Thinking about hanging out your shingle, or have you recently started your own consulting business? Even if you provide better service at a lower price than your competitors, that doesn’t mean you’ll succeed. Much of a consultant’s work includes marketing him or herself.
Since it can be a struggle to get clients once you launch a consulting business, here are some simple steps to start generating some connections, which, soon enough, can lead to clients. Now go forth and make it happen!
Get Dressed Up
When it comes to marketing a new business, how you say it is often as important as what you say. That means you’ll need to look like you’re a professional consultant with a real company, not just someone working out of his or her spare bedroom when you can find work.
Do the following:
- Incorporate. Having an “LLC” after your business name tells potential customers that you’re serious enough to have incorporated your business. This can also help you safeguard your personal assets (like your home) in the event of a lawsuit. There are also tax benefits to incorporating that can save you thousands each year.
- Create A Website. If you don’t have a website for your consulting business, clients might be suspicious. Your website should have an about page, client case studies, educational blog posts and contact information.
- Establish Social Media Channels. Create a LinkedIn profile for your company, a Facebook business page, a Twitter account and a YouTube channel if you can get some videos made. Not only will these make you look professional, they can generate client leads if you publish and post valuable information. Register your business with Google so that you pop up when people search for your specialty in a specific town or region.
- Get Business Cards. Don’t look like a small-timer when a potential client or other business contact asks you for your card. There’s no excuse for a professional consultant not to spend $25 to have business cards made at a quick copy shop. They even deliver them to your door!
- Create A Print Brochure. This is an optional expense, but it’s one that makes you look even more professional, and allows you to put a powerful message on a medium that can’t be clicked away after a few seconds. In fact, serious potential clients will probably spend more time reading your brochure than they will on your website.
- Get A P.O. Box. Don’t advertise your business as being located at 123 Sunnybrook Court. If you list your business with Google using your home address, Google will put a photo of your house with the listing. Get a Post Office box to legitimize your consulting business.
Create Referral Partnerships
Your potential clients often have needs related to your specialty that you don’t offer. For example, someone who needs a wedding planner also needs a caterer, photographer, DJ, florist and cake maker. Someone who needs a systems administrator often needs a web designer and content creator.
Find other consultants or service providers who align with what you do and tell them that you’ll promote them if they promote you. Offer to link your website and social media channels to theirs if they do the same. Give them your brochure and cards to pass out and take theirs. Building relationships and networking are important, and these are all great ways to do so. You can even consider offering a cash referral bonus for any clients they send you.
Generate Testimonials For Your Consulting Business
No one wants to be your guinea pig. If you’re just starting out, offer to do free consulting business for several companies in exchange for testimonials. Get permission to use them in case studies; keeping private information private. Nonprofits and friends who have small businesses are a good place to start.
Offer Lunch And Learns
Offer free or low-cost educational lunch and learns to businesses in your area. Work with a local restaurant that has a private room and wants to generate some buzz and get new people in the door. Many restaurants will provide a room and nice lunches at $10 a plate or less. You can charge just enough to cover your lunch and advertising costs, or charge more to create a higher perceived value.
If you’re a marketing consultant, consider offering a lunch talk on social media for small businesses. If you’re a CPA, offer a talk on tax strategies for small businesses. If you’re a sales expert, offer, “Top 10 Sales Mistakes Small Businesses Make.”
Put Your Network To Work
No one is going to be more willing to help you than friends, family and close business contacts. Let them know about your new consulting business, and make sure you carefully manage and contact each individually to make your request for help more personal. By telling your contacts what type of consulting business you’re offering, they can better understand how to invest back in you for services or recommend you.
As an added bonus, you may want to include a referral bonus. If your contacts are affluent and won’t be interested in an extra $100 or so, tell them you will be making a $100 donation to a local charity for each referral you get, which is good PR for you and your company, too.
Lead image via Getty