Archive for the ‘Marketing’ Category

Today’s Marketing Quiz…

Q. What happens when you stop marketing?

A. Nothing… happens…

–Advice from an old marketer many years ago. 

Copyright © 2014, jumptoconsulting.com. All rights reserved.

Lead Generator # 20 – Last (and perhaps least)… Advertising…

There is a reason I saved advertising for last – because (IMHO) it is just not that effective for consulting practices — particularly when starting out.

Yet advertising is the first thing many newbies want to try. After all, Proctor & Gamble uses it to sell soap, and General Motors uses it to sell cars. We’re bombarded by ads every day, so it must be the way to go, right?

Two problems with this thinking.  First, you’re selling a service, not a product. Second, you’re a small business with limited resources, not a huge conglomerate with deep pockets. Incidentally, we’ve seen large company refugees struggle with this transition.

So forget about radio/TV, newspapers, and national magazines. While you’re at it, forget about on-line consumer-oriented stuff like AdWords or PayPerClick. Think like a doctor, not like a car dealer.

Nevertheless, some advertising should be in your marketing mix. The secret is to rule out “mass market” advertising, and focus on “niche market” advertising. You’re not trying to build brand awareness for a new toothpaste — rather, you’re trying to attract the right clients to your services.

With that in mind, let’s look at some adverting methods suitable for consulting. They combine focus with direct response. Consider both printed and on-line versions of these methods.

–Space ads - Place small ads in specialty publication read by your potential clients (not necessarily by your peers.) For example, if you are an engineer looking to provide expert witness services, advertise in legal magazines, not engineering magazines.

Unless they are potential clients, avoid academic publications that are read primarily by researchers. We once made this mistake, and all we attracted were inquiries from recently minted PhDs looking for employment.

Example - We run “business card” ads in two specialty publications that serve our niche. Not every issue — usually the annual buyer’s guide and the trade show edition. If we have an article appearing in the magazine, we run a space ad in that issue too.

–Directories - Pick directories that will be checked by potential clients. Some directories are run by magazine publishers, and others by trade/professional/business organizations. Consider both types.

It is usually best to avoid generic directories such as the yellow pages, unless your market is local. When we once ran a yellow page ad, we got inquiries from copier salesmen — but no business leads.

Example - We are listed in several directories, both print and on-line. Some are free, some have a nominal charge. When offered, we pay a premium for highlighted listing.

–Direct mail - Use targeted lists, including your own. Make it response driven. Include an offer for a white paper, newsletter, etc. Avoid fluff letters that sound like press releases. If you don’t have a call to action, don’t mail it.

Consider a mix of e-mail and snail mail. The former works better for high volume and repetition (such as mailing newsletters). The latter works better for low volume messages, and may have a bigger impact. Sometimes a “real” piece of mail stands out. If using e-mail, make sure you are not spamming.

Example - We’ve used targeted direct snail-mail for 20 years for our classes. Some years we’ve sent out over 100,000 mail pieces. The is not cheap. Years ago the response rate was 1-2%, but has since dropped lower, so make sure it is worth it. While e-mail may be cheaper, our response rates have been even lower yet.

Finally, consider advertising “air support” for your other marketing efforts — NOT your primary method for lead generation. Don’t put all your lead-generating eggs in the advertising basket!

P.S. This concludes the series on “20 Ways to Generate Leads.”  The next series will be “Seven Steps in Selling,” with a focus on selling consulting services.


Copyright © 2014, jumptoconsulting.com. All rights reserved.

Lead Generator # 19 – Gimmicks

Generally not in favor of gimmicks here - thing like coffee cups, key chains, T-shirts, etc. Frankly, I’m not sure they are appropriate for most consulting practices.

But the RIGHT gimmick can be an effective marketing tool, as long as it is practical and useful.

Planning calendars are a good example — and they keep your name out there all year. I’ve been the recipient of desk planners and pocket planners, and appreciated them both. And when using them, I was always favorably reminded of the calendar donor.

While we’ve not given out calendars ourselves, we have used two other gimmicks with success. Both are useful, and one even includes a bit of humor. Neither is expensive, and both are keepers — having a much longer potential life than calendars.

