You’ll find lots on “attracting clients” written for consultants. And you can easily waste a lot of time on activities that support this type of bullshit. After all, it all seems very reasonable and desirable.
I’m not saying that “attraction marketing” isn’t worthwhile. Writing a book, having a professional website, doing regular social media, speaking at events. They’re all a great backdrop … for the main event.
The trouble is it’s easy to get lost in these activities and forget their sole purpose – which is, of course, finding and selling consultancy projects that benefit clients. They’re also a great way to procrastinate. To avoid the hard graft – and the fear – of reaching out direct to prospects and sometimes being rejected.
So, I like to remind my mentoring clients that the main event starts with reaching out, then a marketing conversation that uncovers a project, which in turn leads to a sales conversation where they can qualify the project’s value and propose a solution.
And, if you want to find higher-value consultancy projects, doesn’t it make more sense to invest your limited time getting out and about, meeting prospective clients?
Bullshit marketing isn’t a new problem. In this old film, David Ogilvy talks about Direct Response Advertising versus Classic Advertising. He describes a very similar issue to the one I’m writing about. You should watch it.
I’m not suggesting for a moment that advertising sells consultancy. But there are lessons we can take from Ogilvy’s comments. For example we might try this checklist for any business development work you commit to.
- Know your outcome. What do you want as a result of this business development activity?
- Guide the journey. What needs to happen to move things forward?
- Always ask for action. What do you want the client to do, specifically?
- Measure results. How will you know if the activity has moved a sale closer to a close?
I think Ogilvy would have said that anything else is BS Marketing. Ultimately it’s about doing what works. If you choose to not do that, do so knowingly – you might be sewing a great backdrop, you might be protecting your ego needs … but it’s not selling.