matches your interests, you can pursue other projects with them.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  brand  brand management  marketing  publicity 

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#534: Your Online Identity is More than Just Social Media

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Thursday, March 31, 2011
Updated: Thursday, March 31, 2011
I hear about managing my company's "O-dentity" (online identity) is more than just my website and social media profiles. What else should I be doing?

From just having a pretty and functional static website 15 years ago to engaging in selected discussion forums and maintaining several social media profiles and a targeted blog today, what constitutes your online image has evolved. It will likely continue to do so. Here are a few ideas about what to attend to in maintaining a powerful o-dentity:
  • One individual is best to oversee and integrate all aspect of your online presence. Although each blog, website, forum, interactive forum, etc. can be maintained by separate individuals, it is best if one person understands and sets the strategy for the collection of these mechanisms.
  • Technology now makes it possible to engage your customers and the interested public. Figure out a way to move beyond a static website to an interactive one, whether it is soliciting inquiries or hosting a set of targeted discussion forums. If you are looking for clients or partners, talk to them, not just at them.
  • Respond to inquiries, comments and complaints on your website with the same level of interest you would from a phone call. Check your incoming web inquiries as frequently as you check for phone messages, not whenever you get around to it. Many people would rather interact this way instead of by phone.
  • Offer a continuously expanding (or at least enhanced) suite of services or avenues for interaction. Everything has a lifespan and it is likely that after a few months of discussion on a topic, it is time to offer something new. Don't be known as the site that used to be interesting but is now lame.
Tip: Your o-dentity needs to be a core part of your communication, marketing and sales strategies. It is easy to just design and implement and forget that your public values fresh and innovative as much as it does content itself.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  blogs  communication  marketing  publicity  social media  technology  website 

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#531: Think About Networking in Terms of "Net Positive"

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Monday, March 28, 2011
Updated: Monday, March 28, 2011
I occasionally get tired of having to go to networking events for my consulting firm. It is part of our overall marketing effort for senior consultants but is it effective for every consultant to participate?

Depending on your type of consulting practice, networking by every consultant in your firm may be more or less effective, but this depends on what you expect from it. If you believe that networking is a "have to" type of activity instead of an "opportunity to" activity, you are likely to be disappointed by your time spent doing so. I have two thoughts.

First, the strongest elements in a network are deep relationships. Take the time to find the right people to make part of your network, considering that half of the people you meet may not be right for your, or their, networking needs. Let "slow and steady" be your guide. The more times you connect with a person, the deeper your relationship.

Second, every individual benefits from a personal network, regardless of how "connected" your firm is. If your senior partners build powerful networks, that's great, but you still need to develop your own. Your personality, consulting approach and emerging needs extend beyond those of your firm.

Tip: Approach networking as an opportunity to help others, not rack up a collection of business cards. Your value as a networking partner is invisible until you make the offer to provide it to others.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  consulting colleagues  goodwill  marketing  networks  trust  your consulting practice 

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#524: A Consulting Practice Benefits From a Website

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Thursday, March 17, 2011
Updated: Thursday, March 17, 2011
I have all the executive coaching and consulting business I need and never had a website. Do I need one now?

Website aficionados might start a response to your inquiry with, "In today's competitive e-world, having a website is almost a requirement for doing business. Having a presence on the web can provide you with a lot of benefits in marketing your business, etc." However, there is a more nuanced reason to have a website than just your electronic billboard. Consider a few outcomes of having a website:
  • It increases your visibility beyond your current market. You might enjoy new types of clients and consulting environments by making it possible for them to find you.
  • It levels the "firm size" questions by removing the assumption that you are small-time by not having a website.
  • It provides a consistent message about the nature and scope of your services, removing the inquiries of those for whom your services are inappropriate.
  • It is a mechanism to create an interaction with your clients and community(ies). Your website is more than just about selling your services - it is an effective way to engage your communities and enhance your perspective, or even your capabilities.
  • It can be an efficient way for clients to contract for your services (if your services can be ordered a la carte).
  • It provides an around the clock way for your clients and prospects to see what you are doing and weigh in with their own suggestions for possible work or new services they'd like to see. It can keep you top of mind if done right.
Tip: Given the widespread popularity of using online searches to learn about businesses, having some type of web presence is almost a necessity for today's consultant. Although establishing a website for your business is a relatively easy and not cost prohibitive, care must be taken to properly represent your business in an interesting, informative and professional manner. Having a site that is poorly organized, unclear, error-filled or difficult to navigate might actually negatively impact your ability to obtain and effectively serve your clients.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  brand  communication  market research  marketing  prospect  publicity  sales 

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