8. Marketing Your Consulting Services for a Full Pipeline
Your automated marketing machine can attract leads, engage and nurture prospects and even qualify leads for you while you work with clients or take vacation. You must have a marketing machine for consulting success.
If You Don't Market Continuously,
You Will Fall into the Feast-or-Famine Cycle!
Consultants without an automated marketing machine spend approximately 30% of their time marketing. If they fall behind on their “personal marketing” they fall into the hell of the infamous Feast-or-Famine cycle.
As a consultant your marketing machine should not require a lot of technology. While information marketers create astounding “marketing automation systems” you don’t need to go that far as a consultant. However, you do need to design, prove and build systems that leverage your work and magnify your marketing. Do it once, prove it works, then automate it.
Start Filling Your Pipeline, then Build a Marketing Machine
If you don’t have clients or a good number of prospects in your pipeline, then DON’T start building the marketing machines in Stage 5. Scan this chapter to see the road ahead but don’t depend on a marketing machine to quickly fill your pipeline and close clients. To initially fill your pipeline, go back to Stage 4, How to Get Consulting Clients Quickly.
The prospect list you build with automated marketing
is the foundation for multiple streams of income.
A good marketing machine works constantly but could take six months to a year to really start cranking out prospects. To grow a thriving business that gives you a great income and independence you need a combination of Stage 4, How to Get Consulting Clients Quickly, and Stage 7, Marketing Your Consulting Services.
If you are just starting your consulting business or struggling to fill your pipeline, you need to use the techniques in Stage 4. This takes feet-on-the-ground work, not automation.
If you are just starting you can still use the information in Stage 5 to,
Key Parts of Your Marketing Machine
Don't attempt to build an entire marketing machine all at once. The best process is to try different marketing methods, see which works best, and then automate the marketing that works.
Don't attempt to build an entire marketing machine all at once.
Run marketing programs manually. Prove which works best,
then build a marketing machine.
It could take you a year or more to build some marketing machines. The essential components of marketing machines are,
These are core components, like the bricks in a building. You can build almost anything with them, but you don’t need them all at once.
The most valuable component of your marketing is your prospect list. Your list is the gold mine that yields future clients.
Don’t automate right away.
Marketing manual until you prove
what works best.
One thing that is important is to choose software that gives you flexibility for future choices. It’s better to start simply and migrate to the more complex. Initially you can start marketing with a simple and inexpensive website, blog, email list, and newsletter software.
Don't be trapped in using one software application. For example, after a year or two you may have hundreds of blogs on your website. If you choose the wrong platform for your website it will be extremely difficult to move your blogs to a different platform.
The Cornerstone: Your Key to Aligning, Leveraging, and Magnifying Your Work
Google ranks one website structure more highly than others. Using the tree-like, cornerstone structure described earlier ranks your website higher in Google. This structure also makes it easy for your human readers to understand what you do and how you do it.
Cornerstones are a secret to ranking highly on Google. Gurus such as Neil Patel and Brian Dean and leading sites such as Yoast and Digital Marketer use cornerstones for each major service or product.
A cornerstone does more than help you rank in Google. A cornerstone keeps your consulting services and marketing content from wandering from your core. Consultants whose websites lose focus are ranked lower on Google.
This “information architecture” reinforces the strength of your topics to Google. It also makes it easy for readers to understand your services and helps keep you focused so you don’t write content focused on your consulting services.
In the Starting and Building a Thriving Consulting Business course members learn how to use free tools to build the structure, topics, and keywords that will rank their website higher and make it easier for people to use.
In Stage 3 you saw how to draft a simple cornerstone with two or three levels of outline depth. You might have also added a paragraph of description after each heading or sub-heading.
In Stage 3 the cornerstone example was written about your consulting services. Now, in Stage 7 you will want to expand your cornerstone to include your consulting services and the value it produces. Here is an example of the expanded cornerstone from Stage 3,
Purpose of Corporate Strategy
Mission, Vision, Values
Strength, Weakness, Opportunities and Threats
Porter’s Five Forces Model
Industry and Demographic Trends
Purpose of Objectives Aligned on Strategy
Defining Key Results
Inclusion of Ideas at All Levels
Execution and Management
Key Results and Metrics
Purpose of Measurement and Feedback
Industry Standard Metrics
Data Display and Review
Over time you can add a few pages, not blogs, to each heading and sub-heading in your cornerstone. Each blog should link to an appropriate heading in the cornerstone.
With this cornerstone as an architecture you could write a library full of blogs, speeches and articles and they would be aligned with your service offering. The important thing is that you would be writing on topics that are part of your consulting services using a structure that Google will rank higher.
Leveraging and Magnifying Workflow and Content
When you imagine all the different types of content you need to market your first thought is probably, “I’ll never have time for consulting.” There is a solution.
What you need is a way to leverage and magnify your workflow and content.