Useful Bits of Information (UBI) – This is a three fold mini-brochure that fits a shirt pocket. The inside panels contain several tables of engineering information relevant to our business, while the outside panels brief descriptions of our services and backgrounds. Most important — both sides contain our full contact information.

Our fellow engineers love stuff like this (and we do too.) While our business cards may get tossed, UBI may be saved for years. If/when a need for our help arises, the contact information is readily available — including our toll free 800 number.

UBI was conceived many years ago as an inexpensive handout for talk at a trade show. When people began stopping us in the halls to get their own copy of UBI, we knew we had a winner. We now hand these out with our business cards, and also in our classes.

To date, several thousand UBIs are out there, silently marketing our services while helping our engineering colleagues.

EMI-GURU Button - This is a two inch metal button one can wear. It is bright red, like the Staples “Easy Button.” Since we were first, we’ve often joked that Staples must have copied US :-) .

Our fellow engineers like this too. After all, who doesn’t want to be a guru? Like UBI, the button gets saved. We’ve even seen them pinned on cubicle walls – advertising our services to other engineers at the same time. More silent marketing.

A narrow white border has both our web site (WWW.EMIGURU.COM) and our toll free phone number (1-888-EMI-GURU.) As an aside, ALWAYS include your contact information on ANY marketing materials.

The button was conceived as a handout at a show to announce our website and phone number. Like UBI, we knew we had another winner when people were stopping us in the halls. Appreciating the humor, we even had several of our friendly competitors wearing our button.

Incidentally, the button was instrumental when we trademarked “EMI-GURU”, as it established legal proof of the use of our trademark. Or so our lawyer explained. We also pass out the buttons in our classes, making our students “deputy EMI-GURUs.” Good fun.

So don’t overlook gimmicks, but do make them useful or fun. Most important, they can generate leads when you least expect it!

Copyright © 2014, jumptoconsulting.com. All rights reserved.

Lead Generator # 18 – Collaborate…

“No Man is an Island…” beings a poem by John Donne. Written almost 400 years ago, it is still true today. True in life, and true in your own consulting practice.

In this post, we’ll look at leveraging your business by collaborating with others. We’ll examine several facets of collaboration — marketing (lead generation), production (joint projects), or a combination of both. We’ve done all three over the years with success.

-Marketing - Use joint efforts to promote your businesses. These can be simple, like cross referrals on web sites or guest blog posts. They can be more sophisticated, like forming a group to provide cross marketing. An example of the latter is the Forensic Group, a local engineering group in Arizona who help each other as expert witnesses.

-ProductionCall in colleagues for help. Maybe you get the huge job, but can’t handle all of it or don’t have all the necessary expertise. A common example is the remodeling contractor. While the contractor may do much of the work, he/she calls in preferred plumbers, electricians, or concrete finishers to take care of special tasks.

-Combo marketing & productionThink temporary  partnerships. That means the relationships don’t need to last forever, but they do need to benefit all parties involved. These are often complimentary businesses, but can even include friendly competitors.

Here are several examples of successful collaborations for us:

  • Teamed with TUV Product Service (a local test lab) on a mini-trade show. Started in 1986, the annual Minnesota EMC Event is now 26 years old. It was our fist collaboration, and gave both firms great visibility in our local MN market.
  • Teamed with Tektronix (a large test equipment manufacturer) on public training seminars. Started in 1993, this successful partnership is now 20 years old. This gave both firms national visibility in our specialty.
  • Teamed with EDN (a major engineering magazine) on a 100 page design guide. Not only did we write all the content, but we helped solicit the advertisers. As a result, it was highly successful for the publisher. And with over 130,000 copies, it gave us worldwide visibility and credibility. The guide eventually became a book, which we now sell on our website and hand out in our classes.
  • Teamed with a consulting colleague on a specialty web portal. This turned out to be a poor fit for our consulting businesses, but it was good fit for a magazine publisher who subsequently purchased it. For the publisher, it was a make or buy decision, and we had already done the heavy lifting.
  • Most recently teamed with the Applied Technology Institute on a specialty class. ATI specializes in technical training programs for the military/aerospace market. We tailored an existing in-house class for their market, plus they promote our existing public classes. Definitely a win-win for both firms.

