3. Promoting Your Consulting Services
Knowing how to promote your consulting services is just as critical to consulting success as your domain knowledge and experience.
Promoting your consulting services helps your future clients feel secure and have confidence
in working successfully with you.
Your brand is not a slogan or logo. It is far more.
First, your brand is an impression you give of the strength, authority, and experience you have in solving your client’s problem. Second, your brand needs to give prospects and clients a vision of their future. Your brand needs to give them the confidence that you can help solve their problems. Third, your brand must be memorable, so you are the first in mind when they have the problems you solve.
You don’t have to be a mega corporation with billions of dollars in brand promotion to sell your services. There are proven systems to promote your consulting services, and you can learn and use them.
In this stage, you’ll see the brand elements you need to start consulting. You will need proven steps like a networking introduction that generates referrals, a premium LinkedIn profile that works for consultants, and proven consulting website designs.
Your Purpose and Message
One of the most important things you can do for yourself, your business, and your clients is to have a clear mission and purpose.
When you’re finished and have a short statement of mission and purpose, I want you to print it and tape it to your mirror, then read it each morning and remember where you are going.
Writing a mission and purpose statement should not take a weekend retreat to accomplish. (Unless you want to.)
The Balance Small Business website has a quick guide that can help you create a mission and purpose statement. Your mission and purpose statement should,
Try writing a few words for each of the bullets then combine them into one short but inspirational sentence.
Some examples that tell who, how, and why are,
To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time.
Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.
To accelerate the world's transition to sustainable energy.
Critical to Success
Building a better world through smarter, conscious consulting.
Capture Referrals with a One-Line Introduction
Your introduction is extremely important. In that introduction, you can include a one-line statement of your mission or purpose that sets up the conversation.
Done right, you can set up the conversation to instantly capture referrals. Sounds great, but how!
A short one-line statement may be all it takes to create a memorable image of what you do and whom you work with. When a potential prospect asks what you do you can respond with,
“Have you ever known someone who had a problem with …?”
“Have you ever worked in a company where you felt every division and department was going its own direction, there was no alignment or strategy, and lots of time and money were wasted?”
After they answer with how they’ve seen that affect someone, you respond with,
“That’s just what I fix!”
“Can you tell me more about what happened to you/your friend?”
Concise statements of what you solve and the value you bring are excellent for helping you refine your brand and focusing on your client and niche problems.
It’s also a great way to open a conversation into helping someone and getting an introduction for a referral.
Creating Your Consulting Business Name
If you have a mission and purpose statement you like and you’ve stopped working on your logo, then you’re probably ready to create your business name and get those all-important business cards.
Names for consulting businesses can be straightforward. Most small firms use the founder’s name and add the mission statement as a sub-line to clarify what your business does. You might also add one or two words after your name as a descriptor. For example,
Davis Strategic Performance
One advantage of adding one or two words after your name is that you are more likely to get the domain name you want for your website and email.
A few corporations and firms you might recognize who are named after the founders are,
A. G. Edwards
Now, you can use the time you saved by not searching for a name and spend it building your prospect list.
Creating a Logo - Don't!
In a word, “STOP!”
Don’t waste any more time working on a logo. Take all the scraps of designs out of your pocket and stuff them in an envelope.
You don’t need a logo for a solo or boutique consulting business. Instead, use a logotype.
A logotype is a single piece of type that works like a logo. Some of the following companies added logos or artifacts to their logotype, but only after they achieved billion dollar status. You might recognize a few of these companies,
If they can use a logotype, you can too. Now, use the time you’re saving by not drawing logos and go build your business. And when you reach a billion-dollar valuation, hire an artist to design a logo.
One thing I recommend in the Starting and Building a Thriving Consulting Business course is identifying a coordinated color palette and font set. In the course we give you a resource list with recommended color palettes and fonts.
Consulting Business Cards
Even in this totally wired world you still need business cards. You will need them in any networking situation.
Your business card should include,
Leave white space on the business card. It drives me crazy to get a business card that’s covered on both sides with a glossy picture or dark background. That leaves no place to write notes about the person you have met.
