Rainmaking in A Thunderstorm
Thursday, May 5, 2011
By Alan Weiss, PhD
I tell people
who I mentor that they are now in the marketing business. I don’t call it the
"rainmaking business.” The reason is that, while you always have to market
yourself, you don’t always have to make your own rain.
because there are people around you making rain, and sometimes a beast of a downpour
is created. All you have to do is ensure that you walk into it.
Not Enough Sense to Walk Out Into the
My wife and I
were chatting over cocktails with the owner of one of our usual restaurant
haunts (we dine out seven nights a week and all the owners and chefs generally
make an effort to stop by). I mentioned the fact that a very popular, upscale
Providence restaurant was opening a second location in our suburban town.
worried about them,” said the owner, "we think it will be a different appeal
from our usual crowd.”
I said, "You ought to be thankful to them!”
opens markets. There’s a reason that Burger King builds outlets across the
street from MacDonald’s: They know for certain that people are showing up there
to buy hamburgers. Walk down Van Ness Street in San Francisco (or similar
avenues in hundreds of towns) and you’ll find nearly wall-to-wall auto dealers,
many selling almost identical vehicles. On Main Street (its actual name—welcome
to New England and Norman Rockwell) in our town of 17,000, there are four
bridal boutiques, three liquor stores, four florists, and, depending on the day
of the week, anywhere from six to eight hair and manicure salons.
competition fosters the use of consultants. You have to walk into the
maelstrom, into the teeming torrent, into the cats and dogs.
words, as opposed to the classic maxim, you have to have the sense to walk out
into the rain.
Dancing in Others’ Showers
So, how do
you inundate yourself in someone else’s thunderstorm? Without being a
plagiarist, without being overly derivative, here’s how you can march into the
deluge (après le deluge, c’est moi et vous) and market successfully:
articles and columns to wide-read media channels. If your market is banking,
and the merits of consulting are being debated in American Banker Magazine,
weigh in. (I have columns in three different consulting online sources,
including the one you’re reading.)
2. Take bold
positions pro or con what’s happening in your areas of expertise. If you’re a
coach, what do you think about 360° evaluations (overdone in my view), coaching
"university” credentials (unnecessary), or testing instruments (most available
for public purchase are invalid)? Are
you taking a stand on issues?
3. Are you
creating or modifying your intellectual capital to embrace legitimate trends,
such as telecommuting, global outsourcing, shared jobs, and board activism?
Evolve and migrate what you already do well toward areas that others are
illuminating as important for the future of performance.
4. Be seen. I
attend the National Speakers Association annual convention every year no matter
what the agenda may be because some of the best speakers in the world see each
other only once a year and only at this event, and I need to be communing with
those colleagues. If your specialty is engineering, or architecture, or
organization development, you need to be seen (and, preferably, heard) at the
major events in the industry or profession.
your web site and physical press kit (yes, you need the latter, as well). Make
the "thundering” issues of the time visible and integrated into your public
materials and commentary. (I’ve never thought blogs were effective marketing
vehicles for consultants without strong brands—ironically, they are very
effective for those already possessing strong brands—but if you have a blog and
it’s not addressing the major issues of the day in your specialty, then it’s
even worse than most.)
Rising Tides, etc., etc….
never be jealous of others’ honest success in consulting. We shouldn’t bemoan
the fact that a terrific consulting opportunity went to someone else. We
shouldn’t envy larger firms, with more resources and more capacity.
We should be
thankful for any and every device which provides for more emphasis,
credibility, and appeal for consulting. Rising tides life all boats. This is
not a closed market, where we have to steal someone else’s market share to
succeed. It’s more like a Yogi Berra dynamic: "No one goes there anymore, it’s
If you want
the crops to grow, you’ll need rain. But you don’t care about who created it.
Moreover, our crops we carry with us, and it’s simple to find rain and immerse
afraid to get drenched. It’s the water of life.
Alan Weiss, Ph.D., is a contributing
editor to IMC's Connector and has
been cited by the New York Post as "one of the most highly respected
independent consultants in the country.” He has written 25 books which appear
in 7 languages, and he conducts a global mentoring program. You can reach him
via his web site: http://www.summitconsulting.com. © Alan Weiss 2011 All rights