You need a system that leverages and magnifies
your workflow and marketing.
I teach my students to use the cornerstone as a guide for their marketing content. The cornerstone also become a mine from which you can pull a lot of content for other purposes.
The cornerstone is like a map of the content you want in your blogs and lead magnets. It keeps your topics aligned with your consulting services. A cornerstone’s headings or sub-headings can become the topic for marketing content: white papers, speeches, blogs, newsletters and LinkedIn articles.
When you write a page under a cornerstone heading it’s very easy to take your content and research and expand it into a blog, a speech, and presentation slides. Combine them together and you have a Kindle book or webinar.
A cornerstone keeps your content aligned so you can leverage one asset into multiple pieces of content or marketing campaigns, like this,
By linking back to the original source with internal links you can magnify your ranking in Google.
Structuring Your Website Around Your Cornerstone
In Stage 3 you wrote a cornerstone that briefly described your consulting services. In Stage 4 you used that as part of your initial website. Now, in Stage 5 you should expand your cornerstone pages to become the structural hub and guide for all your marketing content.
Your cornerstone should be the structural hub and guide for all your marketing content.
Don’t stop consulting and filling your pipeline to write your cornerstone.
Start with a skinny outline like the example earlier in this stage. Then add a page (not a blog) under each heading. Continue to extend and expand over time. It might take you six months to a year to get a 50+ page cornerstone. What matters to your readers and Google is that you got it done.
Linking Content Internally
You want all marketing content, like blogs, to link back to the appropriate heading or sub-heading in the cornerstone on your website. This way Google can find the original source and see the main headings of your cornerstone. This helps your cornerstone headings rank higher in Google.
As you add blogs, podcasts, reports, or videos to your website you should link them to the appropriate page in your cornerstone, but never duplicate content.
Google loves it when you update and add to content. What it will downgrade your website for is having multiple blogs, pages, or articles about the same topic. In effect, Google gets confused when it sees the same topic on different pages and blogs. It doesn’t know which to rank higher on your site. What you want to do is extend a topic on the topic's main page or post by adding more detail.
Building Your Consulting Website
A well-built website and your LinkedIn profile are the foundations of your consulting marketing. While you can do "part-time consulting" with just a LinkedIn profile, you need a well-constructed website to present a clear image of the value you bring to clients and to capture leads using your automated marketing machine.
In the Starting and Building a Thriving Consulting Business course you learn how to use free tools to find the top ranked keywords, blog topics and competitors. These are critical in your cornerstone.
Another critical consideration for your website is whether you want to use a content management system you control, such as WordPress, or you want to use a platform that handles the technical details.
If you use WordPress it gives you incredible flexibility but requires technical skills or outsourcing. If you use a platform, technical issues are taken care of by the provider, but the website’s capabilities are not as robust and you might not be able to migrate your website content to another platform.
Here’s a few of the important considerations,
Enter your text here...
Normally referred to as "WordPress” this is free software you download from WordPress.org and run on your own host.
It is the most widely used web software in the world.
WordPress.com, Weebly, Wix, SquareSpace
WordPress is free but custom development, domain hosting and some plug-ins cost.
Minimal cost. Annual or monthly fees.
Site hosting paid separately. Good hosts will install WordPress free for you.
Site hosting is included.
Custom Features and Capabilities
Unlimited. Seems like everyone has thought of everything you will ever need, but choose highly used and rated plug-ins.
Your site is lumped with all other sites on the platform. You have no control over Google ranking.
Marketing Automation and Customer Database
Simple to very powerful add-on software available. This software is separate and can be expensive.
Simple capability may be included. Some platforms allow integration with automation and CRM applications.
Unlimited. Easy to very difficult.
Easy, but limited to features designed into platform.
Plug-ins are used to migrate content. Many different content backup systems available. If you are inexperienced, get help from the receiving host or platform.
Most platforms make it difficult to move your content, like blogs, to another platform or system. If you pick the wrong platform to start with you may be locked in.
Basics are straightforward. Hundreds, if not thousands of free YouTube videos and sites, but it will take time to learn.
Training libraries included with demo sites.
Many free or low-cost themes available.
Platforms come with libraries of pre-defined themes. You can modify
Learning Management Systems (courses)
LearnDash is an excellent, fully customizable WordPress plug-in created by an expert in learning design.
Link out to a courseware system like Teachable or Thinkific.
Website Platform Recommendation
If you are solo and don’t have the extra time to learn WordPress or you don’t want to spend the money for someone to set it up, then it is probably better to NOT start with WordPress.
Other platforms, like Weebly, Wix or Squarespace, create good looking websites and are easier to use than WordPress. You can pick a layout template, paste in content and have a website in one day. Adding blogs takes little more than typing and importing images. (I recommend doing all your writing in Microsoft Word or Google Docs and then pasting into your blog.)
