How the Most Successful
Professionals and Consultants
Attract All the Clients They Need
by Henry J. DeVries, MBA
Founder, New Client Marketing Institute
Abstract: The first challenge for professionals and consultants is creating new clients. There is a proven process for marketing with integrity and getting a 400% to 2000% return on your marketing investment. To attract new clients, the best approach is the Educating Expert Model that demonstrates your expertise by giving away valuable information through writing and speaking. In addition, you can increase closing rates up to 50% to 100% by discovering and rehearsing the right questions to ask prospective clients
Management visionary Peter Drucker said “there is only one valid definition of business purpose: to create a customer.” To do this, a professional or a consultant must answer three classic questions: What is our business? Who is our client? What does our client consider valuable? (Drucker, 1954, The Practice of Management).
The number one challenge for professionals and consultants is creating new clients. However, many professionals and consultants feel marketing is too time consuming, expensive or undignified. Even if they try a marketing or business development program, most professionals and consultants are frustrated by a lack of results. They even worry if marketing would ever work for them. And no wonder. According to a researcher from the Harvard Business School, the typical sales and marketing hype that works for retailers and manufacturers is not only a waste of time and money for professionals and consultants, it actually makes them less attractive to prospective clients (Maister, 1992, Managing the Professional Service Firm).
However, research has proven there is a better way. There is a proven process for marketing with integrity and getting an up to 400% to 2000% return on your marketing investment. At the New Client Marketing Institute we call it the Educating Expert Model, and the most successful professional service and consulting firms use it to get more clients than they can handle. The findings of our 8-year, $2 million research study about how the most successful professional and consulting firms use this model were published in our book,Client Seduction.
To attract new clients, the best approach is to demonstrate your expertise by giving away valuable information through writing and speaking. Research shows independent professionals, management and technical consultants, corporate trainers, executive or personal coaches, marketing and creative firms, and HR and recruiting consultants can fill a pipeline with qualified prospects in as little as 30 days by offering advice to prospects on how to overcome their most pressing problems (DeVries and Bryson, 2005, Client Seduction).
Unfortunately, many professionals who learn this truth find the idea of writing and speaking too daunting and even mysterious. Most feel this is only for a select few, but that is a miscalculated view. In the beginning, it is not unusual to wonder how these other professionals and consultants get in front of audiences and get their how-to advice in print.
The good news is there exists a body of knowledge that some have discovered to grow their professional and consulting practices. As an example, management consulting firms like McKinsey & Co. pioneered the approach and have it down to a science (Bartlett, June 1996, “McKinsey & Co., Harvard Business Review). This is a growing trend. In 1991 a random survey of the top 1,000 U.S. law firms found that 89 percent held at least one client seminar per year. In 1999, 94 percent of law firms were regularly holding seminars. Lawyers at the top 1,000 firms ranked seminars as the most effective tool for cross-selling and gaining new clients (Source: FGI Research, 1999).
What should you do to increase revenues? First, understand that generating leads is an investment and should be measured like any other investment. Next, quit wasting money on ineffective means like brochures, advertising and sponsorships. The best marketing investment you can make is to get help creating informative Web sites, hosting persuasive seminars, booking speaking engagements, and getting published as a newsletter columnist and eventually book author.
Rather than creating a brochure, start by writing how-to articles. Those articles turn into speeches and seminars. Eventually, you gather the articles and publish a book through a strategy called print on demand self publishing (we’ve done it under 90 days and for less than a $1,000 for clients). Does it work? Here are a list of business best-seller titles by professionals and consultants that started out self-published (Source: Southwest Airlines Spirit, March 2005):
- The One Minute Manager by Kenneth Blanchard and Spencer Johnson: picked up by William Morrow & Co.
- In Search of Excellence, by Tom Peters (of McKinsey & Co.): in its first year, sold more than 25,000 copies directly to consumers—then Warner sold 10 million more.
- Leadership Secrets of Attila the Hun, by Weiss Roberts: sold half a million copies before being picked up by Warner.
