A Consultant --- Is an independent professional, retained by an organization, and sells results by the hour or day Brings his / her own knowledge and a substantial set of files to meet the client’s requirements Is his / her own boss Has no routine work hours at the client’s firm Is not one of the group, and is not a contractor Often works on relatively short projects
The Consultant as a Subject Matter Expert The Consultant fills a specific technical niche, which is sometimes quite narrow The Consultant is in demand because of in-depth knowledge of a topic in which a Client needs help People skills and organizational boundaries are not usually important to solving the Client’s problem Single projects are common, and might result in a long-term support effort Results are often difficult to predict in advance
The Consultant as a Process Expert The Consultant understands most aspects of entire processes, which may be quite broad The Consultant is in demand because of knowledge of how organizations function People skills and organizational boundaries are usually important to solving the Client’s problem Client process problems usually require a continuing effort and are often cyclical in nature
Consulting – Positive Aspects Great autonomy in selecting and conducting jobs Great variety in work Business can be set up and conducted with little investment Potential for high income Great job satisfaction.
Consulting – Negative Aspects Little involvement with client firm’s staff No support system Irregular cash flow Regular retraining may be necessary Work level may cause problems at home
The Successful Consultant Has --- A strong drive to maximize his / her income A clear belief in his / her unique ability to solve Clients’ problems better than anyone else An exceptional interest in becoming and remaining an acknowledged expert in his / her chosen field Strong self confidence that no matter what type of Client problem is encountered, it can be solved
The Successful Consultant Also --- Has inherently strong skills at reading peoples’ moods, and is unusually good at understanding motivations and agendas Communicates well over a range of organizational levels Understands and practices self-promotion continuously to keep the contracts coming Deals well with change and rejection, and is pragmatic
Time Commitment for Marketing You should spend almost full time marketing your services until you receive your first contract. You can never stop marketing. There must be almost continuous marketing throughout your career as a consultant, regardless of workload. After your first contract is received, your marketing effort can decline to those hours not spent on your first project. Regardless of project workload, you must always do marketing – never less than 5-10% of your hours, or about 2 - 4 hours per week.
Focusing The Marketing Effort First, ask yourself three key questions: How will prospective Clients learn about my services? What Consultant qualities should I emphasize? What will be my most effective marketing methods? Your Present Assets If you were just laid off, call your former boss. He / She has an immediate problem, knows you, and may plan to hire a temporary worker. You know the work. Immediately start networking with all of your business contacts. DO NOT WAIT for an engraved invitation.
Which Marketing Activities Work Best? Emphasize personal contact networking with selected colleagues who may need specialist help in their work. Focus on national associations in the technical area where you want to sell your services - their member firm lists will be valuable. Join special focus groups who will market your services to select types of clients. Develop regular communication schedules, using telephone and email, with key people.
Other Effective Marketing Activities Focus on your past technical accomplishments, regardless of where they were achieved. Clients want to know if you have solved their kinds of problems before. Your experience is key. Consider using a newsletter which highlights your accomplishments and successes. Your mailing list will become your networking list. Avoid expensive printed brochures, flyers, ads, and direct mail. Potential clients don’t select consultants by reading promotional material.
Marketing Via The Internet Consider using a web page. Templates are available to get you up and running quickly. Monthly costs are reasonable. Provide your email address and phone numbers. Focus on presenting your qualifications. If you discuss examples where you have solved problems, try to be as generic as possible. Be careful not to reveal proprietary information from former clients.
Marketing Via The Internet (Cont’d) Provide information on your web site which clearly demonstrates your experience and credentials. Help your prospective clients to visualize clearly how you can be of assistance to them. Consider interactive options to tell your story better, and in a way more meaningful to clients. Update your web site frequently, to keep prospective clients returning to see what’s new.
Contact Thread (Network) Marketing Identify one or more individuals who helped you get contracts in the past Make up a contact data base for those individuals, including telephone numbers, email addresses, web sites, and physical addresses Keep in regular contact with those individuals Tell them about new contracts you have gotten, technical successes you have had, etc. Some contact threads will persist throughout your entire career
Contract Follow-On Marketing The most effective point to start selling the Client on a follow-on project is when the project shows the first signs of success, often at the 90-percent completion point. Selling the Client on a follow-on project is easiest when the Client knows about project successes, and the Consultant’s role in achieving them. The greatest chances of success with a follow-on project come when there is a strong professional bond between the Client and the Consultant.
Professional Association Marketing Accept all opportunities to appear in professional, noncommercial, settings. This may be as an unpaid speaker at professional meetings, where you can become more visible. Demonstrate during your appearances that you are a leading edge expert in your field. At professional meetings, conduct regular and continuing networking in a style which is comfortable to you.
Specialty Focus Group Marketing Some groups are formed to offer specific services to specific groups of clients Some groups may serve only a limited geographic area, such as YourEncore, a mid-West group. Expert Witness groups support the legal profession in law cases: –ForensisGroup –Round Table Group
Example No. 1 Contact Thread (Network) Marketing 1.Met contact person named “Greg” after he had been unable to solve a “Fans” vibration problem for his commercial building client. The client subsequently contracted me, and I asked Greg to re-join the “Fans” project as my assistant. 2.The “Fans” project was eventually solved. 3.Greg later asked me to assist him on a “Large Fans” project at the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum.
Example No. 1 (Cont’d) 4.The “Large Fans” problem was eventually solved. 5.Greg asked me to assist him on a natural gas line valve vibration problem for Washington Gas. 6.The valve problem was subsequently solved. 7.Greg later asked me to assist him on a steel rolling mill vibration problem. 8.A solution was subsequently found.
9.Washington Gas later asked me to assist in resolving vibration problems on two different kinds of hexane injection pumps, with Greg making the vibration measurements. 10.A solution to this problem is currently being implemented Example No. 1 (Cont’d)
Example No. 2 Contact Thread (Network) Marketing 1.Met contact person “Bill” when he was retained to solve a machinery failure problem at my firm 2.Was later contacted by Bill, after I left my firm to work as a consultant, to assist in a factory explosion investigation. Effort lasted 2 years. 3.Was later contacted by Bill to work in a refinery investigation. Effort lasted 3 months.
Example No. 3 Special Focus Groups YourEncore Group –US Navy LCAC project –RFP preparation project ForensisGroup –Catalytic converter project –Wind turbine project –Patent evaluation project