Finding onramps

The first rule for choosing the right marketing tactics is that there is more than one choice. The right message and sequence for launching marketing weapons will vary from practice to practice. Your constraints are your creativity and, of course, your budget.

Here's one piece of advice, though. As you decide how to construct your marketing Road Map, ignore what other consulting firms are doing. Start fresh. Otherwise, you'll find yourself squeezed into the "we have to be conservative" marketing strategies that are the norm for professional service firms.

Large firms that have more than one type of consulting practice will probably need a different Road Map for each practice. The specific tactics and timing may not be the same for your health care practice and your technology practice.

The content of your Road Map depends on the clients and industries you target as well as your budget, expertise, talents, and the stage of your career or firm. If you're just starting your career, you may not have many clients. So focus on external marketing activities like writing articles and giving speeches. Conversely, when you have many existing clients, focus more of your marketing investment on them than on attracting new clients.

Some marketing tactics may be especially suitable for your use. If you are a great writer, take advantage of that talent. On the other hand, if speaking in front of an audience ties your tongue into knots, leave that off the Road Map for now. Get some coaching on how to improve that skill. Once you are more comfortable with public speaking, you can add it to your Road Map.

Like Mark Allen, pinpoint your weaknesses and build them into strengths. Look for professional training or consider collaborating with other experts to help you when you need it.

Consider outsourcing certain marketing endeavors such as developing, writing, and producing newsletters and Web sites. Trade services or collaborate with other consultants. For example, if you're a human resources expert and a consultant in another firm is an authority on the motion picture industry, join forces to author an article on how to motivate stressed-out creative people.

Assess your marketing options and use Table 5.1 to help choose the right marketing weapons for your practice. The table shows the relative level of effort, market impact, and cost of the most commonly used marketing weapons.

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