Make sure you buy your own domain name.
Do not use a domain owned by the platform.
While all the platforms have nice layouts and themes, Squarespace is more technically difficult to work with and Wix makes it very difficult to move your content to another system.
Use Weebly when you start.
You can get a good-looking site up quickly,
then migrate later to WordPress.
I recommend using Weebly when you start your consulting business. You will be able to publish your website cornerstone pages and blogs quickly and display them in a great layout and theme. That will give you time to fill your pipeline and then work on your marketing.
An important advantage to Weebly is that it is easier to export your content to WordPress when you want to upgrade and expand your website’s capabilities.
As your consulting grows you may want to migrate to WordPress. Here is why,
I receive no affiliate fees for any of these products. I just know that as an ex-UberGeek I spent too much time in WordPress when I could have spent that time on consulting, marketing and content. (I did enjoy it as a hobby.)
On the other hand, I know the WordPress SEO tricks I’m showing you here work well because of the results on my original WordPress site supporting my clients, Chief Marketing Officers and marketing analyst. My site normally had 70,000 views per month, and it was just a hobby to support my clients.
Own Your Domain and Email Names
Make sure you own your domain name. Some providers will “rent” you a domain name, but it remains under their service and cannot go with you if you move your website.
With your own domain you can use the name with WordPress or any other platform and create your own email, for example, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Having your own domain name is critical to looking like a real consulting business and not a “fly by night” that will disappear.
I recommend also having a Gmail account with a similar business name, for example,
A Gmail account gives you the ability to use certain LinkedIn “secret” techniques we cover in the course. It may also be easier for you to access while traveling in foreign countries.
Lead Magnets that Attract Ideal Clients
Attracting loads of people to your consulting website and having them thrust their email address on you is a great ego booster, but that should not be your objective.
To build your consulting business you want to attract and qualify people who fit your Client Profile. You want to build a list of ideal prospects.
A large email list is great for your ego,
but a quality email list is great for your wallet.
To capture a reader's email address, create a two-way value exchange. You need to create an offer they can’t refuse, for example, a checklist or mind map of tips on how to solve one of their pains.
When an opt-in box pops up on your website giving them a chance to enter their email address in exchange for your tips, they feel like it’s a good exchange. You not only get their email address for future mailings your tips also show your expertise.
Remember in Stage 2 where you went to Google, Quora, Meetups, and forums to learn the pains and needs in your niche? This is another place where you will use what you learned about the client’s biggest pains.
Lead magnets are usually a small offer like a cheat sheet, mind map, checklist, or tips that quickly soothe or fix a pain. It offers the reader some value in exchange for their email address. You might also see lead magnets called Opt-In Offers. They are small tasty morsels that hold out the hope of quickly solving a single pain.
Do not make a large generic lead magnet.
Make a point solution to a specific pain.
In most cases your lead magnet should not be large or complex. If you are building your list you want it to be “snackable” so people quickly grab it. Keep it short like a cheat sheet. Until readers trust your authority, they won’t really take the time to go through an in-depth lead magnet.
The exceptions to the idea of short and “snackable” are “Ultimate Guides” and white papers. These are high value to the target audience and usually require commitment to read. “Ultimate Guides” are often cornerstones published as PDFs. Ultimate Guides show your site visitors you really are an expert, as well as boosting your Google ranking. White papers can be of such high value to the targeted audience they often have a long opt-in form including full name, title, and phone number.
Lead magnets should give a quick,
concise answer to a specific problem.
Once you have captured your reader’s email address your email system can engage your visitor with a sequence of newsletters, blog links and offers that build trust, build your authority, and move them closer to working with you as a client.
Connecting and Nurturing with Email Sequences
You can manually send emails to your prospect list, but after a few months of networking and marketing you would have no time for anything else.
What you need is an email service that includes autoresponders. Autoresponders automatically send emails and email sequences when someone opts-in to your email list.
Students in the Course Save a Tremendous Amount of Time Starting with the Email and LinkedIn Scripts and Templates
The first email sequence you need is for Welcoming and Onboarding. This goes to new people who opt-in to your email list. They get a Welcome email, instructions on how to White List your emails so they aren’t sent to spam, Onboarding to learn the benefits of your emails, and then they are sent to a nurturing sequence of weekly or bi-monthly emails.
Once someone is in your email list you can send them emails to keep them engaged and to let them know about events. Of course, it’s a great way to stay in their mind for consulting.
With an email autoresponder, you will want to,
Another alternative as your business grows is marketing automation software. This software runs intelligent systems that send sequences of emails depending upon a customer’s profile. It can modify emails and change responses depending on the prospect’s response.
A great benefit of marketing automation software is that you can track or “tag” readers who click on specific topics. This lets you keep a database of what they are interested in. (If you work with clients in Europe you need to notify users you are doing this in accordance with GDPR laws.)
