This pandemic has impacted almost every sector of the economy, and the consulting industry is no exception. Obviously, this is not the time to make appointments, meet with managers and C-level executives to promote your product and/or services, and nail those contracts. For you, this period will involve two options:
- You can consider this to be a “re-building” time, to create new products or services, improve current ones, and take some time to develop new knowledge and skills, perhaps through some online coursework.
- You can decide to develop digital methods for courting new clients and for holding on to existing ones, once we are out of the crisis.
And with much more time on your hands, you certainly can choose both options. But for purposes of this piece, the focus will be on the latter – developing a plan to reach out to current and potential clients, offer them something of value, and keep your name in front of them. When business normalcy returns, they will remember that “something of value” that they can now pursue further.
Your Competition is Making Plans
Make no mistake about it – most business strategy consulting firms are making these types of plans, and you should as well. Just because they may not be in full operation right now, they are already implementing strategies to stay connected with current clients and to market to potential clients through digital communications and offers.
As you consider what you can do in terms of positioning and messaging, here are some suggestions that will enhance your professional reputation and promote even greater success once things return to normal.
1. Keep Communication Pathways Open with Current Clients
Perhaps you have been developing a new product that will dovetail nicely into previous consulting you have delivered to a client. An email with a “teaser” could pique interest for the future. Let your clients know that you are busy and active with “no moss growing under your feet.”
The email should be friendly, professional, and engaging. To write such an email, you should use a conversational tone and visuals. ConstantContact provided us with a great example of an attractive email that can retain the attention of your client.
2. Consider a Knowledge or Maturity Assessment for Current Clients
These have become quite popular and will intrigue company managers and executives, if only because of the interactivity involved. And they probably have additional time on their hands right now to participate in such an assessment, especially if their business has slowed
Based upon your previous consulting activity with a client, you can develop an assessment tool that will measure where they are now and whether they are taking steps to move to the next level in their organizational goals.
The great things about these assessments are as follows:
- Each individual who completes the survey will receive a personal report
- There can then be a comprehensive organizational report that provides you the data to make decisions about your next proposals
- Based upon the reporting, you can also provide short-term advice and guidance relative to some actions they can now take to move to their next level. Of course, you will provide such guidance for free.
- The advice you provide can be fully customized to meet individual and organizational needs. Reportedly only 52%-68% of clients claim that they receive personalized advice. Providing clients with customized advice can give you a competitive advantage.
- Such an activity will demonstrate your commitment to current clients over the long-term, not just when they may be in a business crisis.
One marketing consultant recently conducted a maturity assessment of an academic writing service review agency, Online Writers Rating. Its advertisers were beginning to “pull out” because user traffic was in freefall. He discovered that they had a little-to-no understanding of the creative process involved in “re-modeling” the company mission to fit the current situations of its student users.
Prior to the pandemic, users were primarily high school and college students whose educations were occurring on campus. Once campuses were closed and instruction went online, students needed to change. They no longer just needed help with writing assignments.
They needed tutoring assistance to master skills and concepts with which they struggled. And yet Pick the Writer continued to only feature writing services. And the other resources it offered to students focused on this singular type of assistance and resources related to on-campus environments. Its blog, for example, continued to post articles on campus student life and challenges, rather than the challenges and struggles of being at home, isolated, and finding it difficult to adjust to fully online learning.
In essence, it needed a business turnaround strategy. With advice and guidance, they were able to come up with new and unique ways to continue to serve students in their new environments.
They began to feature tutoring services and providing resources and blog articles that addressed the new environment in which students now found themselves. Their blog now features topics such as how to make money online or changes that Coronavirus introduced in the translating communities.
One major change was to reach out to users and set up discussion boards and topics that allowed them to vent, to speak about their struggles, and to commiserate with others experiencing the same. In short, these discussions became online support groups.
Traffic began to build again and continues to do so, as the word gets out. And advertisers are slowly (but steadily) coming back.
3. Use Knowledge and/or Maturity Assessments as Lead Magnets for Potential Clients
Certainly, you have a list of potential clients (leads that you have not really nurtured), and you will not be able to contact them for personal meetings during these times. And each of them may be a company in crisis in their own way. Having not faced these crises before, how are they developing strategies to deal with their current issues?
Contacting a C-level executive with the offer of a knowledge or maturity assessment directly related to their current issues can be a great method of introducing yourself and your expertise. These assessments can be generalized and relate to the type of consultancy you provide.
The assessment can be presented in the form of an interactive quiz. In this way, the executives will perceive your potential collaboration as easy going and genuine.
Once the assessment is completed, the reports will be delivered to individuals and, again, full reports delivered to the executive decision-makers. Of course, your advice and guidance will follow.
Now you have a lead that has become much “warmer” – as things return to normal. Here are the benefits:
- From the assessment reports, you will gain an understanding of the company, its current levels of knowledge and maturity. This will allow putting together a customized proposal to meet their needs.
- You should encourage as many people to take the assessment as possible. The more who take it, the more data you will be gathering to drive the specifics of what you eventually propose.
- You will be known and remembered as you market the products and services that will relate to their organizational needs. You are the person who took the time to provide initial consultancy at no cost.
4. How Can Your Existing Digital Products or Services Relate to the Current Circumstances that Companies Face?
The management consulting industry has evolved as technology has. A great deal of training now occurs through software products that “attendees” can access on their own time schedules and demonstrate mastery of modules that are then reported to their superiors.
In this current crisis, you may have training software that can be marketed right now, based upon new challenges the organization now faces.
Consider this: a company has sent most of its workers home to work remotely. It is struggling to develop strategies for a situation that has been thrust upon them. They have delegated task responsibilities, deadlines, and even video-conferencing tools so that their newly remote workers can collaborate with their peers. But they are not a business like Best Writers Online that has been managing remote workers for years.
You have a piece of training software related to motivation, productivity, and time management. What could be more relevant and necessary? This is something you could promote and market right now.
Take as an example Clarity Consultants that offers eLearning development for increasing the team’s efficiency. Putting this online custom training in focus is their current marketing strength.
Position Yourself Now
Your mission is to position yourself now as the consultant/firm that has reached out to provide advice and guidance during these times. Current and potential clients are not likely to forget that.