Do management consulting firms need an integrated marketing communications program? After all, in a specialized service business, you know the associations, online forums and other venues where prospects are. Or maybe your referral sources are delivering the business you need. Or your relationships are so tight with existing clients that you know what projects are coming up.
The downside to this thinking is that none of these sources of leads represents an ironclad strategy. You don’t have time to participate in all the association meetings, your referral sources may get charmed by your competitor and recommend that firm instead, or existing clients have a boss who wants to cut costs (ever hear of a boss that didn’t?).
Constantly demonstrating expertise and value has become the mantra for how management consulting firms to survive, and they accomplish this through integrated marketing communications. Here are three points to consider when assembling a program.
- Know who you are. Firms that enjoy the most success are specialists. They have established positioning and messaging around certain regions, niches, or lines of business. Their marketing materials are based on their specialty and that’s what the firm becomes known for. The content they generate describes their approach to problem solving, their immersion in industry issues, and the successful outcomes they achieve. As a result, they grow faster and are more profitable. Our research on high-growth firms bears this out.
- Know what the clients want. Buyers of management consulting services have some distinct differences from sellers when it comes to what is important. Buyers want team expertise and industry-specific knowledge, while many consultants think cost is more important; those consultants are marketing themselves out of projects. Again, the research data on management consulting provides the roadmap.
- Know where the prospects are. Clients don’t want to test a new brand because that involves risk. So, let them get to know you by pushing out content showcasing your expertise. Avoid the self-congratulatory stuff and help prospects understand how it is to do business with you. There are many online channels – a blog, social media, email. And there are the offline opportunities like trade shows and lunch & learn gatherings you can host, for example.
This is where integrated marketing communications is particularly important because the different elements work together. Use social media to promote an in-person event you host, and then send out an email to prospects about the outcomes – not who showed, but what key information was revealed that others can use. Use your marketing to become a hub in your niche, and all the spokes will want to attach themselves to you.
Often you will hear firms say “We’re B2B” or “We’re B2C,” as in they focus on business-to-business or business-consumer marketing. Consider adding another acronym to the mix by focusing on B2P, business-to-people marketing. Give your audiences the opportunity to know you and offer them what they want in the channels where they will see it. You won’t be disappointed.
Check out our research study on How Buyers Buy Management Consulting Services to learn more.