Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. You may recognise this old nugget of wisdom that has seemingly been around forever. The truth is, it has only been around since about 1917 and scientists tend to dispute the old saying.
How did the saying become so popular? And how is it that breakfast cereal, something that didn’t exist before 1863, came to be so strongly associated with what we should be having for breakfast?
The answer is simple: marketing.
A good marketing campaign can solidify a product or service in the mind of the consumer. While the best marketing campaigns are often run by giant multinational companies with a huge amount of financial backing, that doesn’t mean marketing is not a worthwhile endeavour for a smaller company.
Marketing is a way of getting the word out to the right people. Absolutely zero marketing equals absolutely zero customers. After all, if no one knows about what you’re selling, how would they know if they want to pay you for it?
Let’s take a look at some strategies you can employ to market your consultancy.
Company Blog & Content
A good way to demonstrate your company’s expertise on a subject is through regular blog posts and articles (like this one!). As long as you’re posting content that is relevant to your target market, a blog adds some credibility to your business in that it shows you understand the industry you’re working in. This is even more effective if the articles you post are genuinely useful to the reader. This, in addition to providing the information for ‘free’ as a gesture of goodwill may just get people interested in what you have to offer. As they say: “content is king”.
You don’t have to churn out 4,000 word articles everyday. In fact, quality wins out over quantity. If you only have the resources to write one really good 2,000 word article a week, do that instead of diluting your brand name with poor quality blog posts.
And this goes beyond blogs! Youtube videos, podcasts, and webinars all fall under the massive umbrella that is content marketing.
A company that does content marketing extremely well is Red Bull. From the Felix Baumgartner space jump to The Athlete Machine you see above, almost all of Red Bull’s videos gain millions of views and go viral.
While you probably don’t have the resources Red Bull does, keep an eye on what the big brands are doing with content marketing. General Electric, Old Spice, John Deere, and Patagonia are all creating amazing content marketing campaigns.
Social Media Presence
Having an active social media presence is pretty much a prerequisite for most large companies these days. It has even created a new job type, which is a testament to the importance placed on this function by large companies.
So what does being active entail?
Post links relevant to your industry, comment on relevant news items and link to blog posts and new products or services that your company is offering. There is the chance for particularly funny tweets or posts to go viral, which really raises awareness for your company (but don’t force it! Trying too hard comes off inauthentic at best, and mockable at worst – then you’ll go viral for the wrong reasons).
An active social media presence is a double-edged sword though, especially for larger companies. Customers frequently use social media as an outlet to complain, so proceed with caution on this one. If you’re going to be active on social media, monitor your name with a tool like Google Alerts or Hootsuite. A social listening strategy ensures nothing catches you off guard.
Cold calling, technically speaking, is more of a sales tactic than a marketing tactic. It’s universally hated (almost nobody enjoys receiving a cold call!) and yet still widely used.
There are multiple reasons to this. One of those reasons is that cold calling does actually work sometimes, and sometimes is often better than never. Another reason that companies employ cold calling as part of their marketing is for the sake of variety. Placing all your eggs in one marketing basket is very risky, so some diversification ensures that your message reaches more people.
The biggest reason, however, is that when done right, cold calling works extremely well. A purely cold call has a success rate of 1-3%. A cold call with a referral, on the other hand, has a success rate of almost 40% – and that number jumps even higher when the referral comes from someone within the same company.
Let’s do some simple maths. Assuming you have 1,000 contacts to cold call, you’re looking at getting maybe 30 appointments (and who knows if that 30 is worth anything, but that’s a different topic). But if you drill down and really do your homework, you narrow that 1,000 contacts into 250 prospects. Then you do further research, finding information and mutual acquaintances who can make an introduction between you and most of the people on that list of 250. This approach will generally yield 75-100 qualified, good prospects – and they’re more likely to buy from you.
In the case of cold calling, more is not necessarily better. A shotgun, one-size-fits-all approach is an unpleasant experience for both parties, and it distracts you from the important prospects – the ones who will buy.
Yes, good old advertising. The internet has opened up a whole host of new ways to advertise, from Google Adwords to YouTube sponsorships and even traditional television and radio ads (although the latter two can be considerably more expensive).
Pay-per-click (PPC) advertisements – not to be confused with its more expensive and considerably more useless sibling, pay-per-impression – span from Google Adwords, the Google Display Network, Bing, and Facebook. The best part about PPC advertising is that you reach the people you want, whenever you want and wherever you want. Some 41% of clicks go to the top 3 paid ads on the search results page of Google, and on average, businesses make $2 for every $1 they spend on advertising.
It works because like cold-calling, PPC advertisements are targeted. On most networks, you can narrow down your audience to some very specific details. A consultancy in Minnesota has no need to advertise to students in Bangladesh (unless, of course, that’s what you’re trying to do). It keeps costs down, and lets you fine-tune your advertisements to target the exact problems your clients are trying to solve.
YouTube sponsorship also has some targeted potential in that you can sponsor the video of a YouTuber who has an audience that falls within your target demographic. How do you know what the YouTuber’s audience demographic is? Go ahead and ask them. Google provides all of those analytics.
While YouTube sponsorships and Google Adwords can target relevant people quite well, there is a more direct method. Direct mail involves sending an email (or even physical mail) to potential clients. The list of clients you send to would ideally be exactly the audience you’re looking to reach.
Don’t just send the same message to every potential client. Identify each prospect’s pain points and demonstrate how you can fix that through the product or service you’re offering. If you do this well, the email you send could be a godsend for the prospective client. You could even throw in a discount, limited time offer or some other freebie to sweeten the deal.
Have you just completed a project for a client? Was the client happy with the work you did? That goodwill is a very valuable marketing asset. Sometimes the client will pass your name on to other departments in their company, or on to other companies that need what you have to offer. That description is a perfect scenario though, and you will more than likely need to solicit a referral in some way.
The importance of marketing has only grown over time. It is especially relevant in an age where it is becoming harder and harder to grab an audience’s attention. While by no means exhaustive, these marketing tips can be a good way to kickstart client growth for you consultancy.