If you’re a regular reader of our blogs and articles, you’ll no doubt be aware of the overwhelming shift towards an independent working career for many consultants. If you’re a consultant yourself and reading this, then you’re already converted. Great. And how wonderful that opportunity for flexibility, agility, skills development and more. But there is a slightly cloudy side. Along with this tremendous shift in the way we work, comes a larger crowd of competition that follows. Fellow providers with fine-tuned astute skill that are becoming even more focussed on building their own profile and, as a result, now risks putting your own profile into shadow. So how do you rise above the rest? We share a few ways to make your profile stand out from the crowd.
1. Put on your “Real Person” hat
The key to most customers’ hearts is how you are going to solve their problem, make them money or save them money, and where our innate automation drives us to talk about ourselves and how much we’ve achieved, you might find that even doing that is not enough to get noticed. But taking that a step further, and enabling your prospective customer to understand who you are, how you operate, what you’re passionate about is also fundamental to them deciding on whether you’d be a good fit for them or not.
Enabling your prospective customer to immediately be able to visualise their own success through the service you provide, is the first step to getting your foot through their front door.
2. Digital Consistency
In today’s connected world, our digital footprint long precedes any business development conversation. And as the amount of choice increases, so does the amount of research into each individual candidate’s profile and track record. Whether you’re a social media regular, or whether you’re not – ensuring that your digital record (whether that be your own personal website or a LinkedIn profile) is consistent with the service you are trying to promote and sell is critical to instilling a sense of trust as to what is on offer, for your client. If you’re trying to promote the fact that you sell apples, but your digital footprint makes no mention of selling apples, then inconsistency arises. And we all know how that turns out when a client feels conflicted.
Your customer will research you – so why not make it easy for them to build confidence in your skills and expertise?
3. Testimonials & References
People can see through fake instantly. Which is why you, as someone who is looking to rise above the rest, should not only rely on your own message, but, perhaps even more so, also those who promote your message for you. Customer references and testimonials are golden proof points that not only validate what you are selling, but allow the customer to be able to associate themselves with similar types of challenges – again, visualising their own success through the services you deliver.
4. Industry currency
And no, I’m not referring to dollars and pence – I’m talking about how up to date you are on the developments within your customer’s industry and field. Keeping yourself updated on industry trends and developments is the secret key to unlocking a client’s potential. Before you have that first interview phone call, or that first face-to-face meeting with a prospect, you will already have intricate knowledge about the challenges they are up against as an organisation – and although you may not entirely know the detail about what they require, your conversation with them will be founded on industry knowledge, trends and most importantly, opportunity.
5. Track Record
Your prospective customer likes to see that you have been there, and done that. But they don’t only want to hear you telling them so. A great way for your customer to be able to relate to how you have helped others is through a visible display of experience. Whether you feature case studies in your proposal, or whether you simply ensure that you provide enough detail on personal experience directly relevant to your prospective client, you are creating a sense of trust and assurance in what you are able to provide. Speaking to independent consultants regularly, one of the biggest challenges that they face with their clients is that very often, the client is not 100% sure of the solution they need. They know that there’s a problem that needs to be solved, but getting there is a classic wood from the trees scenario. By demonstrating that you have experience in their specific industry or project, enables them to feel comfortable to trust you with the problem, and with the solution that is built in their best interest.
The number 1 classic faux pas when it comes to proposals and pitching for projects, is the dreaded Copy + Paste mentality from one proposal to the next. Whether you are pitching for the very first time, or whether you’re submitting your 100th pitch, your prospective client wants to know that they are different, that they are unique and most of all, that you are 100% dedicated to helping them achieve the success that they are after. There is no point using references and proof of concepts that is completely irrelevant to your client. If you’re using imagery, use imagery that relates to your client. If you’re using quotations and copy, make it relevant to your client. If you’re using references, testimonials and case studies, make it relevant to your client. You are, after all, wanting them to choose you over your counterpart – so give them a reason to feel that you are the perfect fit for what they need.
For more tips about how to market yourself as an independent consultant, don’t miss our next broadcast taking place on Tuesday 2 May at 16:30 BST.
About the Author
Katy is an independent marketing consultant and founded Fresh Brew Marketing out of her love for the cuppa. A seasoned marketer, Katy writes for several global publications and provides outsourced marketing services to businesses throughout the UK. She is a keen geocacher and rates running around in city centres dressed in Christmas lights as one of her most successful Social Media campaigns to date.More Content by Katy Roberts