Quick print business cards with same day turn around often use 100 lb. stock paper. This is “good enough” if you need cards quickly, but it is a little light weight and flimsy. If you have a week to wait for the heavier stock that print shops use, go with at least, the next heavier paper.
Don’t use odd shaped cards. They don’t fit in men’s wallets and they’re awkward to carry or collect. If you want to be memorable, do it with your sparkling personality.
When you accept a card, hold it, and read it. Then put it in your breast pocket. I’ve seen people take a card and not even look at it before stuffing it in their pocket. It leaves the person you’ve just meet with the feeling you have no interest.
As soon as you return to your office send the person whose card you accepted an email acknowledging your meeting.
Always send a LinkedIn connection request if the person is in any way connected to your industry or niche.
There are good companies that have pre-designed card templates online. Some printers, such as Federal Express, have an online template you complete, then you pick up the cards in a few hours or the next day. (Fast turn-around cards often use the lighter stock paper.) Some online printers give you online templates and then ship your cards in approximately a week.
Check for business cards created online for US delivery at,
Adding an Email Signature Block
Every time you send an email someone will see your signature block. Use it effectively to brand yourself. You should include,
Mission or Purpose Statement
Direct Phone Number
Some additional items you should seriously consider are,
LinkedIn Profile Address
Shelley Golden, a personal branding image consultant in Northern California, has a well-done signature block that shows multiple ways to contact her. The YouTube video gives you an impression of what it’s like working with her.
Building a Cornerstone that Focuses Your Consulting Services and Marketing
Your consulting business and your marketing needs a cornerstone to stay focused and aligned.
The cornerstone is the first stone set in the
construction of a masonry foundation.
All other stones will be set in reference to this stone,
thus determining the position of the entire structure.
With all the “Shiny New Things” and the occasional off-track consulting opportunity, it can be difficult to stay aligned with your niche and mission. Having a cornerstone can keep you aligned, and your minimal time and resources focused.
If your consulting business was a non-fiction book the cornerstone would be a Table of Contents with each chapter title having a short descriptive excerpt. If your consulting business was a skyscraper the cornerstone would be the open iron framework and floors before putting up walls and offices.
Your initial cornerstone should be an enhanced outline
that keeps you aligned and on track.
While you are in start-up mode your cornerstone can be just a good outline with a paragraph description of each of your consulting services. That’s all you need to keep your business on track. It is NOT a business plan.
Later your cornerstone will become a robust description of your consulting services. Eventually your cornerstone will become a framework and draft you can build into,
Build Your Cornerstone Over Time
Keep your first cornerstone light and in outline form. Only after you have validated that you have the right niche and found a spot where clients love you will you want to write more and add depth.
A complete cornerstone on some websites runs to 100 or more pages. It’s a good start towards a book.
You can’t do that all at once. It takes too much time and you won’t know the right content until you have tested your consulting hypothesis.
Your initial cornerstone will change as you work with clients, competitors and the marketplace. Just work with it, modify it when you see your business has to change, and in a year you will have a book.
“No plan survives first contact with the enemy”
- frequently quoted
“No plan of operations reaches with any certainty beyond the first encounter
with the enemy’s main force.”
- Original quote from Helmuth van Moltke,
Chief of Staff, Prussian Army, 1880
Your initial cornerstone sets the framework for your consulting offering and marketing.
Initially, create a cornerstone with one to three consulting areas. For example, think of the one to three major pains you solve in your consulting. Outline those. If your marketing or sales “wander” outside those one to three pains you know you are off course and are wasting time and resources.
If you find that the market and clients are demanding something different from you then you may need to change your cornerstone, but don’t let shiny new things and random events change your cornerstone.
After having written 27 non-fiction books published by Macmillan and J Wiley Press the best way I have found to write non-fiction books is,
- 1Dive in. Forget the idea of writer’s block. Relax and let your mind and fingers go.
