Management Consulting: Avoid the Basic Marketing Mistakes

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Over the years VerbFactory has developed marketing programs for a number of great management consultants ranging from the world’s largest firms to one-person operations. Here are some of the things we’ve learned about what to do – and what not to do – when it comes to helping these businesses get the word out.

1 – Figure out what you’re selling. “Management consulting” is a catch-all phrase that can mean just about anything, so it’s critical to figure out exactly what your real offer is. Are people paying you for a comprehensive report, or do they want someone to take a hands-on role to make real changes? It’s human nature to try to cast a wide net, but it’s better to present yourself as an expert in a few things than a generalist in many areas.

2 – Uncover what makes you different. If you’ve ever read management consultants’ Web sites, you probably don’t remember who said what. That’s because most of them are completely interchangeable – at least from a marketing perspective. What really makes you tick? Remember that prospective clients are going to be evaluating several firms, so standing out from the crowd is essential.

3 – Determine what role the founder or CEO is going to have in your branding. Bigger firms tend to build their public personas around the company, but smaller shops and solo consultants often pin their identities on a charismatic leader or expert. It can be a great strategy, but be careful: it can be difficult to scale a personal brand because clients are going to want to work with the “A team,” not secondary consultants.

4 – Tell the client story, not yours. Most people who run management consulting businesses are very smart and have a lot of expertise…but they can also get hyper-focused on describing what they do rather than clearly articulating what problems they solve for clients. Using case studies and third-party testimonials lets you focus on the “Why” part of your story, not just the “What” or “How.” Don’t worry – if the pitch goes well you’ll have tons of time to talk about your approach and methodology, but don’t lead with it. Successful car salespeople don’t open with an hour-long lecture about the engine specs.

5 – Be what you are. This is more of a philosophical issue than a marketing one, but clients and prospects are going to figure out pretty quickly what you can and can’t deliver. Build up your credibility by being honest about your strengths and limitations in your core messaging and marketing collateral.

There are many different kinds of consultancies, so there’s no one perfect marketing approach for everyone to follow. But by following a few simple suggestions, it’s possible to avoid the pitfalls that often affect this industry and build sustainable, lasting, and successful brands.

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