If you are a consultant in need of a consultant marketing plan to run your company, here is a starting place. This plan will help you develop new client relationships and nurture existing ones with a simple to follow guide.
[Start Here] This article has a lot of sections, so here is a quick way to jump around. Everything you’ll need to market your consulting firm is here.
- Marketing Strategy For Consultants
- Websites for Consultants
- Email Marketing for Consultants
- Social Media Marketing For Consultants
- Advertising For Consultants
Marketing Strategy for Consultants
The first place we need to start is with the overall marketing strategy that consultants need to have with concern to their online marketing. Now many consultants will hem-and-haw about relationship marketing, and we do agree that consultants, by the nature of their work, have a high referral sales base when it comes to marketing.
But that only highlights how little consultants truly use online marketing well, and how much opportunity is out there for smart consultants to use online marketing.
The core of the marketing strategy for consultants is around four stages, awareness, convert, close, and delight.
Each of the phases have activities that speak to the point of that phase in detail.
The Awareness Phase
This is all about getting your name out there. We call this the awareness journey in the marketing growth guideposts. Many organizations are struggling in this space, in fact this is the most critical area of the entire funnel. Without good awareness, you’ll never have enough opportunities to leverage for growth in your company.
Awareness is about making your customer aware of your business. There are so many ways to make them aware of your business, yet we are going to stick to the ones that don’t involve a chicken suit and a street corner. These are tried and true methods of marketing online.
The Convert Phase
Once you have traffic to your website, the next phase is to convert that traffic into potential customers. This is the essence of the convert phase. Now the big question, how do you do that?
Most people think of websites of having one major call-to-action, or CTA, the “contact us” page. This is great for customers who are ready to do business right now, which would be maybe 1 out of every 10,000 visitors to your site.
So what do you do with the other 99,999 visitors? We try to engage them where they are, with content that might be appealing to them and helps solve a problem they might have. For example, if you are a personal coach, you might have a couple tips or guides that you could share for the exchange of an email address. They get a valuable PDF full of help, and now you have one more potential client in your contact list. Brilliant!
So they key to success in this is to create enough conversion points that allow for everyone to find a conversion so you can convert 2-5% of all visitors to your site with relative consistency. This is the key to lasting results in online marketing.
The Close Phase
Most of the closing phase happens on the phone and in the board room. Once a client reaches out to you for a proposal or conversation, digital marketing might not come into play, but don’t write it off yet.
You’ll still be doing a good bit of email marketing during the closing phase. This might be case studies, samples of your work, or information sheets. Shouldn’t you put as much effort into those emails as you would your outreach emails?
You are going to need a solid proposal template, a great powerpoint template, and the savvy to work a presentation in the close phase. But your emails and social media can also lend a hand when it comes to closing the deals.
The Delight Phase
Your marketing enters a different phase once a lead is now a client. You still have to present a solid marketing effort to your clients. In the consulting world, repeat business and referrals are key to your long term success. Happy clients will tell others, and might make the right connection for you in the future. Don’t forget that most clients will be repeat buyers, so keeping them up on your services and information will be key to lasting success.
You’ll use email marketing here in varying degrees. You might have a newsletter that keeps them up on your latest thinking, and you’ll use personal emails to connect with them periodically to build relationship.
Common Challenges With The Phases
There are a few common problems that come up with you have a sales and marketing methodology like this. First, and most common is putting a potential client in the wrong phase. You might have someone reach out to you after visiting your website really briefly asking for a proposal or quote. This could be good, but unless they have the necessary information they are not really qualified to be in the close phase yet. They are not really aware of your service and what makes your company unique.
Another problem is not putting the effort to each phase correctly. 80% of your effort needs to be in the awareness or “prospecting” phase of the funnel. The remaining 20%, 10% is spend on closing, with the rest split between nurture and delight.
[tweetthis]80% of your marketing effort should be on increasing the awareness of your company to your potential customer[/tweetthis]
Marketing Is A Marathon, Not A Sprint
A last word of encouragement before we move to the next section, that your marketing plan will be a marathon. There are small victories, but its an endurance game. Stick out to the end and create the right materials and do the right activities to keep your company growing.
Websites for Consultants
The most important aspect of your marketing will be your website. It’s your virtual leave behind, its your store front, its your presentation deck, and even more. The website is now the central piece of all your marketing and lead conversion, it needs to be fantastic.
Seek Simplicity and Focus
There is so much to write about website design and conversion optimization, we have articles on our site about those topics that you should read, but what is the most important thing to understand is your site is not about you. Its about your client finding the solution to their problem.
