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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 

#418: Leverage Your Professional Association Capabilities

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Updated: Wednesday, October 20, 2010
How do I find out more about these marketing organizations that promise to find projects for independent consultants?

Without mentioning names, there are a dozen or more high profile companies (some are organized as nonprofits) that, for a fee, will provide consultants with a list of "qualified" prospective clients. They market the availability of consulting services, often made up of a list of those consultants who have paid for an annual or other type of subscription. These companies vigorously market their access to consulting expertise to clients and serve as project brokers to subscribing consultants.

There are two issues with these companies. First, how does it make sense for someone unfamiliar with either the client or consultant to serve as a broker? Doesn't it make more sense for consultants and clients to deal directly with each other? Second, there are a lot of ethical issues with these brokerage companies. Claims to clients and consultants by many of these companies often go unfulfilled, as some IMC members who had thought it might be a good idea to try these services. One of our members recently brought to our attention one such company that had even selectively plagiarized the IMC USA Code of Ethics and passed it off as its own. Wow!

Tip: Be aware of the danger in these kind of companies. Take advantage of your professional association to check if the organization is legitimate and follows ethical practices. Ask your colleagues and in IMC chapters to see what your consulting friends experience has been.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client development  ethics  networks  proposals  sales  your consulting practice 

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#391: Do a Little Work to Get Your Name in Lights

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Monday, September 13, 2010
Updated: Monday, September 20, 2010
Although my firm does good work, our services range across a number of markets, making it hard to effectively advertise. Does advertising make sense for a firm like mine? Where would I get the biggest return on advertising?

A century ago, department store owner John Wanamaker said, "Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half."

Selecting the right message, method and market for advertising is difficult even for companies with discrete, tangible products. It's no wonder that selling intangible, evolving products and services like consulting are even more difficult. You know to highlight benefits rather than features, to target the qualified buyers, and to make sure you are identified along with the product. However, there are probably five common elements missing in many consultant ads:
  • Appeal to emotion. Consultants seem to think clients are only buying competence. They are not. Having already vetted you, clients assume you are competent and are buying confidence (their own) that you can be trusted to deliver the service effectively and on time. Make sure trust is an element of your ad.
  • Tell a story. People identify more with a story than with a list of attributes or even a list of features. Take the reader along for a ride to share the experience of your services.
  • Make it easy to buy. Many ads tell about a product or service but don't end with a call to action. Let the potential buyer know what you'd like them to do next (e.g., call you, email for a free report, go to a website, attend a seminar).
  • Keep it simple. Consultants can deal in complex ideas and processes - an ad is not the place to explain all this detail. Write the story so a tenth grader can quickly grasp the concepts. And really run it by a tenth grader to confirm that it can be quickly grasped.
  • Track your results. Because it is so hard to do, many advertisers simply don't bother to evaluate the effectiveness of their efforts. You should know, before you place an ad, how many impressions it will produce and an estimate of sales. If an ad isn't producing as expected, it's time to try something else.
Tip: Advertising your consulting services may not make sense but, if you do, make sure you design it as thoughtfully and manage the process as carefully as one of you engagements.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  brand management  innovation  market research  networks  reputation  sales 

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#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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#316: Leveraging Your Network

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Monday, May 31, 2010
Updated: Monday, May 31, 2010
In what ways other than serving as a source of referrals can my network(s) benefit me?

Here are nine key ways the members of your network can help you:
  1. As a pool of potential advisory board members for a new venture
  2. As candidates for group of "proof-readers" or providers of cover testimonials for the book you've written
  3. As a focus group for a study or survey you want to conduct
  4. To find investors for raising funds for a new venture
  5. By introducing you to new people in their network (like LinkedIn but more active and personal)
  6. As a source for referrals for new business (assumes you provide them specific written guidance on exactly what you are looking for)
  7. By providing a sounding board for a new concept or a challenging problem
  8. As a source for references and testimonials
  9. By providing friendship as you move through your career (and life in general)
Tip: Cultivating and maintaining your network is an important task and time well spent. Regardless of how altruistic you believe your network is toward you, it's essential that to receive assistance and support from a well-maintained network, you are obligated to reciprocate and always "give back" to your colleagues. As the saying goes about relationships, "you must make deposits before you can expect to make withdrawals."

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  advice  collaboration  consulting colleagues  goodwill  networks 

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#267: Will Anyone Remember You After Your Speech?

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Updated: Tuesday, March 23, 2010
I don't speak much but I have a few opportunities coming up. How can I make sure attendees remember both my topic and me?

First, make sure they hear and see something memorable. This means a solid and timely topic to present. Nothing is less memorable than a talk that is loosely organized, that they have heard before, or that is hard to follow. Even if it is a topic you know well, update it with references to current or emerging aspects of your audience's industry, professional discipline or region. Set a standard of at least one-quarter of the content should be outside the "conventional wisdom."

Second, do something different from every other presentation and speech your audience sees. This could be a contest or a series of questions to the audience about the topic. You will engage them as well as gather some market research about audience awareness or attitudes about the topic. They will remember because they were engaged and learned something about how others saw the topic. Make it challenging.

Third, make it easy for the audience to connect with you after the event. They may remember you the day of the event, but you asked how to make them remember you weeks or years after the event. The usual strategies apply: hand out your business cards, make sure your contact info is on your slides, put a handout on every seat before your talk, and collect business cards from all attendees.

Tip: You want to know who is most interested in your expertise under the assumption that they are future clients or partners. Offer something through your website related to your talk, preferably an update or subscription to your speaking topic. This will let you know who is really interested in you and your expertise and provide an ongoing way to engage them in a conversation about the topic. This does not have to be a formal newsletter; it could even be a monthly email from you on trends in your topic. Don't make it harder than need be, and start to use information from your correspondence with your community.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  networks  publicity  reputation  speaking 

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