The Marketing Menu PDF you can download below is a guide to the most effective marketing methods for generating leads for consultants, coaches and other professionals.
But before you jump into it, here are a few rules of thumb to bear in mind.
Firstly, remember that your very best source of clients is always going to be your existing contacts.
Now I know that doesn't sound very sexy. It always seems much better to bring in brand new leads from cold. But it's much, much easier to convert someone who already knows you, already trusts you, and already sees you as credible.
So make sure you're regularly in contact with your ex-clients, current clients and people who nearly became clients. The people you've already built credibility and trust with.
Make sure you're fully nurturing those relationships before you turn to colder prospects.
Secondly, make sure you've fully exploited the potential for referrals from your current contacts too. Again, these will be much more likely to convert into paying clients than cold prospects.
Now when you do move to broader lead generation it’s best to start by aiming to master just one approach at a time.
Which one should you start with?
The first question to ask yourself is whether you’re in a “one-to-few” business where you tend to work with a small number of very high-value clients? For example, a consultant working with 2 or 3 clients a year, some perhaps paying a six-figure sum or more per engagement.
Or whether you’re in a “one-to-many” business where you work with a larger number of clients each paying a smaller amount? For example, a coach working with a few dozen or so clients on an ongoing basis. Or like me, you might run a membership program with potentially hundreds of members.
If you’re in a “one to few” business it means two things:
Firstly, because each client engagement is big, you’ll have to build a really strong relationship with your prospective client to win it. Potentially talking to many people in the client organisation many times and maybe going through a formal procurement process.
Secondly, you can afford to spend more time winning each one because of the high ROI you get if you win.
So putting those together implies you need to focus and target a small number of potential clients and put a lot of personal effort into winning each engagement. Spread yourself too thin and you won’t win any of them.
That means that the sort of marketing that will work best for you will be very targeted. Things like referrals, working your personal network. Contacting high-value potential clients and offering to do a presentation for them on trends in their industry.
And your follow-up will often be quite manually-driven and personalised.
By contrast, if you’re in a “one to many” business and work with a large number of clients every year, it means you need your marketing to reach much wider. And you can’t afford to invest so much of your time per potential client on each opportunity.
That means we’re talking about much more automated or leveraged marketing – at least initially until an opportunity becomes likely to close.
That might mean doing presentations at industry conferences. Using online advertising leading people to a lead magnet and nurture emails. Or using content marketing or SEO to get people to that lead magnet.
And your follow-up is much more likely to be automated – email marketing being the usual suspect.
Quite a different strategy.
Of course, most businesses will lie somewhere in between these extremes. And many of us have a range of service offers including both “one to many” and “one to few”. Nonetheless, understanding where the majority of your clients and engagements lie on this spectrum will give you crucial insights into what marketing approaches will work best for you.
Next, look at three factors to identify the specific types of marketing you should focus on:
What is the reach of this approach? In other words how many of your potential clients to it get you in front of? For example, personal networking may connect you with dozens of people, an article in a trade journal may reach thousands.
How deep will the impact of this approach be on each potential client you reach with it? In particular, how much will it establish credibility and trust? For example, an article in an industry journal will probably do a lot to raise your credibility but because you’re not interacting with people personally it probably won’t do much for trust. A small scale seminar may hit both credibility and trust.
Will you enjoy doing it and are you good at it? It’s all well and good figuring out that presentations at big conferences will build credibility with your ideal clients, but if the thought of speaking on stage turns your stomach it’s probably not the best method for you right now.
As you can imagine, if you’re in a one-to-many business you’ll need an approach that primarily gives you a lot of reach. The more impact it has the better, but you don’t need a huge degree of impact for someone to buy a fairly low-cost service from you.
On the other hand, if you’re in a one-to-few business you’ll need an approach that gives you as much impact as possible and reach is less important.
In both cases though, you need an approach you can make work for you. One that’s within your technical capabilities, fits into the time you have available and is something you feel comfortable doing (and ideally enjoy).
The following chart gives a guide to the typical reach and impact of some of the more common lead generation tactics. Click on the image to download the PDF to your computer.
In practice, the reach and impact of a tactic for you and your specific audience may be different.
For example, your reach with networking events is likely to be much higher if your audience is small businesses or specific professions rather than executives in corporates. But the chart is a great starting point for you to base your analysis of your specific situation on.