In this five-part series, we’re looking at marketing tactics that can help boost your consulting business’ visibility and better sell your skills to the organizations that need them right now. Today we take a look at three ways you can engage your audience to remain top-of-mind when they need your services.
Welcome to the final installment in our Marketing Tactics for Independent Consultants series! Back in part one we discussed how to build your brand and looked at the ways in which social media offers opportunities for audience interaction. In part four, we showed how to increase your online presence and optimize your content for maximum engagement. Now, in part five, we’ll explore additional ways to connect with and engage your audience.
By varying the ways in which you interact with your target audience, you’ll be able to better maintain their interest while learning which channels they prefer. This will help you streamline your strategy and better focus your efforts for maximum impact.
The overarching goal for any ongoing engagement strategy is to stay top of mind with current and prospective clients. As business needs continue to rapidly evolve throughout the pandemic, executives are looking to stay ahead of trends and have resources at the ready for potential pivots. As we discussed in our tips for building your network (part 3), personal connections help establish trust while positioning you—and your unique skill set—as a go-to resource.
By delivering valuable insights and providing opportunities for personal interaction, you begin to build relationships that can grow into formal consulting arrangements. Here are three ways to do just that.
As we discussed in part two of our series, Becoming a Thought Leader, people increasingly prefer video to text, which has contributed to the growing popularity of webinars. Previously, we discussed the “why.” Now we’ll get into the “how.”
Start by identifying a business challenge that is timely and for which you can offer a unique perspective. This allows you to showcase your expertise while creating a sense of urgency. The business impacts of COVID-19 will continue to be top concern, so that’s a smart place to start when considering potential topics.
You’ll want to promote your webinar well in advance via social channels, your newsletter, placement on your website, and any other calendars on professional sites your target audience follows. Send reminder emails leading up to the event, particularly the day before.
When it comes to creating your actual webinar presentation, there are numerous resources out there that offer tips and tricks. The biggest thing to remember is that your slide deck shouldn’t be just a script you read, it should be a visual tool. Other best practices include:
- During registration, include the option to subscribe to your newsletter so you can stay connected with registrants afterwards. As discussed in part four of our series, keep your registration form simple to encourage maximum participation.
- Offer the opportunity for registrants to submit questions in advance. This will allow you to tailor your presentation to your audience’s most pressing needs.
- Log in to the webinar well in advance (at least 15 minutes) of the start time so you can double-check that everything is working properly and proactively address any technological issues.
- Start a little late to account for connection delays on your audience’s end, but not so late as to frustrate those who were on time. Two to three minutes should be enough of a buffer.
- Let attendees know how and when to interact with you throughout the webinar. It can help to have someone else on your end available to review incoming questions so your focus can remain on the audience.
- Use personal anecdotes and experiences to tailor the presentation to your expertise, but balance these with sourced facts and actionable advice.
- Record the meeting and send it to everyone who registered within 24-48 hours—they’re going to ask you for it anyway!
We’ve already talked a little about how speaking engagements can help establish your expertise. They also offer the opportunity to connect with your target audience in a meaningful way.
Though the pandemic has necessitated a shift from in-person gatherings to virtual events, this space matures daily and technology is continuously evolving to refine attendee and speaker experiences alike so that even the largest-scale conferences can be polished and compelling. Here’s how to get involved:
- Unless you already have conference organizers reaching out to you, you’ll have to reach out to them. Keep an eye out for “save the dates” and future sessions of industry conferences, and then identify a topic and submit a proposal. The upside to virtual conferences is that you’re not limited geographically—you can engage with your audience without ever leaving your own office (or couch).
- Look for conferences that both directly and tangentially relate to your area of expertise. As we discussed in part 3, networking outside your industry can yield surprising connections and opportunities for exciting projects.
- Once you’ve spoken at a few events, organizers will start seeking you out. They usually have a general theme they’re working with, but they recognize that the most compelling sessions are rooted in the passion of the speaker, so be prepared to pitch specific ideas for your engagement.
- You don’t have to go it alone. Panels and roundtables tend to be popular with attendees because their unscripted nature grants greater insight into the speakers’ personalities. As a participant, you get to showcase your expertise while interacting with—and learning from—other experts at the same time.
Not everyone in your target audience is going to be a conference-goer or webinar attendee. They might simply be too busy to commit larger chunks of time, or they might need proof that it would be time well spent. Shorter, more casual online events not only fit better into busy schedules; they also allow you to engage your audience in a more personal manner.
“Lunch with a Leader” and “Breakfast with the Boss” are examples of highly focused, yet comparatively informal opportunities to engage with your audience in short spurts and at times when they tend to have a bit more flexibility. Here are some thought-starters for tailoring these sorts of “mini-events” to your personality and expertise:
- Make it interactive, either by responding to comments in real time or by posting the topic and soliciting questions ahead of time.
- Keep to a strict time limit. This sets expectations and makes it easier for your audience to fit it into their day. A 15- or 20-minute lunchtime chat keeps the barrier to entry low, driving greater participation.
- Provide contact information so that if someone has a question that isn’t answered or they want to contract your services, they can reach you easily.
- Don’t give everything away for free, though! Interaction is important—and it can give you valuable insight into your audience’s concerns and interests—but consider focusing your Q&A on a single question each time so that you aren’t providing free consulting services on a rolling basis.
- Get creative with your themes or topics. For example, if you’re a product development expert, you could do a weekly Facebook Live mini-event where you discuss one or two new products and their impact on the industry. Or if you’re a data visualization whiz, you could share some of the most impactful graphics you’ve come across recently.
By now, you should have everything you need to supercharge your marketing strategy during the pandemic and well beyond. If you’re looking to connect with leading organizations on interesting consulting projects right now, apply to join the BTG community of independent consultants today.
About the AuthorMore Content by Emily Slayton