We have already talked about the importance of doing quality work and turning existing clients into evangelists who will give you a glowing recommendation.
The fact remains, however, that you cannot rely exclusively on referrals if you want to make consistent income as a consultant. You will need to get out there and find new clients as you build your business.
This is an area of the business that many new consultants struggle with because they sometimes this cold-calling is the only logical next step. Nothing could be further from the truth. Finding new clients can actually be a very fun and rewarding experience. Like anything else, you will have to get creative and find ways that work best for you. But in this section of the guide, we will share some of the most effective ways to reach out and find new prospective clients for your consulting business:
Networking – In Section 8, we talked about the power of “schmoozing” potential clients and getting to know people who may require your services. Networking is one of the most important business practices you will ever partake in. Make sure that you make a point of regularly attending networking events where you get the opportunity to connect with other business owners. Don’t sell at these events, just make as many people aware of who you are as possible. You never know who you might get introduced to!
Online Advertising – Show your prospective buyers that you believe in what you sell. Buying ads on networks like Google and Facebook allow you to create advertisements that are targeted to local companies and make local offers. You can get started with ad campaigns for $20 and be up and running in a few hours. You very well may a potential buyer!
Offline Advertising – While some of your prospects already spend time on Facebook and Google, many of them are too busy “out in the field” running their business. So online advertising would never reach this crowd. These people do read newspapers and magazines. In smaller cities, a display ad in a newspaper can purchased for a reasonable price. This is a traditional method of marketing but it could very well still work for your consulting business.
Mail – Traditional direct response mailing (ie postcards) or custom mailing can be a good way to find clients. Your local post office likely has an arrangement in place for sending flyers to local businesses. You might also want to target certain companies and send hand written letters to the primary decision makers in the company. When the letter looks personalized and hand written, there is a very good chance it will be opened and read by the person.
Email – Cold calling is something that is not even being suggested in this list because there are more effective ways of getting ahold of clients. Sending cold email, however, is something to take note of. With email, you have the ability to research a company ahead of time and do some fact finding. Look for a company where you truly believe you can deliver serious value to. Then put together an email introducing yourself and quickly mentioning some of the potential benefit you see THEM achieving with a better online strategy. Follow up with a phone call a few days later if you do not get an email response.
Press Release – You can sometimes get free media coverage if you have a story that is of interest to enough people. If you specialize in some kind of consulting service and you have an interesting story that relates to your speciality, try submitting the story to local newspapers. Having a story in print might get an offline company calling you directly as there is perceived credibility attached to your name since you have been published in the paper.
Craigslist – This may seem like a dated solution but the truth of the matter is Craigslist is still one of the busiest sites online. Many businesses go on Craigslist looking for help with different needs in their business. Make sure you keep your finger on the pulse of what is happening on Craigslist weekly.
Introductory Service – Consider visiting companies in person but not with the intention of selling. Offer a free flyer for their waiting room with “Social Media Safety Tips” (as an example) or offer to take a photo of their office and use it to create a Twitter account for their company (as another example). Literally make a point of selling nothing but deliver value first. Now they know who you are and will be more receptive to invites/requests in the future.
Directory Service – Create an online directory or blog that profiles local businesses in the area. Offer a free listing to the companies that you would like to target for your consulting services. Once they see how nice their free listing looks, they will be much more receptive to hearing about what you can offer in terms of your consulting.