Don’t want to mislead you — all of the above involved substantial efforts. Yet they have all paid off rather nicely. As with most marketing efforts, be prepared to a lot of work.

Here are some additional do’s and don’ts on collaboration:

  • DO seek a win-win-win - You must benefit, your partner(s) must benefit, and your clients/customers must benefit. The benefits need not be purely financial. Increased visibility alone may justify collaboration, particularly when you are starting out.
  • DO get something in writing – We prefer a memo of understanding. You don’t need a formal contract (which may mean lawyers), but you do need to document the relationship and expectations This is particularly true if money is involved — who does what, costs, and profit splits.
  • DON’T call up and ask for overflow  business – This is begging, not collaboration. We occasionally get these calls, and frankly find them rather annoying. Bring something to the party first.

Finally, collaboration allows small firms to leverage their strengths and multiply the results. Just make sure there are benefits for everybody!

PS - Fellow Arizona blogger Pam Slim (Escape From Cubicle Nation) offers a nice on-line class on collaboration. Check it out here.

Copyright © 2014, jumptoconsulting.com. All rights reserved.

Questions from a CPA trying to break free…

This question was posted recently on LinkedIn. Can’t help myself … I just had to jump in… marketing a consulting practice is a favorite topic!

I am a CPA who would like to would like to own my own CPA firm, but clients have been hard to come by.  Any ideas on a proven marketing program?

Here is my reply:

Yours is the first question asked when people find out I’m an independent consulting engineer. But after 30+ years in business, I’ve concluded there is no “magic bullet” or “proven marketing program.”

But don’t despair – you can do it as many have before you. It just takes time and effort.

One big advantage you have is a professional license, in an area where almost everyone can use your help. The big questions are WHO do you go after, and HOW how do you reach them?

The key is to focus. You need both strategies and tactics.

STRATEGIES — Try to define your ideal market(s), subdividing into niches. For example:

  • Business (B2B) or personal (B2C)?
  • Local or nationwide?
  • Special services like tax, audit, financial planning, estate planning, or???
  • What about specialty markets, like accounting for medical practices, or??? (Heard of one accountant who specialized in homeowner associations, and owned his local market – now that is a clever niche.)

TACTICS – Its all about credibility and visibility. That can be done through:

  • Speaking (such as local professional groups)
  • Writing (focused tutorial articles or white papers)
  • Teaching (adult education,seminars, webinars)
  • Networking (LinkedIn of course, along with cultivating live contacts.)

It won’t happen overnight, but it is worth it. Pick a couple and start working on them.

Incidentally, many of these can be done while you are still employed. We spent several years “laying pipe” before breaking free in 1987. Even though the market crashed (the very first day in business!) we still survived thanks to those previous efforts.

So it is doable, but it takes work. Is it worth it? I certainly think so – no regrets here!

Several other replied, but here is my favorite, from Carl Harrington, another tax accountant. Great nuts and bolts advice – my favorite kind.  These ideas apply to other disciplines too.

Couple of brief comments based upon my myopic view.

1. People don’t want to pay CPA’s to do the tax work because they didn’t want to pay the taxes in the first place.

2. Many people don’t understand the limited FAT privilege. The people who need you the most (in trouble) can’t hire you or share with you as you are not privileged. I would target every tax attorney in town and offer assistance, to come and meet the client at their office as part of their virtual staff or under a kovel letter. I would do this for free, or else you are not helping to facilitate their employing you.

3. You have a great chapter 9 going on in Detroit, probably with enough accounting and audit work for 30 CPA’s. Have you scoped it out yet? Why not? That work is not only huge, it would be fun too. They are re-negotiating thousands of contracts…..

4. Start volunteering with VITA, Start volunteering with public law firms who do things for indigent people. Soon your reputation will precede you. Go to small business meetings, become a volunteer for SCORE and other similar organizations. Teach classes on tax and accounting. Teach areas of taxation for attorneys, CPAs and EAs.

5. Shadow the local CPA; EA; TAX ATTORNEY meetings. Look for office space opportunities (a) to find what’s out there, (b) as a pretext to meeting new people.

6. Get the tax prep software (demos) and become familiar. Take free training from Drake etc. Get all your computers organized to go into business and clone everything so that you will have backup.