- 2Write outline headings as fast as possible. Make them short. Don’t worry about grammar. Don’t worry if it makes sense. You can fix it later.
- 3Use bullet format in MS Word to easily create headings and sub-headings.
- 4Rearrange headings in a logical order. (Ctrl+up/down arrow moves bullets up or down in Word.)
- 5Leave it at least overnight.
- 6Review it a day or two later with new eyes. Look for and add what might be missing.
- 7Add short, descriptive text under each heading or sub-heading. Do it fast. Correct later.
- 8Let it sit for a few days, then begin to write longer paragraphs. If you need a chart, figure, or graph put in a marker to search for later, for example, <chart: growth rate>. If you need to research something, don't stop writing, insert a marker like, ???name of city. Come back later to fix it. Find markers by opening a search box in MS Word with Ctrl+F.
- 9Return later to dive in and expand on your stream of consciousness writing.
- 10Cut, edit, and cut again.
- 11Hire a professional editor. Software can catch some grammar errors, but it won't catch logical errors or correct poor teaching structure.
Writing Your Cornerstone to Optimize Google Search Ranking
Your cornerstone forms the backbone of your website content. It is critical that when you add your cornerstone to your website you write using keyword phrases similar to the keywords your prospects are searching for.
After you brainstorm and draft an outline of your initial cornerstone use Neil Patel’s Ubersuggest to see the keywords are ranked highly on your competitor’s sites. Ubersuggest is a GREAT free/fee tool.
Another Search Engine Optimization tool with even more capability, and higher price, is SEMrush. I use SEMrush to give super build consulting websites with super-powers.
In the courses we cover additional tools and how to correctly use keyword phrases to improve your ranking and prevent Google from penalizing your website.
Find your competitor's keyword phrases and top blogs
using the online application
Ubersuggest at Neil Patel's Site.
Another, more powerful tool is SEMrush.
You do not have to use the exact keywords and phrases shown in Ubersuggest or other SEO tools. Google is very smart in analyzing language. It understands synonyms and related words and phrases. In fact, you can be penalized for “packing” or “stuffing” web content with keywords. Write so it's readable, but stay on topic.
An Example Draft of an Initial Consulting Cornerstone
Here is an example of a quick, short draft for someone doing strategy and strategic performance consulting for mid-sized business. This draft has three main areas of consulting. Keep your cornerstone to one to three consulting services or your consulting will be too broad.
A rough-draft cornerstone for the work, but not the results, from three service offerings might look like this,
Develop one-line Strategic Statement with exec team
Guide each executive on team to research and present a portion of SWOT
Facilitate executive team in developing Strategic Objectives
Guide team members in crisp write up of Strategic Objectives
Interview department heads
Build inclusiveness of management and teams at all levels
Develop Objective Statements with each department leadership team
Work with management and line leaders on projects, tasks and responsibilities
Key Results and Metrics
Assist dept. heads, managers and line leaders in developing metrics
Work with IT on data definitions, warehouse and dashboards
Teach and document a metrics review process
Periodically review metrics and results
A cornerstone like this might be too large to start your consulting and marketing with, but it gives you a great idea of where you want to start and the directions you want to expand into once you are working in a client.
Having a simple, concise cornerstone like the one above will help you stay focused as you develop the rest of your branding and marketing.
By continuously adding pages and linking blogs to your cornerstone it will become the center focus of your website and make it easy for your readers and Google
to know exactly what you do.
Creating a Client Attracting LinkedIn Profile
As a consultant you must have an excellent LinkedIn profile. A LinkedIn profile is often the first-place business people check to see your authority.
Most LinkedIn profiles do a poor job of presenting a consultant’s capability. They could just as well be a copy-and-paste from a resume or C.V. They tell what you have done rather than what you can do for your clients.
50% of B2B buyers use LinkedIn as a source for their purchase decisions. That is either powerfully for you or against you depending on your LinkedIn profile.
In the following example I have written the LinkedIn profile so it is all about,
How I help people
Who I work with
More about my potential client
If the reader is a prospective client, when they read your LinkedIn profile you want them to feel like they have just found the medicine that will soothe their pain.