Engaging and Nurturing Prospects with Newsletters and Blogs
Email nurturing sequences, newsletters, and blogs can work together to help you engage with your prospects and clients. And, reduce your workload.
Your email, newsletters, and blogs keep you in your client's minds, if your content is of value. You want to be the first person they think of when they face the problems you solve.
You want to be the first person your
prospect thinks of
when they face problems you solve.
Posting an informative blog to your site on Wednesday night followed by sending an email Thursday morning with a synopsis and link to that blog let’s everyone know of new content. If you can tag people on your list, you can selectively send different emails and newsletters to different people.
There are many different types of blogs. It’s a great idea to create email and blog templates you can use repeatedly to save yourself time and get your readers used to a specific format. The course covers many blog types and templates to make writing easier.
Here are some of the most common blog types,
Description & Example
Top # List Posts
Lists of the top # items with links in a category. For example,
List Posts are quick and easy to write. Make sure you actually evaluate what you recommend, or you could damage your credibility.
Review key articles for your niche and write a synopsis with citation.
Don’t just write a synopsis, show your expertise by adding your insights, pros and cons, additional tips, additional resources, and how to execute the ideas.
How- To Posts
Explain step-by-step how to do something.
Use numbered steps, images, and videos to clarify your explanation.
Checklist posts are easy for exerts to create but highly valuable for new practitioners.
Checklists not only make you feel more confident they save lives. Ask any pilot or surgeon.
Connecting and Publishing on LinkedIn
You already know from Stage 3, Promoting Your Consulting Business, that LinkedIn is the world’s largest database of professionals and business people. That means you must have a great profile on LinkedIn.
Did you also know you can publish to your target audience on LinkedIn?
The Starting and Building a Thriving Consulting Business course takes new and experienced consultants step-by-step through all the methods of targeting and magnifying your publishing with LinkedIn.
Publish to your target audience and
groups on LinkedIn.
As a consultant you can leverage Linkedin multiple ways. It’s like having your own custom publishing house and mailing list. You can publish to a broad audience, hopefully building your brand, or you can publish to people that are similar to your Client Profile. You can create links to go from LinkedIn posts to LinkedIn articles that then put people into your email and newsletter nurture sequences.
Here are a few ways you can use LinkedIn as a consultant,
With the right techniques you can magnify and focus
your LinkedIn publishing by automatically
repeating post sequences to your target audience.
LinkedIn allows you to publish two types of content for free, articles and posts. Think of articles as multi-screen magazine-like articles. Like a magazine they are usually not in-depth, but instead cover the general scope of a topic. Doing a 1,500 to 2,000-word article on one of the main headings in your cornerstone is a great. Don’t forget to include links from the article to your profile and relevant content on your site.
Articles are excellent for adding authority to your profile. For example, you may want to rewrite some of your white papers as shorter articles and post them as PDFs under your profile.
Your visibility and authority on LinkedIn increase when you share and publish articles and posts. The articles you publish show under your profile. The figure below shows an article published on LinkedIn by Leslie Lawton, a copywriter and creative director in the San Francisco Bay Area. She specializes in working with companies and BCorps that are creating a better world. On LinkedIn, clicking the article or a shared post in this section takes you to the article or to a connecting link.
You also can publish PDFs and white papers to increase your audience awareness and authority. Sheella Mierson is a consultant who helps biopharma and tech companies build cultures of collaboration.
At the bottom of Sheella Mierson’s profile are PDFs and website links that expand on her work building creative collaboration in high tech, biotech, and non-profit companies.
Narrowcasting with Webinars
In the real world you can start your own Meetup groups, host professional dinners, or just go have afternoon coffee with your peers and prospects. You can do the same online and turn it into a marketing engine. (You will have to get your own coffee or dinner.)
If you do very niche consulting, this is a good marketing engine. As you become more niched your clients find it harder to get information and they are more geographically disbursed. This makes an online gathering of peers even more valuable.
Pick a time when people in most of the time zones you serve can spend 30 to 60 minutes online. In the USA, Wednesday or Thursday afternoons are good. Mondays and Tuesdays everyone is too busy.
You don’t need expensive, high-tech webinar software to do this. You can setup a private Zoom conference system for $15 a month for up to 100 participants and have it recorded.
Leveraging Work with Scripts and Templates
Writing welcoming messages, email nurturing sequences, LinkedIn messages, and weekly newsletters is just too much for one consultant, but you need them to attract and nurture leads and prospects.
The best way to handle this overload is create scripts and templates and then modify them as needed. Write samples, test them, and then just use and modify the templates that work best.
Consultants who take the Starting and Building a Thriving Consulting Business course can jump-start their marketing using the library of proven headlines, scripts, and templates included with the course. These scripts and templates engage and nurture visitors, build strong relationships, and convert readers into clients.