Are you starting a business or personal consulting service and need to develop a marketing plan? Then review these 7 consulting marketing ideas and strategies to get your business off to a strong start.
It’s not easy to develop marketing, lead-generation plans for consulting services. Unlike services such as medical or contractors, consultants don’t really deal in the physically tangible. Many consulting businesses struggle because the people who need them don’t know they need them.
This means you can do a good job of reaching your audience and then…nothing happens. We’ve audited consulting marketing campaigns with conversion rates between .05% and 0%. No kidding. We’ve had more than one consulting business come to us with campaigns that got zero conversions. Hard to make a living with those results.
So here are some ideas on how you can improve on this and use online marketing to win new consulting clients.
#1. Design a Conversion-Based Website
At the heart of the problem for consulting services is their websites. Many websites are poorly designed with vague content that does nothing to help orient visitors or persuade them to reach out to the business. Make sure your website clearly states:
- What you do.
- Where you do it.
- How you can be contacted.
That sounds really basic, but many websites miss these things. You also want a strong call to action that motivates people to contact you.
Your design needs to be modern, professional, and mobile responsive. The aesthetic appeal of your site has a lot to do with building trust. A consultant with an outdated, confusing website that can’t be viewed on a phone really has no chance.
Here’s an example from our UXI® templates:
Your website will be the focal point of your online marketing. Make sure it’s convincing and professional.
Pro Tip: Offer a Free Initial Session
One way to entice new clients is to offer a free initial session in which you meet and discover if your consulting style is a fit for their needs.
People who’ll take advantage of this offer are usually serious about getting help, so this is a good way to start a relationship. The free initial offer is something that clicks with online consumers because it lowers their sense of risk. Many consultants require that prospective clients fill out a questionnaire so they have a basis for the free consultation.
#2. Develop a Unique Value Proposition or Niche Offering
For many consulting services, it’s actually not so much the design of the website as the content that’s the problem.
The issue is that too many consultants – both B2B and personal – are too vague about what they do. They make all kinds of general claims about how they contribute to the betterment of their clients, but they don’t make a connection because it’s all just cliches and overused platitudes.
Even if you’re a life coach or therapist with a broad offer that promises to help people improve their lives overall, you’ll make a stronger connection if you target a particular audience or are specific about the problems you deal with and solutions you deliver.
For example, this coach specializes in helping families with babies that have sleeping issues:
This is actually exceptionally specific for a coaching value proposition, but it makes the point. Instead of trying to help troubled parents with “everything”, she deals with a specific problem.
People seeking consultants and coaches are looking for an affinity. They want to get the sense that you understand their issue and have the expertise to help them.
In many cases, you’ll be better off having a crisp, specific value offering and targeting a larger area for your advertising so you still have a viable target audience.
It’s hard to market a business that claims to do everything for everybody. Dial in your value offering so people get a clear idea of how you solve their problem.
#3. Get on Page One of Search
To drive traffic to your website, you’ll want to show up for consultant related searches in your area. There are three ways to dominate the search results.
The first is pay-per-click advertising. These ads are run through auction-based systems like Google Adwords and Bing Ads. The main advantage here is that you show in the top positions (reserved for paid ads) and that you can control the ad copy and landing page. For example, you might want to run an advertisement for counseling high-school graduates in Spring. Your ad and the page it goes to on your website can match that offer.
Next, you need to set-up and rank for Google My Business. This is the maps listing and review platform Google uses for geo-targeted searches. It’s a free listing you can optimize with your descriptions and by getting customer reviews.
Then you have the organic website listings. These are also free clicks, with ranking gained by optimizing your website for keywords, gaining links, getting social media traffic, and adding content to your blog. Make sure the keywords you optimize for have a connection to your main value proposition and the relate to either B2B or personal consulting.
Organic listings do well for consulting services because there aren’t too many industry or reviews sites taking over the organic rankings, which is a problem with some other services. You can get your website to rank on page one for general consultant searches, and for searches on specific issues when you have a thorough blog article on the topic.
