Why Consultants Need Guerrilla Marketing

New business will be won only to the extent that the client believes that the professional is interested, cares, and is trying to help.

—David H. Maister1

For decades, consulting seemed like a dream job. The promise of challenging, satisfying work and great compensation attracted legions of smart, talented people to the profession. And consulting grew into a global industry that is forecasted to be a $159-billion-a-year market by 2005.2

Businesses—inundated by successive waves of new technologies, market shifts, and bold ideas—clamored for independent experts who could help them implement complex strategies to keep up with changes and embark on new ventures. The ranks of consultants swelled, and consulting firms racked up record-setting profits on high fees. Consulting became a serious business with a focus on making big money.

A more recent sign of the times, however, is apparent in the title of a seminar offered by the Institute of Management Consultants: "Management Consulting: Dream Job or Worst Nightmare?" Why might consulting be a nightmare?

Maybe it's because of several developments that have turned the industry on its ear. They include:

Sluggish growth rates for many consulting firms, declining fees, the unpredictable economy, and the cyclical nature of consulting

^ A market saturated with experts and fierce competition, which has led to aggressive selling wars over even the smallest projects

Widespread corporate scandals, consulting firm mergers, practice dissolutions, and trends like outsourcing that have clients scratching their heads about who does what and which consultants are trustworthy

^ Projects that have failed to live up to consultants' promises, leaving clients wary of making further investments

New firms that entered the market out of nowhere in search of a fast buck and quickly vaporized

These changes have tarnished the images of all consultants, whether they are individual practitioners or members of larger firms. Consultants are facing nothing less than a crisis in clients' confidence.

What Is a Consultant?

A consultant offers professional advice or services for a fee.

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