You will have a lot to do, and you will be able to open the CPA office “naturally” as you become so in demand that it is the greater of your choices.

Get busy and sustainedly busy before you launch.

Lot of work to do this……no time to slack off…….but you will be in demand…..

Of course, I invited Max and the others following the discussion to visit us here.

If you are one of those readers, welcome.  If not, you are also welcome!

Copyright © 2014, jumptoconsulting.com. All rights reserved.

Lead Generator #17 – Sales Agents & Reps

Using a sales agent sounds like the ideal method for those who don’t like sales and marketing. Just pay someone else to do it, right?.

Unfortunately, nobody cares for your business like you do, so I do NOT recommend this as a primary source of business. To be blunt, if you are not ready and willing to market and sell, you are not ready to start a consulting practice!

But done correctly, agents and reps can generate incremental business. It has worked for us, and we are even included on one manufacturing rep’s line card. We are also listed in a training catalog. While neither is a major source of business, it is still good business and much appreciated.

Here are some comments on dealing with sales agents and reps, based on my 25 years as a full-time consultant — 7 years as a field sales engineer — and 2 years managing independent sales reps.

  • Synergy – Look for someone already in your market niches. For example, both our rep and our training firm serve the same business niches we do. They are already in front of the right people, so it is easy for them to offer our services as an add-on.
  • Share of mind - Good sales people are busy. Keep in contact — out of sight, out of mind — but don’t overdo it. An occassional e-mail or phone call will suffice. If/when the opportunity arises, offer to buy them lunch or dinner (or even a beer.)
  • Support - Good sales people value their time. It is a precious resource. Make it easy for them — provide materials, answer questions, and follow up right away. And don’t be bossy — rather, ask what they need and how you can help them.
  • Payment - Good sales people are motivated by money. Don’t expect things for free. We pay commissions as follows:
    –10% on a lead. We follow up, close the business, do the work, and bill the client.
    – 20% on a purchase order. We do the work and bill the client.
    – 30% on paid business. We do  the work, then and get paid for it.
    Our payments are based on fees only, but not expenses. They get paid when we get paid. And we mail their check out right away — no delays.
  • Agreements – You need an agreement or memo of understanding that spells out terms and responsibilities. Keep  it short, but it must be signed by both parties.

So how do you find a suitable sales person? Network and cultivate contacts.

A good place to start is trade shows. Ask companies in your market place who they use. This is particularly useful if you are targeting a specific locality. Most people will share this, as long as you are not seen as a potential competitor.

Another good place is professional organizations. That is how we met our manufacturer’s rep, along with several clients. Local  chapters are particularly effective — they are like watering holes where everybody regularly meets to quench their business thirsts.

What kind of sales person are you looking for? Briefly, here are four classes of sales personnel:

  • Reps - Also known as manufacturer’s representatives. These are often small independent sales organizations who focus on both a business niche and a geographical niche. They usually operate on full commission, do not carry products for sale, and are paid upon sales/delivery. We are on the “line card” of one rep who serves our business niche.
  • Resellers - Like reps, there are often smaller firms that specialize in marketing services to specific business niches. One example is firms who match-make expert witnesses with law firms. Another is training catalogs, a method we use. Like a rep, both make their money upon the sale.  (Unfortunately, there are charlatans who want advance payment — my advice — don’t do it.)
  • Distributors – These are usually larger organizations, but may also focus on business niches. They usually carry products for sale, and may offer ancillary services. The latter is where you may fit as a consultant, particularly if you serve a special niche. We’ve done business this way.
  • Field sales – These are full time company employees, and likely can not represent you, but may provide contacts as they have a lot of visibility into their territories. I was a field sales engineer (Intel & Tektronix) for seven years, and often passed along leads to consultants as a courtesy (no fees.). In return, they advised me of potential sales opportunities.

Don’t overlook other professionals or similar businesses. Depending on the business, fees may or not be the norm. If no fees are involved, do your best to return the courtesy. Don’t take without giving back.

Finally, avoid conflicts of interest. As Registered Professional Engineers (PE), we do NOT pay fees to non-sales organizations, nor do we accept fees for referrals. Neither are allowed by our rules of professional ethics.

