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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 

#625: When it Comes to Ethics, Life Imitates Art (and Vice Versa)

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Friday, August 5, 2011
Updated: Friday, August 5, 2011
Even with the recent high profile news about management consultants ending up on the wrong side of ethics practices, it seems like the consulting profession is pretty ethical. What do clients think?

This is an interesting supposition that can't be verified or disputed conclusively. A client, when presented with a consultant of theirs that violates ethics laws or practices, is reluctant to go public with it because it taints their selection and management of that consultant. When they engage an exceptionally ethical consultant, this behavior also tends to be closely held.

The lack of fully revealed evidence makes it hard to conclude a general characteristic of the profession other than by anecdotal evidence. However, in my role as IMC USA Ethics Chair, I do get a lot of complaints about unethical consultant behavior. Unfortunately, only those consultants committed to the profession by their membership in IMC USA or being a Certified Management Consultant are subject to independent ethics adjudication. Other consultants must rely on investigation by their own firms (ironically a conflict of interest) in response to ethics complaints.

Tip: Oscar Wilde said that "Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life." As it relates to management consulting, he was a century ahead of his time. On January 8, 2012, the Showtime television network debuts its new series "House of Lies," based on a less than flattering book about the seamy side of the management consulting profession. It will be interesting to see the reaction of the public (and of business) to this series.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  ethics  goodwill  professional association  professionalism  publicity  reputation 

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#563: Get the Recognition You Deserve By Speaking at Conferences

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, May 11, 2011
I know a lot about my industry but am not known as an "expert." In fact, I suspect I know a lot more than most people who are considered the experts. What can I do to increase my exposure and image?

First, there is a big difference between being an expert and being recognized by others as an expert. Many "innovative" business processes attributed to management practitioners are variations on processes that were already developed and widely used in another forum. Good marketing may not always substitute for innovation and expertise, but you will eventually need to create ideas, information and processes in a new way to be recognized as more than just a practitioner.

Second, given that you have something new and valuable to offer, how do you get for yourself the maximum exposure in your industry? One suggestion is to get the implicit endorsement of your industry trade association by speaking about the state of your industry at annual or regional conferences. Associations are always looking for speakers and if you approach them well before the conference solicitation for speakers is issued, you will have an opportunity to frame a topic to your particular expertise.

Identify several trade or professional associations related to your area of expertise. There are several disciplines that could be directly or indirectly related, just as there are primary and secondary industry associations or business groups. With this list (there may be 10-20 on the list), prepare a white paper on trends in your area of expertise/discipline/industry and identify how these will affect each group on your list.

Tip: Find out when each organization has upcoming conferences and contact them to offer your services as speaker. Manage this so you leverage speaking at one conference with others, indicating that you are scheduled to speak to associations A and B, and you think members of trade group C would benefit from the same information. At the same time, offer to author an article (also desired by associations) related to your white paper or to conduct a member survey. If you are allowed to do these, you can add the data and feedback from the association's members to your portfolio of "expert" content.

Based on this investment in your own education as well as visibility, you will create credibility not only to the association but also to its members. You increasingly become and are seen as an expert.

P.S.Contact associations well before they issue a call for speakers so you can make sure your focus is included in the list of aceptable topics.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  market research  marketing  presentations  publicity  reputation  your consulting practice 

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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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#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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