Marketing Secrets for Consultants

Internet Advertising
Direct Mail
Develop a Routine
Choosing a consultant
About the author



"Implementing a no-frills marketing plan on a budget!"

by Kenneth Delahoussaye


What you are about to read is classified information and should not be shared with anyone. Ok, it's not exactly top-secret, but it could save the life of your business. If you are a consultant or self-employed individual, you know that your business absolutely depends on providing a quality product or service to your customer. Equally important, but often neglected, is getting critical exposure for your business. In order to get this exposure,  your business must have a sound marketing strategy. 
Unfortunately, many consultants lack any sort of marketing savvy. But don't panic! You don't need a MBA degree to do an effective job of marketing. My no-frills marketing tips are designed to give you an easy-to-follow marketing approach that includes direct mail and the internet. Best of all, these tips are absolutely free!  So sit back, relax, and enjoy!

Let me start by saying that I am NOT a marketing expert. My background is actually engineering and software design. But like so many other technical professionals in my field, I initially avoided anything to do with marketing, thinking that my technical skills would be more than enough to grow my consulting business. The fallacy became evident as I began to see a steady decline in income. Realizing the error of my ways, I set out on a mission to re-invent my business from the ground floor. The foundation would be a solid marketing plan.

I initially avoided anything to do with marketing, thinking that my technical skills would be more than enough to grow my consulting business.

The first thing is to realize is that an effective marketing strategy is not an extravagance, but a matter of survival. What's that you say? Your resources are limited and you don't want to spend thousands of dollars on a marketing consultant. While you may not have the luxury of unlimited disposable income, the good news is that you don't really need that expensive marketing consultant. Now, I'm not advising against the use of a marketing consultant. To the contrary, there are some really good ones out there who are well worth the investment if you can afford them. But if you're looking for a favorable marketing strategy for minimal investment, my no-frills approach is an option you should consider.

The plan focuses of two main parts: internet advertising and direct mail. The level and mix of these resources you use will depend heavily on your budget constraints. To be effective, you must first determine who your customers are. Answering this question is necessary in helping you decide how to reach your target audience. To determine who your customers are, take a hard look at the products and services you provide. 

To be effective, you must first determine who your customers are.

Choose one or two products or services which are likely to generate the greatest level of income and then concentrate on those. Remember that your success in marketing depends on being focused. Look at past customers in those areas and the industries they represent.


Internet advertising

Once you've identified your customers, you should begin working on an internet advertising strategy.  The advance of the world wide web has made the internet a powerful resource. Internet commerce has grown astronomically in recent years, making it a formidable means of income. One thing you should do in taking advantage of this resource is to get a website for your business if you don't already have one.  You can build the site yourself or hire someone to do it for you. Whatever method you choose, be sure that your site specifically identifies your products and services as clearly as possible. You can benefit greatly by viewing websites of competitors. 

Next, consider an internet advertising strategy. One example of an effective internet marketing tool is Google AdWords. AdWords are short text advertisements consisting of one title line and two content text lines, typically appearing to the right of the browser page. AdWords offers pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, and site-targeted advertising for both text and banner ads. 

One effective internet marketing tool is Google AdWords.

I have found AdWords to be a simple and effective way to get exposure.  One of the nice features is that you can set up preset spending limits on a daily or monthly basis.  On the down-side, if your ad is incorrectly targeted or is too general, results can be dismal and funds can quickly evaporate.  Fortunately, AdWorlds provides robust tools for evaluating your ad campaigns and allows you to adjust them on-the-fly if needed.  For more information about Google AdWords, click here


Direct Mail

Advertising through direct mail is another effective way to target potential customers. You'll first need to decide what type of liternature to send. Many advertising experts insist on a prescribed set of materials including a cover letter, brochure, and a reply card. While this method can be useful, there are other methods which can be equally effective. For instance, instead of mailing a complete set of materials contained in an envelope, consider sending a single oversize postcard. If designed properly, the response rate for your postcard can be very good. The simple reason is that a large percentage of traditional letter advertising is thrown in the trash without every being opened. Using postcards guarantees that your ad will be viewed and gives you an excellent chance to grab the interest of potential new customers.

Direct Mail Options - Pros/Cons
Traditional Letters
  • More ad space
  • Higher postage cost
  • Letters may be discarded without opening
  • Postcards
  • Lower postage costs
  • Potentially higher response rates
  • Limited ad space
    Designing an effective advertisement is not as difficult as you might think. All that is required is a good graphical design program and a bit of creativity. When designing an ad, carefully consider the content.  Make sure it is visually appealing so it captures the customer's interest. Don't simply present facts and figures, but give the customer the impression that he just can't live without your product.

    If you feel uncomfortable designing your own ad, there are many reputable ad agencies and mailing services that can help. If you choose to hire outside help, be sure to stay involved in the process from beginning to completion. After all, no one understands your product or service better than you. To ensure your satisfaction, provide detailed input to the ad designer(s). A sample postcard ad is shown below:


    Elementary School   
    Youngstown, NY 12345 

    While your ad is in production, you'll want to consider a mailing address list. There are several choices here: build your own list, purchase a list or rent one. The internet provides a vast resource of companies and information, allowing anyone to do a decent job of address collecting. But be advised that building your own list will be an arduous task. Consider renting a list for as little as $50 per 1000 addresses.  You can also buy a list but be willing to spend a bit more. The difference between buying and renting a list is quite simple. Renting a list gives you one-time use while buying permits multiple uses. When seeking out a list service, be sure to ask how often the they update their databases. Lists must be updated periodically to keep them current.


    Develop a routine

    Now that you have some new marketing strategies, I encourage you to begin implementing them. In no time you will begin to see positive results. But let me give a word of caution - don't let the successes lull you into a sense of complacency. Without a steady flow of prospects, business will eventually run dry.  Marketing is a discipline and must be followed routinely for continued success. Develop a schedule or plan of action and stick to it. For instance, decide that one day every other week will be devoted to marketing activities of some kind. This could include developing a new AdWord campaign, updating your webpage, contacting past clients, etc.  In the beginning, the routine may seem awkward or even unnatural. But in time, you will find that you are looking forward to developing new marketing strategies and will find the process enjoyable.



    Not sure how to proceed? Your research can begin with the following resources:

    Company Description Website
    Cactus Mailing Full color postcard design & mailing services.
    Wholesale Mailing Lists Professional mailing lists including consumer lists, business lists, and more.
    VistaPrint Graphic design and custom printing services.
    Melissa Data Many tools including free lookups of street addresses, zip codes, and much more!

    About the author

    Kenneth Delahoussaye is a software consultant specializing in realtime software and embedded firmware applications. He is the owner and founder of Kadtronix, a company which provides access control solutions. For information regarding his qualifications, click here. To contact him by phone or e-mail, click here.