Whether you have a website for your consulting practice or not, if you are reading this, you probably suspect that your online marketing efforts could be improved. Maybe your current website isn’t presenting your services in the most favorable light. Perhaps you are in full-blown website shame, and are ready to to take action.
Some small businesses take on their own website design using a low cost service, and some hire a web designer, and no matter which path they choose they always realize that something seemingly simple was actually quite complex. This is because your website represents a lot of things: your marketing angle, your mission and core values, and a big part of your sales program — all rolled into one. So you’re probably not sure who to hire next to help take your site to the next level, or how best to invest your online marketing dollars to ensure that you will get better results. Most of all, you want your online marketing efforts to effectively reflect who you really are.
This article outlines the critical elements every consulting website needs to attract more prospective clients. It rolls together traditional sales and marketing strategies with newer online strategies, with the goal of helping you to sell more consulting services. It also includes technical strategies to keep your website up-to-date, and safe.
Future posts will cover the following eight great strategies in depth:
1. Choosing technology built for consultants: Regarding technology, we recommend WordPress. It is simple to use and can provide a lot of optional modules for a growing business. It’s free and constantly being improved by the developer at Automattic. You can custom-design from scratch using WordPress, or use a free or premium “theme.” I spent 12 months designing a theme that works specifically for consultants, coaches, and other types of service providers. Take a peek at my website, mightylittlewebshop.com, for a framework to model. Learn more about why WordPress might be a good choice for your new website »
2. A marketing plan to bring in more consulting clients (marketing strategy): It’s critically important to get crystal clear on what you sell and who you serve. Good marketing goes even deeper: why do you offer these services and why are they of value to your clients? Who exactly are your best clients, and therefore, prospects? Where is your market? (Local, regional, national, international.) Each answer allows you to craft an effective marketing strategy. The more you understand about the what, why, who, and where, the more you can tailor your website to attract and convert perfect prospects.
3. A distinctive and appropriate public face (visual branding): We all have competitors in our industry. How does our public face measure up? How do we look when we are not in the room? When a prospect “meets us” online will they remember us or does our website look generic? Can they easily distinguish us from our competition? Small firms don’t need an expensive logo, but they do need a distinctive, professional, and attractive “look” that spans their marketing materials.
4. Marketing messages that speak directly to your perfect client (copywriting): Once you have your marketing plan agreed on, you are equipped to draft key marketing messages. We like to start with “why.” Why are your services of value? Why do your prospects benefit from your services? We believe that your website should speak directly to the needs of your clients, outlining the issues that keep them up at night — the issues that you are uniquely qualified to help them solve. The messages should be about THEM, not you. Most business websites get this wrong.
5. An easy and effective sales process (sales packages): This alone is such a game changer. Ever product company is trying to sell a service, and forward thinking service companies are developing service packages or monthly retainers to nurture existing client relationships and reduce churn. Consultants are notoriously difficult to work with, because prospects often don’t understand what they are purchasing, what the results might be, and how much it will all cost. And a confused mind doesn’t buy. Take the time to break down your service delivery, step by step. Armed with a process, in a beautiful process graphic, you are ready to create service “packages” that lead to meaningful conversation and can close a sale more quickly and easily, eliminating the need for lengthy proposals.
6. Articles and/or videos that prove your expertise (content marketing): Once a prospect feels enough pain, he/she will go looking for a solution. How will they find your solution? How will they know that you are uniquely qualified to help them? How can you deliver value and educate the buyer, even before meeting him/her? “Content” is the new SEO (search engine optimization). Site content allows you to share your expertise with the world, in the form of written blog posts and/or videos.
7. A way to generate even more referrals (social marketing): Social marketing is the newest and least understood online strategy. Once you have a content marketing program up and running, you now have the opportunity to show up everywhere. Think about how can you re-purpose your blog content into a newsletter to email to your list. How can you promote the same content across social channels (in a helpful way) to find prospects who are looking for you? Your website can allow your readers to share your post on their social channels, and you can can customize your social channels so that they look like your website.
8. An up-to-date and backed-up website (backup and update service):
If you haven’t been the victim of a hacked site yet, I know first hand that it’s no fun. We can take strong measures to lock down sites and keep them safe, hackers spend their free time trying to find security vulnerabilities that arise when browsers and WP software and plugins are updated. Technology is a constantly moving target. With updated software and a weekly backup, it’s pretty simple to prevent and recover from a hacked site. Without a backup, it’s nearly impossible. It’s important to protect your site, and if this isn’t something you want to do, be sure that someone takes care of it for you.
Simple isn’t always easy, so tackle these strategies one at a time. Start now and a year from today you will have a perfect consultant website. Successful businesses know that marketing is never done. If you think you could use a hand, email firstname.lastname@example.org.