One of the biggest challenges for any consultant working online is acquiring and developing relationships with new clients. Without the benefit of a face to face interaction, you have to rely on the tools freely available online, and for those on a budget, it’s even harder.
How do you get your name out there, grow your consulting business, and generate revenue without spending a fortune on ads or overly complex marketing strategies?
Don't get too frustrated, because you CAN do it!Click To TweetWhen you dig into what your prospects really need and the biggest opportunities for a consultant online, there are a number of low-cost ways to market your efforts. Here are some of the best:
Create a Series of Authority Content for YouTube or SlideShare
As a business consultant, your first challenge is to attract attention while showcasing your expertise. Just running ads wouldn’t be enough anyway because they don’t show people that you know how to do what you’re claiming you know.
In reality, the single greatest investment you can make as a consultant is in yourself.
The more you know and the more you show off what you know, the better results you’ll have.
Offering free content to prospective visitors to your website isn’t a new tactic, but as a consultant, you can use it with a few tweaks to really drive interest to your brand.
First, you need to find traffic. The vast majority of how-to and business traffic ends up in three places – YouTube, LinkedIn, and SlideShare.
Let’s forget LinkedIn for a minute because the amount of effort and time that goes into managing a social presence is extensive. Instead, focus on YouTube and SlideShare where content does the talking.
Create content that represents the best that you have to offer. A PPT presentation of your most effective tips or a talking-head video of you discussing some of the common questions you get related to your field. By offering this content for free in high traffic channels, you’ll generate free traffic that you can then leverage into potential clients.
Co-Sponsor Content with Industry Related Partners
The first tip above is very effective for consultants in particular because your biggest asset is your expertise.
But what if it’s not enough? What if there are a lot of other highly experienced people in your field and you can’t break through the noise?
This is where a lot of consultants get frustrated because the only way it seems they can get their message heard is to pay for it. But there is another way. Rather than dumping a truckload of money on the problem, consider partnering with someone who’s already done it.
Find a partner in an industry that serves the same clientele like you and work with them.
This is why you’ll always receive recommendations for attorneys and mortgage officers when you contract with a realtor. They work together to share leads, develop co-branded content, and help each other grow their businesses. They have the same clients but don’t compete.
Find those opportunities in your industry and reach out to them about creating online content together. Imagine distributing your video series or SlideShare presentation to someone else’s list of 10,000 prospects.
Host a Local or Online Event or Class Related to Your Offer
Here’s another very effective way to showcase just how much you know and how you can help people with their businesses.
Host a local or online event or class that offers something unique to your target audience. The best part is that this doesn’t cost you anything except your time.
Local colleges, business associations, rotary groups, and businesses are always looking for people to offer value at their regular events. Reach out to them with a brief summary of what you can offer and you can almost certainly gather a group of people together.
A good event or class is one that focuses 100% on providing value to your attendees. What can you offer that they need? Tips for accounting strategies? How to incorporate it in a certain state? The secret to effective digital marketing?
Whatever your expertise entails, focus on that first and foremost and worry about the hard sell later – if you offer real value to people who need it, they’ll take notice.
The best part is that this same presentation can then be used as a webinar online or recorded as part of a free video you offer to email subscribers.
Give Free Advice to Top Decision Makers
As a consultant, your goal is to work with the biggest companies in the industry, but getting in front of those companies’ decision-makers is not an easy process.
It takes time, persistence, and a bit of luck.
But there are some quick and easy tips you can use to hack your way into the inbox of the people who you really want to work with.
First, realize that you’ll need to do a bit of work here. Sending a cold email or calling someone’s receptionist hoping to get through the gatekeeper is a low percentage play.
Instead, start by doing the work in advance. Without prompting, perform an audit of a company you want to work with. Look at what they are doing right and wrong and write up a series of recommendations.
Neil Patel famously published these online blog posts when he first started his marketing agency early in his career. It leads to numerous engagements with large companies that he never could have spoken to directly.
If you’re nervous about putting that much information out there, consider sending an email.
You’d be surprised how many people will respond to such a highly customized, engaging email about their brand.
Sponsor a Local or Online Charity
Finally, don’t underestimate the value of the name association.
As a child, how many different business names did you wear on your jersey in youth soccer, baseball, or football leagues? How often did you see business names on the side of your gym or at local fairs or events?
Small businesses have been sponsoring and engaging with local charities and efforts for decades because it works.
People associate that name with good works and when they need what they offer, there is trust already seeded. Plus you can do something good for the community.
Do the same for your consulting efforts, but make sure to target them carefully. Look for a charity or local effort that meshes with your business goals. It should be focused on a professional community, possibly related to the local chamber of commerce or a local business group.
Consider sponsoring a local Future Business Leads of America group or a 4H club. Sponsor a charity or scholarship fund for underprivileged teens to go to college. Find something that matches with your goals. Better yet, volunteer to help these groups reach their goals. This costs you nothing but time and allows you to not only seed goodwill, but work with people directly.
Continuing to Grow Your Consulting Efforts at a Low Cost
As a business consultant, you have an advantage few other small business owners have – your own expertise. When your largest asset is you, it’s easier to promote your background and knowledge without having to spend a fortune.
Whether marketing online videos or building new business through outreach and networking offline, you can promote your efforts at a low cost using the tips above.