5 Steps to Improve Your Visibility as a Consultant or Trainer
If you ask most consultants what their biggest marketing challenge is, they’d likely answer: Gaining new clients. But even before you do that, perhaps the hardest part for many (from a marketing standpoint) is developing the name and brand recognition, and having people recognize and think about them in relation to their expertise. In marketing, this is called being top-of-mind. Like other businesses, a consultant’s brand is critical here and most don’t have the money to spend on a Super Bowl ad for people to become aware of them.
The question is, how do you become well-known? By that, we mean not necessarily famous, but just the known expert of your field? Like everything else with marketing, there is no one way to go about it. But, if you haven’t yet, we would suggest taking the following steps to help you put yourself on that path, regardless of your current size or number of clients:
1. Develop a Marketing Plan for Your Consulting Business
Unless you have expertise in the area, marketing is never an activity we would ever recommend you just “do.” Most importantly, it requires thought about a number of areas, including the current competitive landscape, the marketing channels you plan on using, any budget or resources you want to put toward it, revenue expectations, as well as thinking creatively about audience needs and goals. Before you start, put together a marketing plan. If you don’t know how to create one, we’ve provided a marketing plan template that you can download for free, focused on consulting, coaching, and training businesses. In addition to what we mention above, we encourage you to also consider the following while you develop your plan:
- What’s your story? To borrow from our friends at the Narrative Playbook, finding your purpose, and particularly how you aim to tell your story to clients is one key aspect of selling yourself and your services. Laying out what you stand for, what your mission is, how you came to that mission (your own story), is both engaging and helpful for those deciding on whether to hire you. (It also involves reiterating that story in your marketing materials.)
- What’s your approach? What we mean by this is figuring out your “voice” – one that’s unique to you and how you present yourself. Are you funny? Are you a more serious wonk-type? Are you gregarious? Are you more practical? Are you thought-provoking? What are the emotional characteristics that make people want to hire you?
Developing a Modern-Day Marketing Plan (Consultants, Coaches & Trainers)
The guide will be emailed to you.
Fill out the form to download for free.
Certainly, one part of any marketing plan for consultants, coaches, or trainers involves content production. Regardless of the industry you’re in, if you are currently or plan to go into consulting, you must have a certain expertise. And the best way to let people know your expertise is to develop content. As a consultant, coach, or trainer, individuals look to you for thought leadership – in marketing, we refer to this as a type of social currency – that which you learn yourself that you pass on to others to look smarter, funnier, more interesting. The more you can provide people that social currency the more valuable you are to them. Similarly, individuals look to you for help in practical things. Creating content around that approach is equally as useful. A few content types to think about producing this practical or thought-leadership content:
- Film with video. These days, it’s not hard to produce great video content on a budget. We detail how in our recent post, “How to Do Video Marketing on a Budget,” (which includes our webinar with expert Bob Wiltfong). If you decide to work with a film production company, that’s fine too. Just remember you’ll have to pay for the crew and any post-production you do as well. For consultants or trainers, a few video types work really well:
- Interviews with other experts
- ‘Talking-head’ videos, looking straight into the camera
- Webinar recordings
- Animated videos – that explain a system or process (if you need help with this, Marketing Nice Guys can also produce these for you as well as part of our suite of services.)
- Live videos (social)
- Do a weekly or semi-weekly blog. One of the easiest ways to produce thought-leadership or practical content is to develop and maintain a regular blog. In marketing terms think of a blog this way: Those sites that add a blog have been shown to increase traffic by 55 percent. It also allows you something easy to promote in most of your social channels and providing links back to your website means that some people will also explore your products and services.
- Consider podcasting. While podcasts are relatively straight-forward to produce compared to full-production video, we would certainly suggest you investigate what resources you need, and set the foundations in place first before moving to do one. For example, you need a place to host the podcasts and distribute primarily to iTunes (many consultants use Libsyn). You also need a method to record great audio either through a phone call or other means. And we do recommend using a producer that can double as a podcast host. For this, we typically contact our friend Mike Lenz, a podcast veteran and host who can guide you through the best ways to approach this. One thing you can do here is also think about here is to run a hybrid podcast/video show that can allow you to scale efforts – produce an interview video for YouTube for example, while you take the audio for a podcast. Given there are millions of podcasts out there today, breaking through the noise is the key. Ask yourself:
- Do you have a particular theme or unique approach that will resonate?
- What challenges have you seen working with your clients or other audiences? Are those good topics?
- What are you willing to do to promote the podcast itself? See below.
- Publish whitepapers or original research. One thing that probably makes you unique are the insights or research you have done that others would find equally enlightening. You may have a lot more to say than what will fit in a blog, so why not publish that into a whitepaper or original research as a PDF file. Then you can put that content piece behind a registration wall to capture additional names.
- Case studies and testimonials. Many consultants forget that the best pieces of content will often be stories of how they helped a particular client (case study), or getting that client to talk about you in a quote or video of some kind (testimonial). As with any content you produce, see what you can do to include images of your subjects with any text to reinforce the human element.
