As per dictionary, consultants are subject matter experts in their field who give professional advice or services. If indeed they were, did they have to seek advice from other experts to start their consulting business?
A consulting business, though the name itself may sound perfect and tall, would always have to start from scratch just like any other businesses would. Apparently, a business plan which would basically include the marketing processes and tools would have to be designed in order to start the ball rolling. Take a look on the following helpful marketing tools that you may refer to to start your consulting business:
Let’s start off with identifying who and what type of customers would be for the business.
If you’re an IT consultant then your target customers would be IT firms and professionals but are non-experts. With such positioning, these target customers project a high percentage chance of having the need for your expertise. Though the process may require a rigid filtering effort like customer profiling and use of advanced technologies like lead nurturing and automation tools, this however will provide you a well- targeted and qualified database of customers who are the most qualified candidates who have the need of your expertise. So keep an ID of your customers with the following basic details:
- Demographical: business name, contact person, address, industry type, phone numbers, social media info, email, size and annual ROI.
- Psychological: Purchase behavior, timeframe and decision-making process.
What’s your edge over your competitors? The unique characteristic of your business will make your business stand out from the crowd. The standards would generically identify you as a consulting business but making a difference from the following aspects will identify you as a brand. Have a handful of the following references from Rattleback:
Process, Methodology & Tools
You may conjure in-house strategies and tools that were proven effective and deliver results but analyze your strengths and weaknesses as well as you might also need to outsource a third party provider’s expertise and look into other options to help you expand your market reach or to expedite the sales process. Schaffer Consulting’s WorkOut methodology can help.
Skills, Practices and Culture and Philosophy
Results should justify the goals – is a standard norm. But what you do between point A to point B matters and factors in the end result like hiring the right talents, training and empowering employees with knowledge and learning tools to maximize their skills and capabilities. Accenture has a lot to say about that.
Brand and Communication
The standard SOPs of a consulting firm will identify you as one but the way you present yourself and how you communicate with customers will mark a difference on you as a brand. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes may be an old customer service cliche but no doubt works effectively still.
Content has become one of the most effective media in disseminating service or brand information when done right and that’s thought Leadership. It’s a valuable tool to draw customers into the business however critical when editorial procedures are below standards. Topic approach, compelling ideas and timely manner of distribution are important factors to adhere to in order for thought leadership to work best. Check Bob Buday for that.
Strategies and project plans would probably be the most inconsistent aspects of the business as you would need to redefine these two along the way – and that’s normal but ensure back up strokes in cases where your current marketing strategy won’t deliver your target results. Take a look at the following simple sample scenarios and the corresponding backup:
- If you’re looking into running an in-house lead generation campaign but short on a good list of targets, you may rent or purchase a database. It’s not safe to dive when you’re not sure of the depth of the water. Don’t waste your marketing resources on a dirty business list.
- If you’ve been working out a content marketing but not generating quality leads, check on the topics you create: are these compelling enough to draw interest from customers or are just good for a 30 second browsing? If you’re not sure yet, this dummies guide for content marketing might help you as well.
- If you’re outsourcing an appointment setting campaign but could hardly get interested prospects who have the need for your expert advice, check your list – are the contacts profiled and targeted with need and interest, if not then you may have to run a profiling campaign.
Starting a consulting business is no different from all other start ups that would require a clear market identification, a proper business projection, a clear branding and communication, an effective thought leadership and a flexible strategic planning.
So going back to the question, do business consultants need to seek advice from other experts like marketing specialists at that matter to start their business? Well, this article wouldn’t have been created if they did.