Understanding the psychology of clients also provides critical evidence of the validity of the get published approach. Professional services and consulting are what economists sometimes call “credence” goods, in that purchasers must place great faith in those who sell the services (Bloom, October 1984, “ Effective Marketing for Professional Services,” Harvard Business Review). What does the research say about how client choice, satisfaction and dissatisfaction of professionals and consultants? Here are the five ways prospects judge you (Aaker, 1995, Strategic Market Management) and my views of how the Educating Expert Model is the perfect fit:
- Competence. Knowledge and skill of the professional or consultant and their ability to convey trust and confidence (you demonstrate and prove your expert knowledge by speaking and writing)
- Tangibles. Appearance of physical facilities, communication materials, equipment and personnel (you do this by the appearance of your Web site, book and how-to handouts)
- Empathy. Caring, individualized attention that a firm provides its clients (educating people to solve problems before they hire you proves you care)
- Responsiveness. Willingness to help customers and provide prompt service (when you promise to give people things like special reports and white papers, do it promptly)
- Reliability. Ability to perform the promised service dependably and accurately (prospective clients will judge you on how organized your seminars, speeches and Web site are)
Even if you believe in the Educating Expert Model, how do you find time to do it and still get client and admin work done? No professional or consultant ever believes they have too much time on their hands. Nothing worth happening in business ever just happens. The answer is to buy out the time for marketing. You need to be involved, but you should not do this all on your own. Trial and error is too expensive of a learning method. Wouldn’t it be better if someone helped you who knows the tricks and shortcuts? We can show you how to leverage your time and get others to do most of the work for you, even if you are a solo practitioner.
How much should you invest in marketing? That depends on your business goals, but here are some norms. Law firms generally spend about 2 percent of their gross revenues on marketing, and the average expenditure is about $136,000. Marketing costs for accounting firms average about 7 percent to 10 percent of gross revenue (Source: The New York Times, November 15, 2001). The typical architecture, engineering, planning, and environmental consulting firm spent a record 5.3 percent of their net service revenue on marketing (Source: ZweigWhite’s 2003 Marketing Survey of A/E/P & Environmental Consulting Firms).
Here are some of the key benefits of following the Educating Expert Model:
- Allows your message to be heard above the noise of all the other professionals and consultants
- Systematizes your marketing with a proactive, monthly approach that is simple and affordable to implement
- Makes it easier for your clients and business advocates to refer potential clients to you
- Creates multiple streams of income because prospects actually pay for you to market to them
- Increases closing rates up to 50% to 100% by discovering and rehearsing the right questions to ask prospective clients
- Produces all-help, no-hype marketing you actually feel proud to communicate
- Quits wasting money on ineffective tactics like brochures, sponsorships and cold-calling
- Leverages your time so you get more results in less time
The New Client Marketing Institute works with independent professionals, management and technical consultants, corporate trainers, executive or personal coaches, marketing and creative firms, and HR and recruiting consultants who are struggling to attract enough clients. We have a 15-year track record of measurably improving revenues for professional service firms and service businesses. Through one-on-one brainstorming, small group practice sessions and in-house marketing retreats we share more than 1,000 pragmatic strategies and tactics.
We’ve had very good results guiding our clients to increase revenues through more new clients, more fee income per client and more money from past clients. Here are just a few concrete examples:
- Through an informational Web site and electronic newsletter we helped create, one management consultant client added an additional $100,000 in revenue from speaking engagements and sales of information products within 2 years
- In 45 days one client who is a consultant to the home building industry was able to launch a Web site and education expert campaign that helped him double his business in a year
- Using one strategy alone a Web marketing consultant client was able to add $100,000 of income in one year
- By switching over to the model, a marketing services client was able to receive a 2000% return on investment its new marketing campaign that featured how-to advice seminars and articles form senior executives
- When an IT consulting company gave up cold calling and switched to our model, the quality of their leads dramatically improved and closed deals quickly increased by 25%
- Using these strategies of seminars and getting published, a law firm client has grown in a few years from a regional practice to a national firm
- A well established regional accounting firm client reported they were able to accomplish more in 6 months with our methods than they had in three years on their own
- An advertising agency used the strategy to double revenues from $4.5 to $9.6 million in five years and earn a spot in the Ad Age 500
- With the model a 100-year-old financial services firm was able to double awareness and create 100,000 qualified leads per year for its advisors
For information on our free special report on the “27 Ways Professionals and Consultants Can Increase Revenues,” Free Marketing Tips San Diego, and invitations to our upcoming seminars and no-cost teleseminars, please visit our Web site at www.newclientmarketing.com.
In closing, I leave you with this thought:
How will they hire you unless they trust you?
How, in turn, will they trust a person they have not heard?
How, in turn, will they hear without someone to speak?
How, in turn, will you speak unless you have a solution?
How, in turn, will you have a solution unless you understand their problems?
How will you understand their problems unless you listen?
Please know this: the universe rewards activity. Start by asking clients about their pains. Gather information on how to solve those worries, frustrations and concerns. Be the expert who educates people on how they compare to their peers and the best ways to overcome their obstacles. The more prospects you inform how to solve their problems in general, the more will hire you for the specifics. In the words of motivational speaker Zig Ziglar: “You can get whatever you want in life if you just help enough people get what they want.”