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20 Ways to Float to Your Firm to the Top: Will a 'Rising Tide' Raise Your Boat?

By Michael W. McLaughlin

Signs are everywhere that the market for consulting services is picking up steam. Consultants in virtually every field are noticing a stronger market. Researchers have found that operational performance of consulting firms is better than it's been in more than three years.

That's the good news.

The unfortunate irony is that, as the market heats up, some highly competent consultants will struggle to win client work against less qualified competitors for one reason: their marketing programs are self-defeating.

You won't find a better time to take a fresh look at your marketing strategy. Chances are you'll recognize opportunities that will bring more clients-and more profit-to your practice.

Have a look at the 20 Guerrilla Consulting Principles below, and use them to tune up your marketing strategy. You may already be following some of them, while others may generate new ideas.

20 Guerrilla Consulting Principles

  1. Marketing is embedded into every aspect of the practice, from the big things-like how you deliver services-to the details like the look of your emails and envelopes.
  2. Your backlog of business covers at least 50% of your forecasted profit for the next year.
  3. You have a marketing position that everyone in the practice understands and can describe in a few brief sentences.
  4. Clients understand your marketing position.
  5. Your clients and prospects know what makes you dramatically different from your competitors.
  6. All members of your practice know exactly how they contribute to the success of both your business and its marketing strategy.
  7. You have a marketing activity calendar, and you follow it.
  8. Client-specific tactics are at the center of your marketing strategy.
  9. Existing clients and their referrals are your richest source of new business.
  10. You routinely ask for referrals.
  11. You have patience with your marketing program, recognizing that some strategies take hold more quickly than others.
  12. You measure the effectiveness of your marketing, making mid-course corrections as needed.
  13. Your marketing strategy relies on an array of integrated tactics, applied consistently over time, rather than a start-and-stop approach.
  14. You rigorously qualify every opportunity before agreeing to create a proposal or begin client work.
  15. You place a high value on clients and on account management skills.
  16. Your consultants execute projects flawlessly.
  17. Your consultants provide a positive experience for your clients, no matter how tough the project.
  18. Your marketing materials make a substantive contribution to your business development efforts.
  19. You make time every day for marketing the business.
  20. You win your fair share of profitable work.

As you consider the effectiveness of your marketing, think about the advice of Peter Drucker:
"The aim of marketing is to make selling superfluous."

Michael W. McLaughlin is the coauthor, with Jay Conrad Levinson, of Guerrilla Marketing for Consultants. Michael is a principal with Deloitte Consulting LLP, and the editor of Management Consulting News and The Guerrilla Consultant.

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