The feast-or-famine cycle traps many new and even experienced consultants. In the beginning the consultant focuses on client work and has no time for marketing. Their referral pipeline dries up.
When the client work ends they need to find a client as quickly as possible, so they work full time on marketing without earning income. Once they have another client they stop marketing and devote all their time to client work. And the feast-or-famine cycle starts all over.
Three things trap consultants in the Feast-or-Famine cycle,
- Taking it easy in the beginning because they have referrals
- Failing to build an ongoing system that fills their prospect pipeline
- Using the wrong marketing and networking for the current stage of their business
The Feast-or-Famine cycle is like a whirlpool. Often, once you are trapped it keeps pulling you back in. You need a How-To guides, scripts, and mentoring to quickly break free and build a pipeline of clients.
Consultants Must Take Control of their Prospect Pipeline
As a consultant you must take control of filling your prospect pipeline! You have no control if you leave your pipeline to the whims of referrals. At the same time, independent or boutique consultants are limited in time and resources so they have to carefully focus on marketing and networking that makes an impact.
Breaking out of the feast-or-famine cycle takes maximum leverage using the right marketing and outreach through the right channels at the right time. To do this you need three guiding principles,
- Match your best communication style to the prospect’s preferred channels
- Produce campaigns and content that can be leveraged and magnified into other campaigns and content
- Match your marketing and outreach to your consulting businesses’ maturity. Each stage of maturity has different needs, limits and abilities: budgeting, branding, experience and scope.
Your Business Needs are Different at Each Stage in Building Your Consulting Business
When you start consulting you may need revenue as quickly as possible, but you have limited budget, invisible brand image, and few testimonials. For most consultants at this stage the best route is one that brings in quick cash and client testimonials. Some consultants at this stage gather leads by speaking at local industry meetings, doing pro-bono or low-fee projects to gain experience and testimonials, and building near-term outbound marketing systems to fill the pipeline.
New consultants who focus on the wrong marketing, such as blogs or high-level referrals can go broke.
Consultants with more business maturity, time, and cash flow should work on automating their marketing, building inbound systems, and creating branding and imaging that automatically fills their pipeline.
Do the Right Marketing and Outreach at the Right Stage of Your Consulting Business
The Marketing Maturity Matrix shows three stages of consulting business maturity. (Time frames are approximate.)
No independent or boutique consultant should attempt to do too many types of marketing and outreach. That is a sure recipe for failure.
New consultants should start in the left stage and choose two or three types of marketing that fit their best style (writing, speaking, networking). Once they have a core marketing asset, like a whitepaper, it can be leveraged into other uses and channels. For example, a thought leadership whitepaper given personally to prospects can also be used as an opt-in offer on the website and published as a LinkedIn article. You can then post snippets of the article as LinkedIn posts that link back to the full LinkedIn article. If you are better at speaking you might choose a route that combines speaking, networking, and expert mentoring.
By choosing the right combination of marketing and outreach, and focusing until you are ready for the next stage, you will have far more success as you build a stable business.
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