Do you guru? The world needs more business gurus. 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 mega-minds like Peter Drucker, but that is a miscalculated view. You don’t need to write more than three dozen books and have them translated into 30 languages like the father of modern management. Just becoming a local guru can work wonders.
Management guru Drucker once wrote “there is only one valid definition of business purpose: to create a customer.” To do this, a business person must answer three classic questions that Drucker posed in his 1954 book, The Practice of Management: What is our business? Who is our client? What does our client consider valuable?
Wouldn’t it be a better business world if all professionals and consultants had good answers to Drucker’s three questions? If they did, they would be on the road to helping more clients.
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 former Harvard Business School professor David Maister, the typical sales and marketing hype that works for retailers and manufacturers is a waste of time and money for professionals and consultants. Here are a few guru strategies that do work:
- To attract new clients, the best approach is to do what Drucker did for five decades: 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 by offering advice to prospects on how to overcome their most pressing problems.
- Understanding the psychology of clients also provides critical evidence of the validity of the speak up and 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. How can potential clients trust you if they never hear what you have to say?
- 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. Speaking and writing is a growing trend. According to FGI Research, 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.
- How do you get started as a guru? First, understand that generating new clients is an investment and should be measured like any other investment. Next, quit wasting money on ineffective means like brochures, advertising and sponsorships. Rather than creating a brochure, start by writing how-to articles. Those articles turn into speeches and seminars. 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 a book author.
Please know this: the universe rewards activity. Start by being curious and 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.
Of course, Drucker said it best. In the words of the man whose work influenced Winston Churchill, Bill Gates, Jack Welch and the Japanese business establishment: “My greatest strength as a consultant is to be ignorant and ask a few questions.”