Marketing Your Consulting Business
Too many independent consultants don’t promote their business because they don’t think they have the time or believe that their work should speak for itself. Whatever the reason, forgoing marketing and advertising as a part of your larger business plan is like leaving opportunities, and ultimately money, on the table. Promoting your business is worth the time commitment, and if you have the budget, it’s worth the investment. Here are a few tactics to consider:
Get Smart About Social Media. Before you set up social media channels, think about where your audience exists online. Are you in the photography or film production industries? Professionals in visual fields such as these tend to flock to Instagram. Are you a change management consultant? The executives that you’re looking to connect with are likely spending the most time on LinkedIn. Invest your time wisely by picking two or three networks that are most relevant, rather than casting a wide net.
If you have room in your budget, advertising on social media can give your brand some extra visibility. All social platforms allow advertisers to target based on location, so you can narrow your audience, if needed. LinkedIn even has the capability to target ads based on job title and company.
Offer (Just A Little) Free Advice. One of the best ways to reach new audiences is to demonstrate your expertise by contributing an article to a business publication. Some of the big media names in business media, like Inc. and Entrepreneur, accept contributions on an ongoing basis. Look into trade publications if you’re trying to reach a niche audience.
Speak Up. When looking for networking opportunities, think outside of the industry events you already know of - big conferences that showcase innovation across industries (like SXSW and Fast Company’s Innovation Festival) give you the chance to learn something new, while networking with a diverse array of prospects. Networking can be daunting, so make sure that you have your elevator pitch practiced for quick conversations.
Go Old School. Don’t discount traditional advertising methods. Print ads are low-cost and easy to make, and they can be displayed at your local coffee shop, gym or wherever potential clients might be. If you’re a freelance graphic designer, this is a good way to show your creative chops.
Stay True to Your Brand No Matter What. Your business persona is your brand. To stand out among your competition, the way you represent yourself should be unique. Establish a visual identity and a voice, and make sure it’s consistent across all communication channels, including your website copy, social media posts and any blogs or bylines published in print or online.
Aim High, But Be Realistic. Whether you are ramping up your marketing efforts or just getting started, setting realistic goals is key to achieving your desired KPIs. There are so many facets of marketing, but as a busy professional, you’ll need to be selective with the time and money you invest. For example, you might set a goal of attending two conferences a year or writing one piece of contributed content a quarter if your goal is to begin building brand awareness.
Smart, strategic marketing that aligns with your brand and has a clear objective will qualify new leads that if cultivated, will result in new business. When new clients sign on, you’ll be glad you made the time.