What does this look like? It looks like a website that talks to a potential customer, not about the stats and successes of your company. There is a time and place for that, but its not every page. Each page has a mission, so let’s talk about each page.
Your consultant services pages should focus on the services you provide. If we reflect on our phases, there are a couple things to consider for these pages.
The SEO focus for these pages should be SERVICE in LOCATION. Your local SEO, people finding you in your town will increase with this focus.
You should have a call to action to contact you for more information, but you also need an awareness phase take away, that might be something of a self-help, or tips guide for that service that your potential visitor can sign up for (read : give you an email address). You win, as you now have an new potential client email, and they get some help or value on the way.
Case Studies or Client Pages
You need to have “social proof” about your service. People need to know that it works, and has worked for others like them in the past. This can be done in a few different ways.
The most important way, is to have testimonials. This is important as your visitors will want to hear how its worked and what it will be like for them. You should collect 5-7 testimonials. That is all you’ll need for the time being.
[tweetthis]You should work to collect about 5-7 testimonials before launching your site.[/tweetthis]
Second, you’ll want to do a case study, or example of your work in real time. Walk through a problem-solution scenario, or discuss how your services were rendered to solve the problem. This should be done in good detail, as the client will spend time here trying to figure out if this will work for them.
Third, another way you can go about this is a client list. I don’t like this for two reasons. Once, you have to put a good bit of clients there to make it seem like you’re not small, and then two, you give your competitors your entire client list. Food for thought….
The Consultant Blog
Yes, you’ll need a blog and here is why. The blog is the best place to grow your site content around the details of your SEO strategy.
There will need to be blogs written for your website quite frequently, because Google loves site that produce content. Additionally, you’ll have a keyword strategy that you’ll want to cover. You see, blogging is not about your whims, its a strategic exercise in writing thought provoking content around keywords and topics that are of interest to different phases in the funnel.
You might get a chance to write about your cares, but most you’ll be writing topics that will help you get rankings and results for Google.
The Contact Us Page
Your contact us page is pretty basic. Include all the request-a-contact information and a contact form to help people submit after hours. You might even try some more current technologies like calendly, or Hubspot sales to help schedule meetings.
Keep it simple, but also set expectations on what they will get when they contact you. This might mean having a brief statement about what you’ll discuss and how long it might take.
The Conversion Forms
Throughout your site, you will have content for conversion. All those content pieces we talked about early on, will need a landing page. You’ll want to look to make those pages work better and better each month, as your conversion percentage can greatly increase the number of leads that you have.
Email Marketing for Consultants
Email marketing will be the work horse of your online marketing. Its used in most all phases of your marketing and it ranges from very personal, to blast emails targeted at groups of contacts. Here’s how it plays out.
The Types of Emails You’ll Send:
Thought Leadership Email
This is typically what we refer to as a “email newsletter“. Newsletters in the past have been much more about the company and news, but now the shift in the sales and marketing process turns the newsletter into a value presentation to the client. You’re sending valuable insight and content to the recipients to build value.
This is a series of emails that you will send after someone signs up for your content conversions. So if someone downloads an ebook, or signs up for a newsletter, you’ll send them this drip series of emails. This is an automated series that includes the following five emails by topic.
- Thank You – This is an email thanking the user for downloading your content and establishing good will.
- Problem/Solution – This is an email that explains a common problem and your solution to that problem.
- Objection – Overcome a common objection to your services and why your solution is best.
- Testimonial – An example of a successful execution of your service.
- Sales Letter – This is the ASK of the entire sequence, where you focus on the sales effort.
You should set these to be about a day or so between each one, nothing greater. You don’t want them to forget the brand and your solution for too long.
Direct email is really another way of saying personalized emails. Sending sales based emails should be a regular part of your sales and marketing process. These include the following types of emails.
- Check-ins – Seeing how the client is doing personally or professsionally
- Updates – Sending updates about your company that might impact the client
- Value-Add – Finding an article or piece of content that might be of value to your potential client or current client.
No matter how long a client works with you, they will need to be reminded of your services and what you do. Many times a client will pigeon-hole you into a specific offering that might not be your best offering or your most profitable. They might even have a problem in that area, and not know how to solve it.
Your service reminders are simply ways of letting them know what you do, who you’ve done it for, and what they can expect in the process. Its important to frame a reminder as a core service, rather than a “new” service you are offering. New services are open to scrutiny, where as core services are reliable. So make sure you don’t launch new services over email, rather do it on a case by case basis by those who can benefit, and once it’s vetted, you can roll it out as a reminder to all clients.
