For many business owners, the desire to get more clients translates to how best to market themselves. However, getting new clients is much harder than continuing to serve existing clients. This article considers how to attract more business from existing clients while simultaneously reaching new clients. The former is a question of service delivery while the latter is a question of marketing.
The Question of Service Delivery in Your Consulting Business
In continuing to serve existing clients, you want to ensure that you keep adding more value to existing services. Like beauty, value is in the eye of the beholder: Your customer.
You can find new ways of serving existing clients by surveying them to find out what they like and appreciate as well as what they currently find dissatisfying, frustrating or annoying. Based on your customers’ answers, you will know how best to tweak your offering so as to incorporate more of what they like and appreciate as well as less of what they find dissatisfying, frustrating or annoying.
You may also tweak your offerings based on what you have found your customers to like, value and appreciate over the years. In some instances, it is a simple matter of changing some minor detail that is inconsequential to yourself, but highly meaningful to your clients. In other instances, it is a matter of providing additional and more comprehensive offerings that dovetail with existing services. In so doing, you become a one-stop shop.
Finally, you may be able to reach your existing customers more effectively by offering your existing services across a range of platforms. Thus, if you provide face-to-face, one-on-one consultations, you may consider extending your offerings into a public speaking or training (face-to-face or online) environment. Similarly, you might also consider extending your offerings into the printed word (such as subscription-based newsletters, special reports, downloadable e-books or printed books). If you are already providing training or public speaking, you could extend your offerings further by providing CDs and DVDs of your work.
The Question of Marketing for Your Business
There are many ways to market your consulting business. The method you choose may reflect your personal taste. It may also reflect your availability, as well as the degree of comfort you have with the range of marketing methods available to you. Whatever methods you use, you will want to ensure that they dovetail well with one another.
1. Websites: Your website should reside at the core of your marketing initiatives. Ideally, any other marketing initiatives you engage in should direct people to specific pages on your website. The specific webpage that potential customers are directed to will depend on where they found out about you (and hence, the offerings they will be most interested in). You will want your website to be easy to navigate, professional and consistent with your business brand.
2. Newsletters: Newsletters can be a revenue stream if you make them available via subscription or membership schemes. They are also a valuable marketing tool. So much so, that there are many businesses who specialise in the provision of newsletter proformas and/or content in return for a fee. However, newsletters are most effective when they are developed based on your own expertise and use a unique style that is consistent with your business brand. You will want to produce your newsletters on a regular basis, be it on a weekly, monthly or quarterly basis. As a marketing tool, you could make previous issues freely available on your website. You can also hand out previous issues to your current and prospective clients where applicable to their needs and interests.
3. Social Media: The range of marketing options under social media is quite extensive these days, including: Facebook, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, Tumblr and YouTube. Social media is most effective as a marketing tool when you select the one or two platforms you most enjoy using and regularly post on them. You will want to use your social media platforms as mediums by which you point followers to specific pages within your website.
4. Networking: Networking is one of the simplest forms of marketing. It is also the most useful if you are able to join several networks where your prospective clients may be found. Networking is most effective when you begin by asking prospective clients about themselves. In so doing, they feel valued and will likely reciprocate by asking you about yourself. Be sure to bring plenty of your business cards so that you will always be able to provide one of your cards upon request. You will also find it invaluable to provide prospective clients with tips as well as introduce them to the right people. Kind deeds are always favourably remembered. If you are able to obtain your prospects’ contact details, you can place them on your mailing list to receive complimentary copies of your newsletters.
5. Articles: Articles are a great way of showcasing who you are and what you can do for potential customers. You will want to provide valuable information on a range of topics your current customers are most interested in. You will also want to place your articles in a range of different platforms and do so on a regular basis. Some might appear on your social media channels. Others might appear on your website. Others still, may be submitted to other websites or magazines that your potential clients frequent. For those articles that are placed outside of your website, you will want to include links back to specific pages of your website.
6. Public Speaking and Authoring: Authoring and public speaking reflect two additional ways of showcasing your talents. In some instances, they may act as separate revenue streams. Once again, you will want to speak and write to topics that reflect your area of expertise; areas in which you would like to attract new business. It is then a matter of offering to speak to these topics in networking groups, professional meetings, conferences and workshops. If space permits, you can also host presentations on your own premises. If you have authored any books, be sure to highlight their presence as part of your presentation. Once again, you may also draw attention to the presence of your website. You may also want to invite back-of-room sales after the speaking event.