This article will focus on how an individual may effectively market a new consulting practice. The development of creative and unique marketing strategies to be the lifeline of business for start-up consulting companies. Although the budding entrepreneur may be an expert in his or her field, the individual needs to make sure that others understand the benefit of doing business with the new consultant. Most consultants utilize the basic marketing plan that everyone else uses. However, in order to be successful, consultants must distinguish themselves from the pack.
Keywords Cold Call Pitching; Guerilla Marketing; Home Based Business; Marketing Plan; Marketing Strategy; Networking; Niche Marketing; Relationship Marketing
Marketing: Applications for Business Consulting in Marketing
Finer (2002) suggests that new businesses have a marketing budget of $10,000 in their first year of business. A typical first year budget would include budget items such as (Finer, 2002):
- Web hosting and maintenance and url
- Search engine positioning (expert)
- Newsletter — either e-distribution or print
- Logo design
- Business Cards
- Brochure design and layout and some writing
- Brochure printing for 200 pieces
- Networking expenses
Levinson and McLaughlin (n.d.) suggest a marketing formula for the budget once the business has been established. It is referred to as the 60/30/10 Marketing Formula. The approach advocates a balanced budget distributed among current clients (60%), prospective clients (30%) and the broader market (10%).
Current Clients. Although this is the smallest group, as a consulting practice is developed, there is an expectation that this group will generate the most profits. Therefore, a significant amount of time and money should be allocated toward cultivation efforts to secure revenue from this group.
Prospective Clients. Consultants should strive to convert this group into current clients. There is potential that some of the targeted clients will have a need for a consultant; therefore, consultants should spend at least 30% of their marketing efforts with securing business from this group.
The Broader Market. This is everyone else that does not fit into the first two categories.
New consultants may adjust the percentages until they have built their businesses up. The distribution will be different among consultants, and each business should customize an approach for his or her practice.
One of the best ways to get the "first" clients is to network. Most consultants find their first clients through networking activities, professional or personal. Relationship building is essential to the business consultant. It is an opportunity for the new consultant to showcase his or her capabilities, strengths, and uniqueness. It helps to distinguish the individual from other people that may offer the same service. Finer (2002) developed a list of tips that would assist consultants with being effective networkers.
Tips for Effective Networking
1. “Have a crisp elevator pitch” that includes why and how your business can add value. Have three or four bullet points “about your background that relate to why you will be successful in this endeavor” (Finer, 2002).
- 2. “Make sure you are having a conversation in which you are listening for ways you can help the other person and talking less than 50% of the time. Give the person your undivided attention” (Finer, 2002).
- 3. “Be proactively helpful — send an email with some info that the person may be interested in” (Finer, 2002).
- 4. “Go to events where people in your industry go and where your clients may go; volunteer to help the organization, write articles, speak on your area of expertise” (Finer, 2002).
Even with following the steps to starting a consulting business, the entrepreneur should focus on how to effectively market his or her craft. When potential clients are looking for a consultant, they want the best. Although it is important to get a consultant exposure, one must make sure that unique qualities of the business are highlighted in order to differentiate one consultant from other consultants in the field. Competition is great in the consulting field. Therefore, it is imperative that a new consultant develops a strategic marketing plan that emphasizes strengths and weaknesses.
Most consultants utilize the basic marketing plan that everyone else uses. However, in order to be successful, consultants must distinguish themselves from the pack. One way to accomplish this is to employ guerilla marketing techniques. According to Levinson (1984), the following principles are the foundation of guerilla marketing:
Levinson identifies the following principles as the foundation of guerilla marketing:
- Guerilla marketing is specifically designed for small businesses, especially consultants.
- Guerilla marketing should focus on human psychology versus experience, judgment and hunches.
- A consultant should consider his or her time, energy and ideas as the primary investment. Money is a secondary investment.
- Success should be defined in terms of profits, not revenue.
- A monthly goal should be the number of new relationships secured per month.
- Consultants should focus on developing the current client base and getting more business versus soliciting new customers by cold calls. Referrals are an important aspect of keeping existing clients.
- Consultants may want to build relationships with other consultants versus seeing them as competition.
- A combination of various marketing methods is the preferred approach when creating a marketing campaign.
- Staying abreast of technology is crucial in empowering the marketing campaign.
When meeting with potential clients, it is important to keep the sales pitch simple so that more time can be devoted to listening to the client explain his or her needs for the project. The sales pitch could be a one page plan consisting of seven sentences describing:
Sentence 1. : Purpose of the consultant's marketing efforts.
Sentence 2. : How the consultant plans to...
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