We do pass leads and recommendations along as appropriate, and we make sure our clients understand that no money changes hands. Keeps it clean and simple.

Hope his has given you some ideas on how you might use existing sales organizations. But you still need to do the bulk of the sales and marketing yourselves – at least if you want to stay in business!

Copyright © 2014, jumptoconsulting.com. All rights reserved.

Lead Generator # 16 – Referrals & Testimonials…

No doubt about it, referrals are a leading source of leads for established consultants. But how do you get leads and testimonials when just starting out? Simple… ask for them!

Yes, I know that asking for something scares a lot of people. What if they reject you? Don’t worry — most people won’t. If they know you and like you (and your work), they will be happy to help.  Who doesn’t like passing along a favorite doctor, accountant, mechanic, or even a restaurant?

And if they do turn you down? So what – just move on. Incidentally, this often happens if you deal with sensitive issues. But you still may be able to get a passive referral.

The secret is to make it as easy as possible for others to help you. In this post we’ll look at several avenues – active referrals, testimonials, passive referrals, and references.

Active referrals -  You’ve just finished a project for a client, and they are pleased. This is the ideal time to simply ask “Do you know anybody else that might benefit from my services?  If so, can you share their name?”

Next, follow up with a short letter to the referral. I prefer this to an e-mail (which can end up in the spam folder anyway) or a phone call (which can be intrusive.) Mention the referral source, briefly introduce yourself, and include your brochure and business card. Invite them to visit your web site.

You don’t have a brochure? See my post on collateral. A simple three fold brochure is ideal — keep it simple. You don’t have a web site? Well, what are you waiting for?

About a week later, follow up with a brief phone call to verify receipt. Don’t push. If you have a newsletter, ask if you can add them to your mail list (the polite thing to do.)

This may not lead to immediate business (and probably won’t), but it does plant a seed for future business. And it only takes a few minutes, and the courage to simply ask.

Once in a while, though, you’ll get some immediate work. So keep at it — particularly if you are just starting out.

Testimonials - This is a variation on referrals that can be very effective. In this case, you ask if your client would be willing to endorse you on your web site.

You need to do the leg work. Write up a two or three paragraph summary of the project, and what was accomplished. Be specific. Did you solve a vexing problem? Did you increase sales or reduce costs?

Make it simple for the client – don’t ask them to write the summary – it will likely never happen. But do have the client review and approve the testimonial prior to publication. No embarrassments that way. Ask for a personal comment or two.

In some cases, the client may be uneasy with a live testimonial (complete with their name & company.) The fact that they have used a consultant may be sensitive. We run into this in our engineering practice, and often sign nondisclosure agreements promising to keep the consultation private.

The alternate is a anonymous testimonial. You write this, but keep it general so nobody can identify the client. However, try first for a live testimonial — much more effective.

Passive Referrals – Similar to active clients, these are non-clients who can still refer business. These include friends, business/professional colleagues, vendors, and more.

If you haven’t done so, you need to develop your networks. It is important to keep  in touch with these contacts. We’ve found our newsletter to be very effective.

We also spend time with the vendors at conferences, and support them whenever we can. Sales people are an excellent source of leads, as they are in the marketplace every day.

Should you pay for referrals? It depends (see my recent post on Referral Fees.) To avoid conflicts of interest, we do not pay (nor accept) referral fees from clients or colleagues.

We do pay fees to bona-fide sales/marketing companies. These include a manufacturer’s rep (we are on their line card) and with training firm (we are in their catalog.)  All other referrals are exchanged on a courtesy basis.

Incidentally, most of our engineering business now comes from passive referrals, along with former clients and students. But we’ve been at this full time for over 25 years – one of the few benefits of getting older :-)

References - The  most generic, a list of references can be effective. But if you are just starting out, you may not much of a list. As your business develops, however, you’ll want to include a list of references.

Many consultants include a list of client names (thinking the more names, the more impressive.) If you do this, make sure you have everybody’s permission first. Many companies are very sensitive about their names appearing in your marketing materials. You don’t want to hear from anybody’s legal department.

My recommendation – don’t use client names. Instead, use a project list. Most prospective clients don’t really care who you have worked for — they care what you can do for them — and what you have done in the past.

