Johnny Cash had just died. I stood in front of the audience, dressed in black. I started singing and playing “Man in Black” as a tribute. About a third of the way through the song, I realized that I had started singing in the wrong key and that our drummer way off beat. I stopped the song and didn’t even start it over.
I apologized and said that I could not do that to Johnny Cash. Had I continued, I would have let down my audience. Instead, I was honest about my failure and moved on with the rest of the show.
In previous articles we’ve talked about the three things on the way to becoming a consultant. These are skills that every consultant has to get good at and how to grow a specialty. Once you land on a specialty, you should start to evaluate your potential audience.
- Who are they?
- Where are they currently going?
- How do you become a consultant to them?
Here are a few ways to do that that you can start to ponder.
Creating a Central Hub
Every consultant needs to have a central hub. This is a place that gives most of the information about your consulting services. All social media, YouTube videos, and products should return to the Central Hub.
For most consultants, the central hub is their website. As a business rule of thumb, it is best to make your marketing as specialized to your target environment as possible.
For example, if a counseling website incorporates too much consulting, both counseling and consulting clients get confused. Therefore, your consulting site should be a completely separate website from your counseling site. I love Bluehost for this!
Never have your business website be the same as your consulting website! (Here’s a walk through on setting up a consulting website in WordPress)
In future articles, I’ll discuss exactly how to launch your own website, how to evaluate a website developer’s site-building skills, and where to go after the website is started. I say “started” because a website should never be finished; it should always be growing, linking, and expanding.
Consulting in Social Media
A benefit of using social media as the central hub is that there are few costs and a huge market that has already been established. Targeted ads can specifically focus on the niche that you are building. However, you don’t own the platform. Recently, Facebook changed how they let businesses interact with their audience. In coming years, we’ll see more of this.
Social media is a great way to build pre-launch buzz and keep ongoing connections with an audience, but it’s not a central hub.
An e-newsletter is a viable option, if you don’t want a website. You own it, it’s cheap, and easy to use. Products like Aweber, Constant Contact, and Mail Chimp all help organize email campaigns.
E-newsletters are a great way to keep engaged with your potential clients, but people usually want to verify that you’re legit. A website is, again, a stronger central hub than just an e-newsletter.
Videos are great ways to show your expertise and oftentimes launch people into consulting greatness. It’s a wonderful way to show an audience that you are a person they can trust. However, if your hub is on someone else’s platform, you’re never fully in control.
In making videos, it’s best to find specific questions that are being asked in your specialty. For example:
- What question do you get all the time?
- What leads to this issue?
- How can it be prevented?
- If someone has never done that job, what do they need to know?
Say you’re consulting with a bank on crisis management. A common question might be: “How should our direct staff deal with someone who is escalating and upset?”
As a counselor, you might make the following videos:
- 5 ways to de-escalate someone that is upset
- How to make a bank environment more soothing
- The psychology of not getting your way
- How to speak to customers so they feel heard
How to Find an Audience
Once you have a central hub (website), you’ll have to get people there. In future articles, I will discuss using the following tools to build an audience:
- Social media groups
- Conferences in the specialty
- Professional groups
- Individual referrals
- Websites and blind emails to find an audience
How People Find You
Step back for a minute. How do you find new resources, products, or speakers? I imagine that you hear about them from other people, you discover them through internet searches, or people you already follow somehow introduce you.
After you’ve built your hub and found some people, you have to make it easy for people to find you. Primarily, we’ll want your website to be highly optimized for keywords, so that no matter how Google changes their algorithm, you are so dang useful they can’t ignore you!
How You Build Trust
The very last thing we’re going to cover in building an audience is the guiding principle of all of this: TRUST!
Take a minute to do this exercise and check the reasons that people choose a consultant:
- To help them make more money
- To teach new approaches and provide new information
- To teach how to effectively do the specialty
- To provide solutions for problems that will save the client time
- To help grow a business
- To help them understand how to do something that they don’t know, such as accounting or marketing
- To systematize a business
- To launch a new venture
Now look at these. How does someone know that the consultant can do these things? Maybe they have seen them work, but more times than not, the consultant somehow gives micro-snapshots of their work.
Here are examples of micro-snapshots that consultants use to demonstrate that they can do a larger task:
- Previous client testimonials: “Thanks to Joe, I am seeing more clients, raised my rates, and make around $4,000 more per month.”
- Examples of their work: These can be past projects or projects that are in the works.
- Content that has value that is free: My whole website,Practice of the Practice, talks about marketing, business, and how to become a consultant. I want my free stuff to be better than others’ paid stuff.
- Tracking or percentages of results: 100% of clients at Mental Wellness Counseling say they would refer a friend or family member.
Now you know how to build a specialty and build your audience. Next time: Building Income.
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Joseph R. Sanok, MA, LLP, LPC, NCC
Joe Sanok is an ambitious results expert. He is a consultant to consultants, private practice business consultant and counselor that helps consultants and counselors to increase income and influence! His new How to Become a Consultant podcast aims to interview the top consultants of the world. To link to Joe’s Google+ .