Marketing your consulting services is very different than marketing a service or product.
Although consultants do technically offer a “service,” it’s a different kind of service than, say, installing a new roof or catering a business lunch. In a sense, consultants have to market themselves and their expertise. They need to convince people that their knowledge can be helpful to other people.
In this blog post, we’re going to look at ways that consultants can increase referrals. Referrals really are the best way to increase your business. People trust referrals from their friends and associates much more than they trust traditional advertising. That’s why referrals have much higher closing rates than other types of marketing such as print materials or even digital marketing.
Let’s take a look at methods you can use to increase the referrals for your consulting business.
Consultants are sometimes hesitant to offer too much free education. After all, if you give away all of your wisdom for free, why would someone pay you for it? But this is rarely a realistic concern.
People hire consultants because they want an expert to help them with their unique situation. They can read about general business principles just about anywhere: in trade journals, business books, blogs, LinkedIn. What they want is someone who will sit down and listen to their problems and then suggest specific, action-oriented solutions.
You can help people to trust that you have something valuable to offer by providing some free education. Encourage your current and past clients to follow you on social media or sign up for your email newsletter. Then send them helpful information on a regular basis. You’ll be on their minds, so when a friend or colleague needs help with something, they’ll think of you first and make a referral.
Ask for Referrals
This brings us to our next strategy. Don’t be shy about telling people that you’re looking for referrals. It can be intimidating to admit that you want referrals. Some people fear that asking for referrals will give others the impression that they’re not doing well.
If this is a fear of yours, look past yourself. Be confident that what you have to offer is valuable to others, and tell your friends, family, and existing and past clients that you’re seeking a few new clients to work with. Encourage them to recommend anyone who might be a good fit for you. Again, by simply letting them know you’re looking for clients, you’re reminding them about you so you’ll be the first person they recommend.
The more you give the more you get. It sounds easy enough, but it really can make a difference. Develop the habit of referring people in your network to those you think will benefit from the business relationship. This kind of generosity generally leads to a return on the generosity. Don’t limit your referrals to other consultants. Recommend any kind of professional who has done a good job for you. Do you like your dentist? Be sure to pass referrals on to your friends. You never know how this generosity will return to you.
Follow Up With Clients
This is a very easy thing to do, but many people simply forget to do it. After you work with a client, be sure to follow up with a thank you. In your thank you, tell them that you enjoyed working with them, and ask them if they know of anyone else who might be looking for the kind of help you provide. This is especially helpful when you work with a particularly great client. High-quality clients can be hard to come by, but chances are good that they have contacts who are a lot like them. Capitalise on these associations, and ask for referrals in your follow-ups.
As you work to increase your consulting referrals, remember that you’re selling yourself. Maintain professional, ethical standards, and be helpful and generous to the people around you. Do these things, and you’ll be on your way to increased success.