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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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#96: Let Major Events at Your Prospect's Organization Guide Your Marketing

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Monday, July 20, 2009
Keeping my pipeline full requires a large amount of time devoted to watching my industries and disciplines and for those trends for which I can create new consulting services. Are there any tricks to make this go faster?

Let's back up a second and talk about your basic premise for marketing and selling consulting services. What you are describing is the longer term component of marketing, the one related to positioning your capabilities for evolution of the market. This is not the most effective, or efficient, way to secure new engagements in the near term. Organizations are looking for professional service providers to address their current problems and opportunities. Your approach will certainly help them think of you for an issue that comes up in the future but less so for today's crises. Consider focusing on the crisis just announced this morning, even better one that has yet to break in the news, as your entry point into an organization.

For example, the US Department of Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) announced today that it is awarding $55 million in grants for construction of new scientific facilities at universities in Houston, Auburn, Wilmington and Miami. If you are a facilities management, design or project management consultant, here is an announcement that should trigger your search for active players in these decisions to whom you can offer your valued services. These points in a manager's life are highly emotional, either by fear or desire, in which your services are most likely to resonate. Using these events as your marketing focus is more effective than what may or may not come in the future.

Tip: Select your target industries or companies and subscribe to news notification services that suit your needs and price range. You may use Google Alerts, Factiva, and LEXIS-NEXIS, and dozens of other services. Once you have mastered how to use these high level sources, begin to use sources that go deeper into emerging news such as industry newsletters and business sources that conduct interviews with executive and business unit managers.

© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client development  market research  marketing  planning  proposals  sales 

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#85: Using Short Videos to Build Your Business

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Friday, July 3, 2009
Updated: Friday, July 3, 2009
Brochures are limited in content and doing an in-person seminars about our small consulting firm would reach a limited audience. We have been considering doing a series of videos about our main areas of practice. Do you think these would be effective?

Because consulting is an intangible product, richer communication mechanisms are necessary to more effectively convey a lot of information and create trust. Lower cost technology has made videos easy to produce and is becoming a preferred way of presenting your qualifications as a firm and showcasing your methodology. Consider the presentation you would make to a prospect, write a script and prepare a slide deck or in-person video. Create 5-10 minute videos for each of 3-5 areas of your practice. Just like creating a brochure helps you refine your content, these short videos will provide the discipline to hone both your content as well as your delivery.

Tip: Look at video production packages like Camtasia. This technology will allow you to record PowerPoint presentations with audio narration, transition effects, and zoom and pan. These can be saved as MPEG video, converted to flash or saved for playing on an iPod. These latter make an interesting possibility for instructional videos you can provide your clients or as giveaways to show how you provide services. The vendor also has a free version (called Jing) with limited capabilities.

© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  communication  innovation  marketing  presentations  proposals  technology 

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#81: Use AIDA for Greater Influence in Marketing

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Monday, June 29, 2009
Once I get in front of a prospect, I can make my case pretty well, but how do I make myself stand out in the approach and introduction?

The traditional copywriter's approach of "AIDA" works quite nicely for consultants. If you look at a well written advertising letter, defined as one you read all the way through, you will see how this works. AIDA stands for:
  1. Attention: Provide something that assures that they see you as different from all the other demands on their time. This is the purpose of a great headline in an article and a hint of your value proposition. One example is starting a sentence with "Do you ever . . .?" aimed at a problem you know from your research your prospect faces.
  2. Interest: What is it that will pique the prospect's interest enough to decide to commit a few more minutes really looking at your offer? Is it research data, or maybe the fact that you have just completed a similar project for a competitor? Here is where most consultants lose a prospect by not transitioning from the intellectual to the emotional basis of wanting to see more. Another interest-generating tactic is to stop talking long enough to engage them in the conversation about the issue. Establish your credibility.
  3. Desire: This is where a prospect begins to see him or herself as receiving and benefiting from the results of your services. You job here is to help the prospect imagine themselves in a world where they have already accomplished what you are proposing. Let them know that their competitors are using this kind of approach, or that there is a limited opportunity (if true) to capture the benefit you are offering.
  4. Action: Another place where consultants lose a prospect by not closing the sale. Even if you can help a prospect see him or herself in a desired future state, sometimes other constraints block them from pulling the trigger on an engagement. Now is the time to help them overcome inertia and see themselves taking action to get started. This is where you use statements like, "We can get started with the focus group next Thursday" or "I could review your speech to the District managers and add in our latest research."
Tip: This works as well in your proposal letters of agreement. Even after you have reached agreement on the scope and terms of an engagement, exerting some more influence is always helpful. This agreement is often the only documentation a client retains from the discussion and having a cogent sequence of AIDA to start the letter will remind your new client why they engaged you.

© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client development  marketing  proposals  prospect  sales 

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#74: Being Ready for a Conversation About Your Services With Any Prospect

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Thursday, June 18, 2009
I don't have a brochure or hardcopy sales collateral (those are "so 1990") but instead rely on my website for prospects to get a full description of my services. Is this sufficient, especially since my services vary so much, depending on the client?

Just because a sales or marketing strategy is old does not mean it is not effective. Recognizing that a website can provide more dynamic and extensive descriptions than your sales package, consider the purpose of such hardcopy collateral. It serves more than just a source of information, which your website is probably most capable of providing. Having

To a prospect, your brochure or flyer is something tangible (a piece of paper) to represent an intangible service (management consulting). Having a one page (and only one side, at that) focuses attention on a few key benefits or features of your services. You can elaborate, as appropriate, in your discussion but the prospect needs to be clear about what it is you are providing. If you can't get this reduced to a few core principles and benefits, you may not really understand your business value as much as you think. The exercise of "writing a brochure" is not so much in the having as in the creating. Dwight Eisenhower said that “plans are useless but planning is indispensible.”

Tip: At all times, have a one page description of your services. If needed, you can have more than one, but each needs to be complete in itself. Be prepared to use this as a talking guide to review your core services and how these services would be adapted to each client's needs. Your sales presentation will be more refined as a result, with each discussion following a familiar path. After each discussion, adapt and improve your one-pager as needed.

© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client development  marketing  planning  proposals  prospect  sales 

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#49: Conserve Your Sales Resources

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Thursday, May 14, 2009
Updated: Thursday, May 14, 2009
How can I stretch my marketing and sales activities and budget?

In most cases, referrals are more powerful routes to to clients than prospecting. A referral carries with it an implicit endorsement from the referrer and gives you an advantage over someone who reaches out to a client without a referral. Given, that, your best strategy is to focus on the mechanisms to cultivate and maintain referral sources. There are a few ways to do this.

First, understand who is likely to be a referral source. Small businesses are busy and may not have time to help you out. New businesses to a market won’t have built their referral networks. Conversely, trade associations or chambers of commerce have broad contact with their industry or profession. Vendors, if you are not competing with them, can be great referral sources.

Second, understand what you need to do to get referrals. We sometimes assume that a referral source is eager to help us based just on our reputation. Although this might be true in some cases, you are better off making sure there is something in a referral to both the referrer and the target. Making a referal requires trust that you are both good and ethical over the long run. This means cultivating referral sources with repeated and consistent good service. Do good work and make sure you let your referral sources know about it.

Tip: Set as a target to get 50-75% of your new clients from referrals. Start with a list of your target clients and work backward to find types of and specific referral sources. Make this a formal, written plan to identify those referral sources for whom you have already or can demonstrate that making a referral will not put them at risk. Finally, develop the tactics that will assure that the referrer benefits from making that referral.

© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client development  market research  marketing  proposals  referrals 

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