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July 18, 2008

Building additional bandwidth

Getting your consultancy past the place where you need to be everywhere, do everything, and make every decision; is a point that many will not get through.

Some make a profitable living doing the one-man show thing, they are able to support their investments and their immediate cash-flow requirements; and life is good. Heck, some even make it so successful they work out how to drag down 7 figures a year in that niche.

But if you want to build something that is producing steady income, and something that is saleable, meaning it will work without your efforts, you are going to need additional people.

The effort required to find the next gig while still working through the current role can drain the life from most people. Let alone trying to hire somebody else also. But hey, life wasn’t meant to be easy – particularly if you are building the next Accenture, CapGemini or KPMG.

The key is marketing. No not the expensive ads or magazine spreads, but the more subtle kind; what I term Street Smart marketing.

For the street smart marketer there are a vast number of avenues available. (Full Disclosure: This is not a Blog about marketing.)

In my dim distant past I actually built and sold an internet marketing company for a niche market in a different language. (Don’t try this at home!!) And between that and my consulting work I have found these to be useful and cost effective ways to market services.

Google Adwords will raise awareness. Use it often but not for the big hits. You won’t necessarily generate a sale from Adwords unless you have become pretty sophisticated. (Check out some of the stuff you can do with Google analytics by the way.

Speak often and cheaply. I personally couldn’t see myself making any serious money from speaking. But I generally earn a daily rate and cover my costs. So it is a coup for me as a marketing tool. Sometimes I convert these into immediate client meetings. Other times I make a relationship that will take a few weeks or months to provide anything of value. But I always walk away with something I can bank on sooner or later. (Depends on the conference you attend of course)

Use ReviewMe once a month. A new tool for marketers is the pay-for-post reviews springing up all over the place. This is a great way for bloggers to make some cash, and a good way to get your name out. However, make sure to check the reviews out first. At no time should you go for any reviewer that is just going to write a glowing reference for anyone who pays them. Any mention on a popularly followed Blog (The so-called A-List) is a good marketing tool. Go for the best, pay them, and watch the hits to your site.

Get a great website. Websites are a dime a dozen these days. So you really need to stand out from the crowd. Our site is in continual evolution, but its current incarnation looks pretty professional I think. It will move on from here – no doubt of that.

Become a real expert. Spend money on a professionally designed and produced marketing kit, and tout this with radio stations and news rooms in TV stations. People are always looking for respectable talented individuals with deep domain experience when the news breaks. A guy I used to work for was regularly interviewed in the UK related to physical asset management; it was a great tool for the company.

Cold call. Continually, incessantly, and without respite. Cold calls to companies to make them aware of your capabilities are number one in growing your sphere of influence I have found. No matter what people read on the web, or in magazines, they will always remember the person who called into their office first.

Promotions. Offer potential clients promotional opportunities. For example, on our site right now we are offering a promotion for all recruiters in our LinkedIn group to post their roles on our job board at no charge between now and October. Great for our community, great for the recruiters, and great for getting our name out further into the community of consultants.

Write… a lot! Articles, reports, Blog posts, Blog comments, answers on LinkedIn, books, self-published books, e-books, kindle books whatever! There is a lot of “noise” out there, and it is only getting worse as the information age trundles forward. So you need to get out there and make sure your name is associated with whatever it is that you are offering. NOW!
Informal contacts. Postcard campaigns, bulleting boards at the local malls, mail outs (maybe), flyers on cars, classifieds in newspapers. All useful for getting you in front of people who normally would not see your name or your business.

Classified in newspapers. Still widely read, cheaper now than before for an advertising run and particularly good if you choose your audience and section correctly. If I were offering something of mass appeal (which I don’t) then I personally would love to place something in the Metro in the UK. (For example)

Public courses. Another paid form of marketing, particularly if you get good enough to convert (say) 30% of them into the next on-site step or whatever it is you are looking for.

Staying in touch.
Do not overlook the need to just pick up the phone and call past clients and contacts to see what they are up to and if you could be of use to them at all.

Lets say a new person to help you out is going to cost around $80 - $100 thousand to get on board for the next year. In order to set up enough work to keep them busy at least for the 6 months that you should be able to look ahead, then a rule of thumb is roughly 50%.

That means a spend of between $30 and $50 thousand to generate the up to $100 thousand in additional revenue. And if you use the avenues that I have mentioned above then this should be able to get you a heck of a lot of marketing activity.

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