#4. Online Reviews
One of the most persuasive types of content you can generate about your consulting business isn’t actually generated directly by you. Rather, it’s reviews and testimonials from your satisfied clients.
Reviews on sites like Google, Facebook, and Top Rated Local can tip the scales in your favor and give a personal touch to your marketing material. Today, people check reviews carefully before deciding on a service, and they also like to see testimonials on websites. In short, they want to know you have a record of success helping people with problems similar to theirs.
If you have a strong record of success, your clients will be willing to leave you reviews, and often will do so of their own accord. If you’re having trouble getting reviews on a particular site (it’s good to have reviews across multiple platforms) use an emailer to request them.
Also, you can use Top Rated Local, which automates asking for reviews on multiple platforms through its email confirmation:
Also, add testimonial content to your website. You have more control over this content, so you can use it to highlight a particular area of your service.
Let your satisfied clients do some talking for you online. Today, reviews are an essential part of any business marketing campaign.
#5. Content Marketing
It’s to your advantage with internet marketing to freely share useful ideas and tips that relate to your services. It creates content you can use on social media and for SEO purposes.
This is called content marketing. You use your expertise to gain the trust of prospective clients. You nurture them until they decide it’s time to get some personal consulting services from you.
Start with your blog. As a consultant – and purported expert – it’s important that you have a strong blog with useful information to help people initially. In effect, you start the consulting process with your blog posts, giving people a sense of the answers you’ll provide for them in personal sessions.
Make sure you have a sign-up for your newsletter so you can capture emails and send people new content right to their inbox. Also, have social media widgets so people can click to follow on those platforms.
If you do any presentations, capture them on video and add them to your YouTube channel. Use all of this content as social media posts.
Content marketing helps people find you initially through search on Google or YouTube and on social media. Then, it grooms them so they trust you and have a better understanding of what you can do for them.
The sales cycle for consulting services can be long, requiring multiple touches before the lead is ready to work with you. Content marketing gets you those touches with valuable information people will welcome.
Pro Tip: Social Media Marketing
Be sure to set up a Facebook business page for your business. Activate reviews and messenger so potential clients can contact you directly. Use Facebook to curate content and share info for your content marketing.
If you do B2B consulting, be sure to have a personal LinkedIn account you use for business networking. Again, use this as content curation and marketing platform to keep in touch with your network and prospective clients.
#6. Create a Video
You can communicate your value proposition quickly and effectively with an introductory video. Here’s a good example:
Use your video on social media (including your Facebook business page), have it be your featured video on YouTube, and embed it on your website homepage.
For this video, invest in a professional production. It’s an investment that can pay off for years.
#7. Networking and Personal Branding
Online marketing and advertising can only go so far with consulting services. Because of the personal nature of consulting services and that fact that you – as the consultant – are the main part of the product, it’s important that you build your network and personal brand.
Your content marketing (idea #5) will be an excellent starting point to personal branding. Use this content to display your expertise and methodology. Social media is also an excellent way to connect and create a brand impression.
But don’t forget to get out in your community and network. Attend local functions and meetups, and offer to do free talks or business lunch and learns.
Connect with therapists, other business solutions, ministers, teachers, and others who might recommend your services. As a consultant, you are – in a way – always on when making these connections. You must exude confidence, calmness, expertise, and leadership.
Again, make sure you know who you’re trying to help (your value proposition), then network so people can refer you to those in need. If you do a consistent job of networking, you’ll find a lot of the traffic coming to your website is direct or from brand name searches.
Consultants tend to be compassionate and eager to give of themselves, but don’t forget that if you want to make a living at this, you also have to be a functional salesperson. Connect with the people who need you and then make sure they understand it’s in their best interests to work with you. Don’t be passive about this, or you’ll struggle to get paying clientele.
If all this seems a bit overwhelming, talk to one of our marketing consultants. Marketing 360® specializes in helping small business develop successful marketing campaigns. We’d love to help you succeed!