In 1998, I became a “consultant.” What that means in plain language is that I wasn’t working for a corporation anymore and that I had to find work to make money. Since the only requirement for being a consultant was knowing a lot about a particular topic, it seemed the obvious way to go.
But that wasn’t enough.
Saying that you’re a consultant in any niche isn’t enough to make the phone ring. You’re going to need a little sizzle to sell that steak.
When I went out on my own, I had the luxury of having saved up some cash and you know what I did with it? I wasted it. I spent my money on things that did nothing to get me customers. Today, I’m going to show you the 10 steps I took to get a consulting job that cost me nothing and attracted outstanding, loyal and profitable customers.
These aren’t as sexy as having a cool logo or website. They aren’t as easy as placing ads, but they are by far what works every single time I want cash to come through the door.
I’ll tell you right now — the first four steps will feel like training for and running a mental marathon. But the rewards are truly worth the time and effort, so I urge you to:
Find Your Pond
One of the first things I did when I started my consulting business was go to networking events. I saw dozens of “insurance providers”, “financial advisors” and a ton of other generic sales people. Everyone was focusing on their product or service and no one was focusing on a specific niche.
Here’s an easy way to define a niche. A niche is any group of people who — (insert your topic here) — own Chihuahuas , sell products online, run marathons, read mysteries, etc. When you find your niche this way, the rest of the steps become infinitely easier.
Define Your Offer
Who would you rather work with? A trainer or a marathon trainer.
I know nothing about running marathons, but if I decided to run one, I’d definitely go with a marathon trainer because I can imagine that they will focus on everything I need to do to run a marathon: food, exercise, even tricks and hacks to leverage my training.
Notice that we’ve gone beyond exercise here and we’re focusing on everything having to do with marathons. This is a key distinction between products and services and offers.
Offers are whole and complete. They are a package of deliverables and experiences. An irresistible offer delivers a complete experience in a desired way for a price that feels like a great deal.
Identify Your Ideal Customer
Who is the person that values what you do more highly and needs what you do most desperately? Sticking with our marathon example, you might choose first-time marathon runners.
Notice that your ideal customer is different than a niche; it’s a further focus on the specific value that you provide and for whom.
Develop a Message
This is the component that attracts your ideal clients to you. Your message contains a description of the niche and the ideal client.
The next component of the message includes a declaration of the problems that you address, how your ideal client thinks they solve the problem and how you believe the problem is solved.
Write all of this down and make this a part of who you are and the contribution that you provide to clients.
Identify a Relevant Group of Insiders
You’re going to need help to hone your message and get that message out. This is where your insiders serve a purpose.
Your insiders are friends, family and the folks who are part of your professional community who serve as enthusiastic referrers.
Identify Potential Partners
Partners are the people who are associated with your area of expertise. In the marathon trainer example, these might be doctors, other trainers, dietitians, rec centers, etc.
Build Relationships with Influencers
Influencers are people who serve as trusted advisors to your ideal customers. I like to say that when an influencer says the sky is falling, your ideal customers run for cover — just because they said so.
Your goal is to make these influencers a part of your community and be in conversation with them.
Create a Structured Conversation Around Your Consulting
How many times have you mumbled and bumbled something when someone asks you about what you do? I’m sorry, but 30-second commercials don’t really do the trick.
A better way is to create a list of Frequently Asked Questions and answer them. Be sure to include case studies, stories and examples that illustrate how your process works and what the payoff is for your clients. You can also use this in your LinkedIn summary or on your website.
Use these as your talking points in every conversation.
Have At Least 2 Conversations a Day
Armed with your message, modules and examples, you are ready to spread your message either via calls, social media, or face-to-face conversations.
Aim for at least two conversations a day with insiders, partners and influencers. You’ll be amazed at the opportunities you’ll uncover.
Stay On Message
It will feel like you are constantly repeating yourself. And you will be. But remember, it takes at least seven “touches” for your message to register. So it will be “new” to those with whom you are talking. DO NOT stray from your message — it will confuse people.
Don’t just do these ten things once. Practice them daily. These are the foundation for any tactic that you’d like to use.
As a consultant, your primary goal is to establish credibility and character in your niche. You can do that by:
- Running webinars
- Writing how-to articles
- Sharing resources
- Answering questions in Facebook groups
- Tweeting articles and resources that support your philosophy
With technology evolving and new tools launching daily, you’ll be ready to pick any platform and share your message if you have these 10 points to get a consulting job at the ready.
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