Just like vendors need to stand up and provide a vision, consultants need to sit down (with executives) and provide the execution clarity that will get buyers on the fast-track to procurement, organizational, industrial, and economic success. More specifically, at this time, they need to:
- Focus on a Niche
- Establish Thought Leadership
- Create Brand Awareness
- Outline an Organizational Path for Long Term Success
Focus on a Niche
In this market, failure is not an option and no wants an old-school consultant who says “yes” first and figures it out later. Identify what you’re good at, how you can deliver significant value, and, more importantly, how you can identify significant value now. In this type of market, sound long-term planning tends to fall by the wayside, so even though it’s the most important thing a company can do, chances are, they’re only going to spend on short-term initiatives until you prove that you can deliver the goods.
Establish Thought Leadership
There are hundreds of other consulting providers out there. If you don’t believe me, check my Company Listing on the resource site. Why should they use you? How do they know that you know your stuff? How do they know that you’re on a path of continual improvement? How do they know that you’re focussed on being the best? If you don’t establish thought leadership, they don’t … which means that your only chance of success is if the other firms the customer is considering also don’t have any thought leadership and you want to compete on price, not on value.
Create Brand Awareness
This means that, contrary to popular belief, you have to market, market, market. You need permanent brand visibility so that when people have a problem in your niche, they call you. This doesn’t mean expensive print ads in magazines no one looks at (despite impressive sounding circulation numbers), this doesn’t mean sponsoring expensive analyst reports year after year (especially considering that many of the A-level analysts have departed the big firms in the last few years), and it doesn’t mean hiring a VP of Marketing who’ll come in, use up a lot of your budget, and recommend the same-old same-old that didn’t work at the last company he was at. What it does mean is that you need to tap into the channels where your customer base already is. Speaking engagements at key events, sponsored educational webinars for appropriate professional societies, and, most importantly, the blogs … where educated, innovative, progressive buyers go for information and illumination on a daily basis.
Outline an Organizational Path for Long-Term Success
Although you need a quick-hit ROI niche to get that initial engagement, you don’t want to be seen as a one-trick pony. It’s important to have a plan that will allow you to guide your customers down a recovery path that will take them to long term success.