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!
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:
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.
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 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.”
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
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