Books. Yes, we know that it’s no small thing to write a book (having done a couple of our own). That said, producing a book on your particular expertise as a consultant, coach, or trainer can be the defining content piece that you can use over and over again. Writing a book will also help you crystalize your thinking, allowing you to reflect on and improve your own practices. Books also help to grab speaking engagements at conferences and can get you in front of local media. It’s not easy to get a topic or manuscript accepted in front of major publishers such as Wiley, Simon & Schuster, Pearson, or Berrett–Koehler. (Some such as Simon & Schuster don’t even accept unsolicited manuscripts.) But there are many other smaller companies you can seek out, depending on your topic, including association publishers and industry-focused organizations. If those avenues don’t succeed, you can also think about self-publishing, which can be done (design, copy editing, formatting etc.) for less than $1,000.
3. Distribute and ‘Extend’ Your Content Reach.
One thing we often see consultants do is they create content but then don’t distribute it so people can see it. That would be equivalent to creating the world’s best cake but allowing no one to eat it. For example, any content you produce should be available somewhere on your website as a start but just putting it there doesn’t mean people will come across it. You have to showcase it in several other places too, including the following areas:
- Email or newsletter. Most marketers will tell you they love email. According to a recent survey, it was voted to be the top ROI driver of all marketing channels (59 percent to 21 percent for social media, the nearest competitor). It also continues to be a great way to communicate with customers and prospects, and build brand awareness. Blogs, videos, podcasts, and other content work great here.
- Social media. First, we always recommend posting any site content (blogs, new pages etc.) in Twitter first. That’s because Google indexes Twitter to discover new content. As a consultant, coach, or trainer, Twitter can be a great place to start and engage in conversations around topics of your expertise. Because many consultants, coaches, and trainers provide services to other businesses we also recommend LinkedIn for posting content. For more, on all the channels – Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, and TikTok in particular, we’ve created a free Small Business Guide to Social Media that can help you determine which channels work best.
- Webinars or courses. Perhaps you provide your expertise verbally, or through specific reports you write for your clients. Maybe you guide discussions in a particular way, or support businesses through ongoing guidance. For a lot of the business, much of your day-to-day involves person-to-person interaction with clients. But one thing we always consultants to consider is to extend their content expertise – in other words, scale that knowledge you provide clients by doing webinars or even courses that highlight your unique approach and methods that make you or your clients successful. Courses or webinars in particular can provide an additional revenue stream, and also help add to your email marketing list for all the services you provide.
- Paid media / advertising. Like many businesses, consultants often see paid advertising only for their end services, with the intention of getting potential client to sign on with them. But we’d argue some of the most effective advertising you can do is actually higher in the buyer journey process – using advertising (in Google or social) to boost your content distribution, particularly if you produce whitepapers or other downloadable material on specific topics. That way you can capture leads for your business and spread awareness more broadly than if you just target in-market buyers.
4. Work Your Network and Engage with Them
Most individual businesses start with people they know. The first clients are often referrals from friends or maybe the friends themselves. So, obviously, your network matters greatly – and it’s no different in the virtual world. As you might do in person, if you want to increase the visibility of your business, one way to do that is to work your network, particularly in social. And that means not just producing and posting content regularly, it means also really engaging on the platforms with others. For example, do you comment, like, share posts from others in your network? At least the posts you find thoughtful or interesting? Or reflect who you are? It certainly takes some effort to both post your own content and engage with others’ posts on the various networks, but by doing so you’ll likely increase both your own visibility and the number of followers you have.
5. Speak at Virtual and In-Person Events (Especially as the Pandemic Recedes)
We know it’s been a tough year for many consultants whose livelihoods are often based on getting out in front of audiences (who may eventually become their clients). Some have transitioned well to the virtual conference world during the past year. Others may have struggled a bit more with presenting in front of a livestreamed audience. But either way, live events are a critical aspect of marketing for many consultants and their businesses. If you’re a big enough “name,” many companies or organizations will provide an honorarium for you to present. (For well-known speakers, there are bureaus that will represent their interests in front of various organizations.) But most of the time, the responsibility will fall on you alone to represent yourself and deal with the individual conferences separately. A few tips if you’re interested in speaking at conferences (live or virtually):
- Do some research upfront about the speaking opportunities in your area of expertise. And make sure you know the RFP deadlines to submit a proposal. Many times, consultants forget the dates of particular conferences (even ones they presented at before).
- When you submit a RFP, make sure to include video of you speaking so the conference organizers can see your style and delivery.
- Craft your presentation specifically to the needs of that target audience attending that conference. Keywords, as in Google, are important to event staff and proposal reviewers.
- Build in any expenses for travel (especially for those when the pandemic eases and conferences will likely open up in-person attendance). In a lot of cases, you may not be paid for speaking, but you’ll probably be provided free conference attendance. Similar to the point above, use that to time to meet others and network for your business.
We hope this has been helpful for you. At Marketing Nice Guys, our mission is to help you excel at digital (and other forms of) marketing. Learn more about all of our services for consultants, coaches, and trainers. Or contact us anytime.