A project list does this, and protects client confidentiality. It also sends a subtle message that new clients will be treated the same way. Here is our project list.

What if somebody wants a live reference? We will provide them, but only after first contacting the prospective reference. To keep it simple, we usually provide two names.

When starting out, you may need to have some names ready to go. After all, you are still an unknown. This will diminish as you become established.

In closing, referrals and testimonials are very effective… and should be an integral part of marketing  your practice and generating new leads. Keep at it, as referrals become even more effective over time!

Copyright © 2014, jumptoconsulting.com. All rights reserved.

A question on workshops…

Here is a question from Cheryl at the Business Consulting Buzz group:

Has anyone had luck at using workshops as a sales tool?

I am considering this in my area at no charge to increase my client base. Has anyone been successful doing this? If so, what have you found to be the best time of day for larger attendance?

Does anyone think this is a really bad idea?

And here is my comment:

Cheryl — I think workshops and seminars are a great idea! They have been a major marketing tool in our engineering consulting practice for the past 25 years.

I agree with Bob Richard regarding conferences — always good to have a sponsor. We started with free workshops (1-3 hours typical), primarily at technical conferences. This provides a ready audience of highly qualified prospects (both interested in the topic, AND able to get money to go to a conference in the first place.)

Later, some of these grew into paid offerings, although we still do the freebies. In fact, the paid seminars now generate a significant part of our revenues. Over the years, we morphed from a pure consulting firm into a consulting/training firm.

Along with conferences, don’t overlook talks/workshops for local organizations (monthly chapter meetings, etc.) Just make sure you are talking to the right people with the right topic.

Two final final bits of advice:
– Keep is simple. You are not trying to impress your peers, but rather you are trying to reach those who need your help. Think tutorials.
– Don’t sell. Nothing turns people off quicker than a sales pitch. Deliver useful information. The acid test for us is “Even if we never do business, has this session been helpful?”

More details right here at JumpToConsulting – just check the archives under Marketing.

Copyright © 2014, jumptoconsulting.com. All rights reserved.

Lead Generator #15 – Networking…

Consulting isn’t just about expertise — it is also about relationships. What better way to build those relationships than through networking?

Networking isn’t just for consultants. It is something you should do regardless of your career. As the old saying goes, “It’s not what you know, but who you know.” True for finding new jobs… and for finding new clients.

Networking can seem painful. Many consultants are introverts — we’re thinkers and planners. We like to deal with problems and ideas, not necessarily with people. Leave that for the sales and marketing types, right?

But if you are a solo practitioner, it is up to you (and you alone) to get the business. You first need to GET the projects before you can DO the projects. That means YOU are the now sales and marketing department.

As an aside, I often advise my engineering colleagues (among the most introverted and distrustful of sales and marketing) to treat getting the business as just another challenging problem to be solved. Looking at it that way, it can even be fun. It is for me.

So how do you network? Strategically. Go where your potential clients are. Think about the niches you serve. This is not about “speed dating” or collecting business cards. Rather, you need to focus — use a rifle, not a shotgun.

And don’t overlook recommenders — others serving your markets. These include professionals (attorneys, lawyers, bankers), media (magazine editors and newspaper reporters), and yes, sales people (reps, distributors, etc.)  Some of my best business leads over the years have come from these sources.

Here are some ways to network strategically:

–Professional organizations… If you are a professional and not already a member — join today!  Participate — don’t just attend meetings. If you business is local, get involved at the local chapter level. If you business is national, get involved at the national level.  If both, well, get involved at both levels.

Volunteer to speak. Short talks and tutorial sessions provide great exposure, and help your colleagues at the same time. Special committees are good too.  We’ve done both, and it has paid off well. Plus, we’ve made a lot of good friends along the way.

One caveat — pick and choose you efforts with care, as volunteer organizations can suck up time like crazy. Don’t spread yourself too thin — you still need to make a living.

–Symposiums… Many professional organizations have annual trade shows. You should attend these too. These are an excellent opportunity to meet the movers and shakers in your industry, which include influencers like journalists and marketers.

