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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 

#465: Social Media Can be Anything You Can Create

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Friday, December 24, 2010
Updated: Friday, December 24, 2010
I am not a technological Luddite but I can't see how all this social media is useful for business. Beyond "having" a presence (website, LinkedIn and Facebook profiles, Ning site, blog(s), Twitter, and syndication), it seems a colossal commitment of time that could be used to create product or deliver services.

Is social media useful for your own practice or your client's business? As any consultant can tell you, "it depends." Despite Pew Research findings that only 27% of US Internet users bother to read blogs, even back in 2008 we were still adding new blogs at a rate of 40,000 a day. Venture capital firms invested $60 million that year for startup blogging companies. Apparently blogging has enough value to attract capital. Finally, Twitter is berated by many as a waste of time, but Dell attributes more than $6.5 million of revenue last year from their Twitter presence (and that was more or less unintentional).

What is often missing in the "What Good is Social Media?" discussion is how it is being used. These technologies don't exist as add-ons - they are genuinely creating new ways to communicate in speed, content, interactivity, and functionality. But "being in social media" is of no value unless you are using it to further your current business goals. For example, a LinkedIn profile only has value as a reference point for your participation in (or starting and moderating) LinkedIn Groups. Setting up your own Ning social network is only as valuable as the community you create and maintain.

Tip: A great example of how digital media could transform our interaction is to look at a YouTube video of the "Digital Nativity" (easier if you know the Christian references to the story, but you can get the point even without them). There is "old school" ways of doing things and "really, really new school" ways. The market demands more than just good consulting services. It (legitimately or not) sees your engagement with the social and business community as evidence of your value and the transparency it affords as a measure of trust. Social media, done well, is one way to create that presence and trust.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client relations  collaboration  communication  marketing  social media  technology  trust  website 

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#460: Taste the Grass Before Moving to Greener Pastures

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Friday, December 17, 2010
Updated: Monday, December 20, 2010
With the skills and experience I have, there are probably several other industries I could target for my consulting practice. What's a relatively easy way to scope out these industries?

There are the usual suspects: team with another consultant, go to seminars, attend industry trade shows or conferences, etc. These are one-shot opportunities and have some value. However, they do not provide insight into the full range of culture, operations, and trends of an industry.

Consider immersing yourself in several candidate industries by reading journals of that industry or technical specialization. At this point, you are thinking, "I barely have time to read my Daily Tips, much less subscribe to a bunch of journals."

I am not suggesting you devote a lot of time to each industry. However, consider this a marketing investment - there are more difficult and expensive ways to familiarize yourself with an industry than reading about key players, technology, finance, vendors, trends, customers, best practices and opportunities for improvements.

Tip: Subscribe - for free - to several industry journals at freebizmag.com. You can receive weekly or monthly journals in IT, education, supply chain, healthcare, strategy, procurement and others. The selection of available magazines depends on your stated profile (industry, position) so describe yourself carefully. Make sure what you thought would be a good business move is right for you.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  market research  marketing  your consulting practice 

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#452: Explaining What a Management Consultant Does

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Updated: Tuesday, December 7, 2010
I have what I consider a clear "elevator speech" or "value proposition." What I am not so confident of is my ability to express in the next 2-3 minutes what I can do for a client. What I do is pretty complex and depends on the client's need but I seem to fumble the explanation.

This is not unique. In the absence of specific details on the client situation, needs, capacity for change, resources, and history, it often requires some restraint for a consultant not to reply "it depends" in response to an inquiry of "what can you do for me?"

Where we get tied up is in balancing a clear general response with our wealth of knowledge and experience in similar situations. This is not the time to tell everything you know, especially since, until you know more about the situation, your experience may or may not be relevant, or the information premature.

Explain to a high school senior what service you provide to managers and businesses. Ask them to explain back to you what you do, and be open to clarifying questions. A blank look from them or a flurry of clarifying questions will tell you a lot about your success in explaining yourself. Once you can explain your service in a way that doesn't require specialized knowledge, you will have the basis for a 2- 3 minute introduction to your services.

Tip: Removing all the jargon, historical examples, and arcane references to the best practices literature on consulting will give you a clear, understandable and concise pitch that connects on an emotional, not intellectual, level. And remember, it is not what you do that is interesting, but what the client becomes as a result of what you do, that is of greatest interest.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client relations  communication  marketing  proposals  prospect 

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#441: Try This Simple Marketing Exercise

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Monday, November 22, 2010
Updated: Monday, November 22, 2010
Try the following exercise. On a piece of paper, list the most compelling reasons a prospect should hire you as a consultant over all other competitors.

If your list contains things like experience, education and training, or an inventory of the services you provide you've probably missed the most powerful answer you can give - what you can do for the prospective client in terms of performance results. Of course, these results will be based on the things you can do well, your experience, your education or training, and your previous accomplishments. These support the primary reason a prospect will hire you - the confidence they have in your ability to deliver the results you have described.

Tip: You will help establish and implement a process that is projected to reduce defects by x%, or you will help design a training program that will increase overall engineer test performance by a minimum of 15% over last year's cumulative results. Examples like these are the true reasons consultants are hired to achieve the client's desired results. Always support your projected results with a clear and confident description of how you intend to achieve them. This is where your proven skills, experience, education, and training come in - to build the client's confidence in your ability to execute your planned approach to achieve the results expected.

Remember - first focus on identifying the prospect's desired results, and then figure out what specifically you will do help them achieve these results. Finally, build your prospect's confidence in your ability to achieve the results by pointing out your previous experiences, skills, education and training, etc. in which you delivered those specific results.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client development  marketing  proposals  prospect  sales 

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#429: Get Paid to Generate Your Own Leads

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Thursday, November 4, 2010
Updated: Thursday, November 4, 2010
I wrote a series of white papers that I offer through my website. My intent was to have people who read these papers be sufficiently impressed or intrigued that they retain my services. People are certainly downloading, but no one is buying. What's wrong?

Your strategy is good in principle. Combining a bit of research with a summary of your expertise and ideas about trends or key issues in an industry is a good idea. Clients appreciate the perspective and data, and logic would suggest that if they find the content interesting, they'd want to learn more. However, people buy on emotion rather than logic. Here's a slight variation on your strategy that may make it more effective.

Tip: What if you charged a few dollars for your work? I don't mean charging $100, $50, or even $30. Think about $5 for a 10-page white paper. This taps into the psychology of buying where people perceive greater value for the "second cheapest" and "second most expensive" products. To many, free means limited value and many who download your white papers may never consider them valuable enough to open and read them.

Charging $5 for a report looks like a loss leader (especially if you compare it to a much more expensive research report or trend report you offer on your site). The money is minimal but the emotional commitment to your research or opinion is much higher than it would be if it were free. Your leads are much more qualified, your products are more likely to be read, and you make a few dollars to offset some costs.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  intellectual property  market research  marketing  product development  prospect  sales 

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