Lastly, the feedback email is important to know how well you’ve done for the client. This is a great source of testimonials, NPS scores, or any other feedback mechanisms you might need to shore up your service and make it a great service.
You can use a simple survey platform, like surveygizmo.com, and then send your emails out in your current email service provider.
Social Media Marketing For Consultants
Where does social media fit in to the consultants world? Its a necessary element to any online marketing presence, and should be considered for most all consultants. Here’s why.
Besides the fact that just about everyone is on social media of some sort, being on social media services two purposes for you as a consultant. First, it gives you increased credibility that you are “concurrent” with the world’s technology. This a shallow reason, but a good one. Second, it will allow you to promote your brand and demonstrate your expertise to an audience on a regular basis.
Facebook Marketing For Consultants
This one is tricky, but I’d say do it. You’ll be looking to keep it 90% professional, with 10% personal. If you plan on connecting with your family and friends here, then don’t do it. But if you can go professional with your page, then you’ve got a plan.
I’d focus on sharing good content and ideas to bring value to your potential friend. You are also going to want to do a business page, and have that in place for a lead generation when you do some Facebook ads later one.
Linkedin Marketing For Consultants
This is a requirement. Most of your B2B leads will be coming from Linkedin if you are planning to use social media for lead generation. You can successfully use Linkedin marketing to network and meet new people, you can also use it to bring value to your connections.
I’d recommend joining groups where you can add value to conversation and become the expert. Think of it as a small speaking engagement. Use the discussion to further extend your expertise and build value in the marketplace.
You can also use Linkedin to network. I’ve connected with many people over Linkedin, who later became clients or referral sources. The key is to bring the connection into real life. Sit for coffee, or pick up the phone for a call. A Linkedin connection does no good for you, as a Linkedin connection.
Twitter Marketing for Consultants
This is good as long as you match it to your needs. If you are not someone related to the hyper speed of consumer media, then I’d take a pass. But if you are a consultant who deals with the financial markets, or something similar, then be on it.
The key to Twitter is to be on it, frequently. That means posting something at least every other day, as a means to reach out to your audience. This could be a retweet, or original content. Images are also great, and twitter is big on video now, so you can post a few seconds of video on twitter with no problem. Keep your twitter marketing focused on adding value to your customer base.
Tactically, a few points. Connect with new people every week. Use hashtags as much as possible, and follow the trending bigger conversations.
Instagram Marketing for Consultants
Don’t do it.
Pinterest Marketing for Consultants
Advertising For Consultants
Advertising is now the last step in the journey. You’ve created all your sites, assets and having your messaging down. Now its time to attract clients through advertising.
You will receive a good bit of attention from your site, content and social media just by doing them. But there will come a point, when you will want to “turbo charge” your marketing efforts with online advertising.
Here are some of the options to consider:
Google advertising will be your best bet to create some traffic for your website. There are lots of details on how to create a good advertising. We’ve written some extensive posts on how to setup ads, and how to pick your Adwords budget. The important thing to know, is that Google is a good investment if its done right. There is a reason that this is a staple of online advertising.
The challenge is that you will not be the best person to set this up. This is definitely a task that is best suited for the experts, simply because they will get better results than you will alone. This goes for most advertising spending.
Its very likely that you have some customers and potential customers on Facebook. So its a good channel to try to locate and find your customers on this channel. Facebook Advertising has many nuances that need to be explored in your campaign to make it work really well, and again, hire someone to do it.
But you should setup your page as we recalled in the earlier section, and have your presence even if only to be current and posting information.
Buying Email Lists
A word of warning here, In 99.99% of cases, I’d advise not buying email lists. Here’s why.
- The quality is typically poor, meaning they have low open rates
- You don’t know how old the list is, so it could be irrelevant
- Its unsolicited, so you are in fact SPAMMING your potential customer.
In fact, the only reason I’d put it here is that if you have a very large budget, you could potentially use it as a branding campaign, with a content or top of funnel conversion piece. If you are hoping to get business out of it anytime soon, you’re barking up the wrong tree.
This is one of our favorite B2B online advertising options. The premise behind Google remarketing, is that you only show ads to those people who have visited your site. So you are targeting a very specific audience so you can give more targeted information and messaging in your ad.
Once a user visits your site, a cookie is set on their computer. When they visit a site that participates in the Google network, your ad shows. Its very effective and targeted, which helps in the display ad realm which is a “spray and pray” ad platform which we typically don’t recommend.
[END] I hope you enjoyed the whole article, and here is a quick menu to jump back around to your favorite sections.