The other day I shared some exercises based on the Law of Attraction to help you identify and attract your ideal client. Although I believe that the Law of Attraction works, it’s also wise to take a more hands-on approach to finding clients.
My guest today is Sarah Williams, who brings us some great tips for marketing your business, including valuable resources for researching your competition. I’m excited about trying them out, and I think you will be too.
Are you looking to get more clients for your productivity services? Don’t know which way to choose first and can’t seem to put a marketing strategy in place? That’s OK because most solo-preneurs and consultants are in the same boat – knowing that they’ve got a solution for other people’s problems, but don’t know how to communicate it effectively.
In this post, I’ll highlight some easy to use strategies to start creating buzz around your consulting services and consolidating your personal brand.
Why Networking Is SO Important
So, when the entry barrier is so low in the consulting business, how can you really stand out from the other consultants out there? How can you express your unique colors and promote your signature training in a world so cluttered with solutions?
It’s all about strategic alliances and word-of mouth.
Just like with a marathon – you don’t just train on the last day before the run. You prepare maybe up to six months before the race, train the mind and the muscles, so when the big day comes, you are ready.
The same goes with networking – by the time you actually need your connections, you already have them, you can already have someone to call to for input, advice or partnership.
By keeping tabs on your network and connections, you’re able to not only see what everyone is working on, but also to spot new business opportunities. The key here is focusing on quality instead of quantity. Think of it in terms of Facebook fans, LinkedIn followers or email subscribers: it’s better to have 500 great people that follow your activity instead of 2,000 that are non-responsive.
You don’t have to join every social network on Earth, just pick some of the most popular ones with the biggest ranking potential:
- Facebook – build a Fan page and create a community
- Twitter – allow clients to speak up
- Youtube – send out testimonials, presentations, how-to videos
- LinkedIn – connect with other professionals in your niche
- Blog – prove and share your knowledge
Also, commenting on other people’s content on social media, blogs, videos, and so on, builds awareness and positions you as an expert in your niche. Joining forums and researching niche blogs allows you to get to know your industry, identify people’s needs and create more targeted solutions to fix those problems.
Social media has made networking extremely easy, but at the same time you need to keep a face-to-face interaction. You want to follow people on multiple platforms, see what they’re up to, but also be able to get on the phone and set appointments with your connections and prospects.
This extra mile can make all the difference between landing a new client or getting lost in the ocean of faceless businesses. There are many events you can attend or that you can organize yourself using a service called Meetup.com.
Blogging Your Expertise
You can establish yourself as an expert in your niche and get new clients by giving a small amount of your consulting information away for free. Build relationships with other bloggers in your niche, so that you are their “in house” productivity go-to expert. Your name and business will immediately gain more recognition.
Blogs help your consulting business grow in many ways. First, sharing premium content on a consistent basis will set you apart as an expert. People listen to experts, not dabblers. Plus, blogging allows easy publishing and adding keywords for basic SEO. But the main reason blogs are so useful is that they spark conversations and allow you to connect with your audience at a deeper level.
(Ethically) Spy Your Competition
Researching your competition helps you find un-tapped or under-tapped areas where you can join the market and provide unique signature solutions. You will never get away from competition, anyway. So why not use it in your favor?
Here are some of the best tools to check out your competition:
- Track market share, page rank, web content, budgets, keywords using The Search Monitor.
- Monitor your competitors’ websites (Copernic.com), download their keywords (SpyFu) and understand their marketing strategy.
- Compare up to five websites at a time (AttentionMeter.com) or use the HubSpot Marketing Grader to evaluate the marketing effectiveness of a website.
- Check out their Facebook. What are their freebies, what is their response rate to comments, questions or complaints? Subscribe to their Facebook RSS feed and keep an eye on all their status updates in your RSS reader.
- Monitor their Twitter. Create a private Twitter list and add your main competitors (they won’t know about it). Monitor their replies and analyze their followers with services like Tweepi.
Here is another valuable resource for understanding and ultimately crushing your competition: “Think Like a Marketer: What It Really Takes to Stand Out from the Crowd, the Clutter, and the Competition” by renowned marketing consultant Lauron Sonnier.
Your WHY Matters
Another key differentiator for your consulting business is your WHY – the reason why you’re in business. So make sure these questions are clearly addressed in your website and basically on all your marketing materials:
- What is your unique selling proposition?
- Why do you do what you do?
- What is it that you do better than your competitors?
Remember, if people are not inspired by you, they won’t buy your services. Simon Sinek, leadership expert and best-selling author, said in his famous TEDx talk that “people don’t buy what you do, but why you do it.”
Once you get clear on your WHY, you can create your signature solution. This isn’t necessarily a core training program, but instead your overall approach to the problems your customers face.
In other words, what’s your story? What people want to know is how you’re one of them, how you struggled to overcome the problems they currently face and how you found the answer they’ve been looking for and how great it is on the other side.
The key to winning the hearts of your clients is demonstrating value and developing trust. Always offer excellent service and provide follow up. But even more importantly, be YOU. Authentic, genuine and generous. People want to be helped by others who’ve already gone through what they’re currently going through. You don’t need to have reached the top of the mountain. You just need to be a few steps ahead of your customers.
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