I have a feeling this month’s BrandingWire project is going to be popular for many marketing bloggers. I’m hoping it elicits some strong opinions! Our project is to tackle how a small B2B marketing consulting firm should brand and market themselves. I know many bloggers who participate in the marketing blog community and many of them own or work for B2B marketing consulting firms. From branding to search engine marketing, the type of marketing consulting varies but the goals remain the same.
A side note – you’re going to get a different perspective from me. I happen to be on the client side BUT, have some strong opinions on how a marketing consulting firm should go about getting my business.
On occasion over the last few years, I’ve interviewed some local B2B marketing consulting firms to help us with various problems or improvements we’ve wanted to make. Rarely do the engagements go past the first meeting. Maybe it’s me. Maybe I’m expecting too much, but when my small budget is on the line I better have confidence that they can perform the task at hand better than me.
Here is how I believe a marketing firm should market and brand themselves.
Stick With Who You Are: Marketing has evolved so much over the last few years that the amount of marketing functions is hard to track. There is branding, email marketing, SEM/SEO, web design, blogging, paid search, etc. We had considered outsourcing our SEO and had interviewed many consultants. I would ask each firm on the phone if they had SEO professionals in house and each would say yes. When they arrived for a meeting it was obvious the company’s web designer was now an SEO professional or they would say they’re “partnering” with another firm on this project. Well, I know a bit more than your average person about SEO so it was easy to see that they really didn’t understand the trade. I think you need to brand and market to your skills and not pretend you’re something you’re not.
Speak Out: If you’re primarily a local consulting firm, than I think you should be working at getting speaking engagements and local or national industry events. Being seen as a speaker promotes yourself as an expert and therefore shines positively upon your consulting practice.
Be That Company People Have Heard About: Getting involved in local chamber events and doing the networking side of the business is a must. I believe alot of customer engagements start with meeting potential customers or people that can point you towards those customers at local networking events.
Be Heard: I’ll be honest, the top two or three consultants we had in were people who had blogs that I read or podcasts to which I listened. I felt like I had the chance to get to know them and learn that they were experts in their field before we even met.
Be Search-able: Whatever you do online – whether that is a website, blog, podcast, etc. – make sure you’ve optimized for local search. The first thing I did was go to Google and look for Minneapolis consultants. If I couldn’t find you online, I was going to have a tough time finding you.
Be Prepared: As a buyer of consulting services, I can tell you that I need to know about your company and with whom you’ve done business. In our first meeting I’d like to know how big or small you are, what areas of expertise you have in house, and examples of projects you’ve recently done.
How Will We Work Together?: This might not be a popular opinion, but I think alot of branding happens as you present yourself to a prospect. I think companies can set themselves apart by how well they present their processes. Too many companies have walked into my office and left me wondering how we were going to work together. Professional presentations and outlines of how you typically go about working with customers goes a long way.
Price Wisely: I’m not the type of buyer that always jumps at the lowest price. In fact, I think the lowest bidder usually gets tossed out of consideration. How you price your services says alot about how you perceive the work you will do.
If I stepped out today and turned the Lonely Marketer into a marketing consulting firm, these are the elements on which I would focus when developing my branding and marketing strategy. Marketing consultants are in a competitive field and each step in the vendor/customer relationship is crucial.