Your LinkedIn profile should have a photo with a professional image and a professional or experience-related background. Write and format your experience section with bullets and concise text that addresses your prospect’s biggest questions,
In the Starting a Consulting Business course you can follow along with videos that guide you through each technical step of inserting your photos, cropping and adding backgrounds from thousands of free images, and writing a professional, easy-to-read profile including bullets and indents.
Later you need to learn how you to use your LinkedIn profile as a publishing platform to increase your brand's reach and gravitas. A well-designed LinkedIn profile strengthens your brand, proves your authority, and qualifies leads.
Building the Best Consulting Website
Consultants must have a website. Your website is as critical as your LinkedIn profile. Not only should it illustrate your capabilities with examples, it should also give testimonials that build trust and rapport.
Websites can also be a powerful vehicle for capturing and engaging new leads and prospects.
Consulting Website Design
Independent consultants usually use one of two types of consulting website designs. One is a personality-based website. The other is a business-based website.
A personality-based website can be very simple and highly effective, even if you aren’t Marshall Goldsmith, Simon Sinek, Marie Forleo, or Seth Godin. Personality-based websites are used by many one-person online millionaire businesses where, as the name implies, everything is presented under the brand of the personality.
A business-based consulting website presents a stronger professional image based on your brand and services. Use a business-based website if your market is larger businesses or organizations and if you want to demonstrate multiple consulting specialties, such as, corporate strategy and operational performance.
Structuring Your Website
There is a specific structure and set of menus that work best for consulting websites. Whether you are building your website yourself or through an agency, you should follow proven structures.
Unless you are a recognized author or speaker you will probably find it difficult to rank highly in Google search in the beginning. Most of your visitors will come from personal connection. Even so, it is still important to build a website that highlights your consulting services, shows your authority and builds trust. At the same time, it is critical that you use certain technical features and layouts so that you rank in Google search.
The cornerstone you wrote earlier, and its keyword orientation is important to your website. Later, when you begin automating your marketing, you can expand on the cornerstone and turn it into an engine for your marketing workflow.
In the course we go over multiple consulting website designs. Here is a simple website layout combining elements for personal and professional branding,
Who my clients are
What I do for my clients
Call to Action
Cornerstone – “Ultimate Guide to …”
Simplified cornerstone outlining your services
Call to Action to download the “Ultimate Guide” as a PDF
Who Am I
Build trust with a short “letter to the reader” and signature block
White papers to build authority with opt-ins to collect contact info
Case studies to build trust with opt-ins to collect contact info and segment users
Include another “trust builder” letter from you with personal signature and your photo
Give multiple ways of contacting you
Consulting White Papers
Even with the web and LinkedIn, well-written, attractive white papers and case studies are part of the proof that you are an authority. Each major service described in your cornerstone could be a white paper. For each white paper you should have one to three case studies describing how you have solved the white paper’s problems for a specific industry or situation.
White papers are different from most marketing materials. White papers show serious content and prove your authority. You don’t want it filled with marketing fluff, promises, or extra words. Serious and authoritative!
White papers should be concise and include quotes, proof, and citations from real research. You want the reader to know that you know what you are writing about.
While this makes it sound like white papers should be stuffy and academic, don’t make them that way! You want your prospect to read it.
Don’t make them long. In fact, white papers should be only five to twelve pages. Use a great layout with a lot of white space. Include charts, graphs, and pictures that make your point about solving a specific pain point. You don’t want seven pages of border to border text.
For money well spent,
hire an editor and designer for your white paper
If there was a spot where you wanted to spend a little marketing cash, this is it. Go to UpWork or Toptal or another freelance website and hire an editor to review your copy. (I also use Grammarly, a Microsoft Word plug-in, to cross-check my grammar.) Hire a graphic artist to layout your white paper using Adobe InDesign so it looks attractive and then create a PDF and print it on good quality paper at a print shop.
Eventually you should have a white paper for each of your consulting service offerings.