What The Coronavirus (COVID-19) Means For Consultant MarketingMar 31, 2020
Oil...water, consultants...marketing. In general, consultants are not the biggest fans of marketing, even in the best of times. The marketing challenge is definitely exacerbated in times like these, when there is a massive threat to our global health and economy.
But here's the deal - how you treat your clients (those you already know and are working with AND the ones you don't know yet that you meet through marketing) could define your consulting brand.
If you say and do nothing, you might be perceived as out of touch and irrelevant. If you get super aggressive, you might be seen as an ambulance chaser.
So what can you do? Let me give you a few ideas:
1. Make sure your auto-responders and messaging aren't tone deaf
- Update auto-responder emails for lead magnets with customized messages for today's situation. You don't want to come across like you're unaware of what is going on in the world.
- Pivot webinar descriptions, content and calls to action to be relevant to today's time. For example, if you were supposed to do a webinar about innovation in technology for CIO's, pivot your content to deal with the unexpected reality of a virtual workforce. If you're speaking on stress and burnout, make your key messages specific today's situation.
2. Stay grounded and full of trust
- Put on your "oxygen mask" and comfort the part of you that is freaking out. Find your higher self (the part of you that is connected to a higher power) that has the capacity to trust that even through everything might not work out the way you want, YOU will be okay.
- Find comfort in the small things. I am using the return of the dolphins to the Venetian Canal as my grounding image when I get anxious. I find it fascinating that this canal has been freed of its pollution and the dolphins are playing in it now. It's an image of hope that on the other side of crisis there is unspeakable beauty.
3. Get aggressive about smashing the myths and self-limiting beliefs about marketing that you have had for a while
This crisis is not the time to get stuck in your head about whether or not marketing is for you. If you're running your own business, marketing is for you. There is no way around that reality. You can run from marketing by signing up as a subcontractor for another firm or join forces with other consultants who dislike marketing as much as you do, but at some point if you want to be more than a pair of hands and serve as an executive advisor, you're going to need to embrace modern marketing. Which is really all about service.
Marketing isn't about shameless self-promotion. It's how you make known that you have something that your clients desperately need. If you discovered a cure for COVID-19, would you keep it to yourself? Of course not.
But you do have a cure for how companies can better handle decisions about layoffs or the overload of work that is required right now to survive. You do have cures in mind for what they can do on the other side as their business recovers and re-engages a traumatized workforce. You alone know this. You cannot keep this to yourself.
Replace the word "marketing" with "proactive advocate" because this is what getting the word out about the support you can offer. You're an advocate for what is your client's best interest - which is the key to attracting clients, convincing them to work with you AND influencing them to implement your recommendations and solutions.
4. With your existing clients, offer your availability on the process of how they are making decisions, not the content.
Your clients are probably organizing tasks forces and having special meetings on what they need to do to respond to this crisis. You don't need to prove your value by offering suggestions around the content of their work. They got this.
Instead, offer support around their decision-making processes. The global threat is igniting the collective survival brains of your clients. They are in "fight or flight" mode which cannot make the best decisions because the access to the executive functioning (pre-frontal cortex) is shut down. It requires someone like you, who has honed your mind to respond and not react, to offer your decision-making support either one-on-one with your executive clients or in facilitation of the senior team meetings.
If you're under contract with a client for any work, consider offering this type of support for no expense consideration.
5. With clients you haven't met yet, find creative ways to offer real and tangible value.
One thing Jen Hamilton (my COO) and I are doing to help both our existing and new clients is forming a think tank so that smart consultants and coaches can work together to co-create relevant and powerful business recovery solutions and use our time productively to up-level our own business foundations. This is a low-cost offer that empowers our community to use their strategic gifts in a collaborative way that will provide three benefits:
- Opportunities to connect deeply with other like-minded professionals who are in the same boat
- Use the time we have at home wisely and not waste it in worry or fear
- Elevate our profession together by being proactive and innovative with tangible offerings that will make a difference
(Click here if you want to be a part of our Think Tank. The group formally starts April 9, 2020, so definitely reach out asap if you want to join in.)
So what about you? What can you offer your current and future clients that will add the value that only you can add?
Take on your blocks about marketing and get the word out about how you can offer real and tangible help in the midst of a crisis.
Marketing, when done right, isn't about you. It's about the people you serve. You have gifts and talents are enjoyable, but that is not why you have them. You have them because you have a difference that only you can make. Calm your fears and redirect your focus from your imposter syndrome to your ideal client's need. Fan the flames of your desire to serve others so you can stop playing small, which NEVER is a winning strategy. But now it's urgent. You have a business cure. Don't keep it from the clients that need really need it.
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