Skip the academic sessions, and head for the tutorials. Better yet – volunteer to present – this puts you in front of potential clients. And spend time on the show floor talking to the sales/marketing folks. You’ll learn about new products/services, and often new opportunities as well.

–Trade & Civic organizations… Think about places your clients and potential clients hang out to network. Then plug into those networks, at least on an occasional basis.

For example, if you are an accountant serving a local business market, consider joining local Rotary or Lions clubs. If you are an accountant serving a special niche such as HOAs (home owners associations), consider joining the local or national HOA group. (Yes, such groups exist.)

–Social media... Thanks to the Internet, social media offers many opportunities to expand your networks at very low cost. One caveat — do not rely solely on social media — the personal touch is still crucial.

The big four today are LinkedIn, FaceBook, Twitter, and Google+.  My experience suggests that LinkedIn is preferred for B2B, while FaceBook shines with B2C. Done right, Twitter can be effective for both. Just joined Google+ so I have no opinions on it yet.

The key is to be where your potential clients are at. Once again — watch your time. If you are not careful, these can be addictive and can become tremendous time sucks.

Finally, don’t expect immediate results – networking is for the long term and will eventually pay off.  As a plaque in my office says, “In the pond when you least expect it, a fish will appear.” But you need to have your line in the water…

People buy from those they know, like, and trust. Networking works!

Copyright © 2014, jumptoconsulting.com. All rights reserved.

Marketing is key for both authors and consultants…

As part of my commitment to get off my butt and write my book on consulting, I attended the Indie Author Publishing Conference this weekend in Phoenix. Over 120 authors and prospective authors heard from several panels of experts that included book editors, agents, publishers, legal experts, and more.

The focus was on the business end of writing. Lots of nuts and bolts stuff – how to pitch your book to agents and editors, published vs. self published, digital books, copyright issues, and much more. Learned a LOT about the ins and outs of the book business. In fact, I’ll never look at a book the same again.

A crucial message repeated throughout the conference — marketing is key! You can write the best book in the world, but without marketing it won’t go far.

As one presenter said, “Writing is an craft — publishing is a business.” It struck me that consulting and writing are similar. If you want to make a living at either, you must first treat them as businesses.

That doesn’t mean you don’t deliver quality. It was reiterated many times — you still need to write good stuff. So it is with consulting — you still need to deliver good results.

Incidentally, it is OK to write or consult as a hobby. Many do this in retirement, or as a pleasant diversion during the working years. We moonlighted for almost ten years before going full time as consultants, and enjoyed it. Even made a few bucks along the way.

But if you want to make a living at writing or consulting, you must focus on the business end of things. And the most important aspect of both businesses is the marketing! Without clients or readers, you won’t make any money.

Here were several insights gleaned on the book business:

Publishers don’t market. They print and distribute. Any marketing they provide usually ends within the first 30 days of release. After that, it is up to YOU to promote your book.

Publishers like to see a platform. If you have a blog with 100,000 new visits per month, you can get published pretty fast. Ditto 100,000 (legitimate) follower on Facebook or Twitter. Do you have an existing fan base?  Don’t worry — even a smaller following helps.

Publishers like credibility. Have you written a book? How did it do? What about magazine articles or columns? Are you known in your market?

Publishers (particularly smaller ones) serve niches. For example, we were told that books on southwest gardening often do well in Arizona. Niche marketing works! (In this case, geography and topic.)

Publishers (particularly the larger ones) often work solely with agents. You may need the connections and guidance these specialized consultants provide.

Publishers reject a lot of stuff. Even really good stuff. So don’t give up — at least right away. But be sure you have a quality product.

Finally, it also struck me that there are many consulting opportunities in the publishing business. A prime example is the the husband and wife team of Arielle Eckstut and David Sterry. They founded and run The Book Doctors, a consultancy that helps aspiring writers get published.

Both are published authors (7 for Arielle and 12 for David), plus Arielle is an agent with a respected New York book agency. They presented a session on “How to Pitch a Book” followed by the Pitchapalooza at the end of the day. Good people!

So this weekend I learned about book publishing, and that writing and consulting have a lot in common. Marketing is key for both. Now, back to the book!

P.S. Special thanks to my favorite book store - Changing Hands in Tempe AZ – the sponsor of the conference.

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