The headline and subheader tells us what you're offering, and the form header closes the deal. Over here you can explain why your offer is so great it's worth filling out a form for.
I always urge consultants to re-evaluate the way they think about marketing. It’s not something that you get to eventually, once you have the time. Because let’s be honest, that day rarely comes.
Yet, when it comes to growing your consulting business, marketing has to be added to your priority list. You have to allocate a sufficient amount of time to it on a consistent basis. Sporadic marketing will fail to yield the types of results that would fuel your business growth in a real, meaningful way.
Now, my personal formula for success is allocating at least 30% of your work time towards marketing.
This is what I also encourage my clients to do. So today, I’ll be breaking down the specific time strategy techniques that will help you free up 30% of your time and allocate it towards marketing – towards strategically growing your visibility as a subject matter expert and then monetizing on that visibility.
Here is the number one root cause of the lack of time for marketing. It’s something I had never experienced myself, but I’ve observed countless consultants face:
The lack of focus!
I don’t mean lacking the attention span. I am talking about the lack of a narrowly defined positioning.
When everyone is your target market, you will never have the time. You will continue to say yes to all incoming opportunities, which will constantly keep you in the project execution mode, which will leave you no time for marketing.
No time for marketing means no business growth, which, in turn, puts you in the survival mode – you feel a lot of uncertainty and risk, and you say, yes, you keep saying yes to almost everything, to protect your income. You find yourself in a vicious loop.
So it's all about narrowing down your focus and focusing on the audience that you can really target for your marketing activities.
How often do you find yourself in this position: You send your proposal to prospects, they promise to get back to you but they don’t. You end up sending one reminder after another, wondering if, perhaps, you should offer a discount. This is a downward spiral. Your positioning is not offering a highly targeted, solution-specific transformative promise, meaning your prospects don’t feel like they are missing out on anything by not hiring you.
It’s also extremely difficult to get meaningful recommendations and referrals from clients, which leads to diminishing self-confidence and increasing hesitation.
Marketing only works when applied to a specific audience, specific problem, and specific solution. And if you are not offering this to your audience, then nobody really cares. Think of your own behavior as a consumer. If you have a problem, say your dishwasher broke down, your search for a very specific solution. You are not searching for a general kind of thing.
The general jack-of-all-trades approach will not work on any level of marketing:
Furthermore, much of marketing in consulting is about early disqualification, about filtering out your audience. The earlier you disqualify your prospects, the earlier you can save time. It's a big, big time saver and people underestimate it.
Not having enough time to do your marketing is a fixable issue. Start with fixing the issue of focus. Once you make the active decision of narrowing down your focus, you will automatically start fixing the time management problem. I’ve witnessed this with every single consultant I’ve worked with over the past 18 months who had the problem of being a generalist.
I call it the fixability journey.
Most consultants start the process backward (the red arrow). They think they need to fix their productivity without fixing their business approach, so they do agenda management, read up on time management techniques, etc. However, these systems don’t last for very long, and sooner or later the chaos once again takes over.
Productivity starts with the complete re-organization of your business model. It starts with narrowing down your focus. Then, you shift into upstream work and start packaging your services. Only then, you’ll be able to increase your productivity and free up time on a consistent basis for your marketing needs. I've done that, you can do it too.
But it all starts with deep commitment, which is a mindset issue. There are four underlying reasons for our fear of commitment:
Depth is your superpower - Pete Davis in his book ‘Dedicated’
As mentioned just now, our failure to commit often stems from a variety of fears, of fears that things will get worse once we commit. However, when it comes to your consulting career, in reality, it’s the opposite.
Getting recognition as an expert is really an amazing thing. Don’t you want to get calls from people from around the world asking you to advise their senior executives, provide a quote for a transformational project, to speak at global (virtual) events?
Commitment is an opportunity to learn so many things that other people never learn within your area of expertise, to create the level of expertise depth that others will find almost impossible to compete against.
It is counter-intuitive to do less to grow. And, of course, it takes time. However, reducing the amount of work you do requires having criteria that you evaluate tasks and incoming requests against.
Start working only on projects that align 100% with your focus and positioning. This gives you that free time you need to further deepen your knowledge, work on your marketing messaging, create thought leadership content, and increase your visibility.
Step by step, you are able to charge more and more for your work because your contribution to your client's pain resolution increases. You don’t have to take up as much work anymore, allowing you to become even more selective - or hire more people. Either way, your consulting business is growing because you are actively choosing to do less.
The key is in repetition and pattern recognition – the backbone of your expertise. When you narrow down your focus and you start repeating doing one thing all the time, you get better and better. You start noticing patterns, seeing the bigger picture. Your solution evolves from implementation type to advisory/diagnostic type.
What consultants need is the confidence that "the void” created by saying no, becomes an opportunity to do things that bring them further and closer to what they want to do. And with that comes the confidence that something else will come along, because they're worth it. - David Ducheyne, Founder & Consultant at Otolith
Your consulting business will never grow if you don’t dedicate time on a regular basis to marketing your expertise. And you will not be able to find that time unless you re-frame your audience and approach to client work. Not only that, but your marketing message will fall on deaf ears if it’s targeting too general of an audience.
It all starts with making the first step – narrowing down your focus. As you deepen your expertise, you will gradually move from downstream implementation work towards upstream advisory work that pays at a premium.
Do not start your productivity journey backward. Whichever system you create that way will fail. Maybe not tomorrow, maybe not next month, but it will come down crashing.
Get over the fear of commitment and realize the beautiful potential it holds.
Commitment will help you see your priorities more clearly. You’ll automatically cut out the noise and become insanely protective of your time.
Recommended reading: 6 Ways To Find More Time To Grow Your Consulting Business
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Hello, I’m Luk Smeyers and I’m guiding consultants through the journey of growing their business by helping them transform into visible authorities. I have been in consulting businesses for almost 20 years, in very different roles: as European CHRO in a global consultancy, as a startup founder in an analytics consultancy, and as a leader in a 'Big 4' consultancy, post-acquisition of the startup. I had the privilege of achieving global visibility as a consultant and I never had to sell, persuade, or negotiate as a result. I have now bundled all those experiences, expertise, know-how, research, reading, successes, struggles, and failures from managing and growing that visibility in the past years.
The Visible Authority is a brand of:
Luk Smeyers BVBA
Offices in Leuven (BE) and Munich (DE)