Soft marketing supports and image enhancement strategies require
as much consideration as any other portion of your marketing plan.
How you go about this will depend to some extent on your type of
business and also on your personal comfort level relative to the
extracurricular activities. Here are but a few examples:
Becoming a member in a service club is not something everyone enjoys.
Such clubs do give you a great opportunity to meet other businesspeople,
and few of us would argue the merits of the community work accomplished
by these organizations.
The decision to go this route is obviously a very personal matter.
A cautionary note for the newly self-employed: don't overextend
yourself by taking on too many club responsibilities in the first
year. There will be time enough to increase your participation once
you have your company on firmer ground.
Chamber of Commerce/Board of Trade
The advantages of joining either of these two organizations parallel
what you can accomplish by becoming involved in a service club.
The Chamber of Commerce and Board of Trade focus specifically on
business issues and networking. There is a great opportunity to
acquire germane information from the guest speakers who tend to
frequent their functions.
Before leaping into a decision, check with some of your business
associates and maybe attend a few meetings to see if this is a good
fit for you and your company. The cautionary note I raised under
the service club heading also applies to this area.
Joining a professional association can be an excellent way to meet
a wide variety of other businesspeople who might utilize the services
of your company. At the same time, such associations can provide
a great venue for you to keep current on what is transpiring in
your field of endeavour.
This is a more overt method of getting your name in front of the
public. It is certainly not a route chosen by every consultant.
One of my associates is involved in minor hockey, and sponsoring
a team is his way to give something back to the community while
at the same time putting in a good word for his company.
I know people who annually sponsor a hospitality suite during the
yearly conference put on by their professional association. The
list of examples is endless. You do need to bear in mind the cost,
even more so while you are starting up your company.
Guest Speaking and TV Appearances
By becoming a consultant, you are saying you are an expert in a
certain area. Take every opportunity to get your message across
to various groups. Often you are not selling your services or products,
but you are using a speaking venue as a means to illustrate your
knowledge about topics relating to your business.
You might discover that the observations you have put forth in
a recent proposal for service are easily transformed into an interesting
and informative article.
If you systematically make yourself available as a guest speaker
(Editor's note: Congratulations! You are already doing this by listing
in Sources!), you will be amazed at how quickly people begin naturally
to think of you as the expert. Public speaking can also lead to
TV or radio appearances on business shows or as a panel member at
a symposium. Speaking is not for everyone, but remember: it's important
to make effective presentations.
Articles in Newspapers, Magazines and Journals
Getting your name in print is a good way to build awareness about
your company. Not everyone is a professional writer but stop and
consider just how many times you have been asked to prepare a formal
Before you put pen to paper or fingers to the keyboard, take the
time to review some of the newspaper or magazine articles written
by your peers. You might discover that the observations you have
put forth in a recent proposal for service are easily transformed
into an interesting and informative article.
Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Do a little rewriting and editing
and send your article to a couple of potential users and see what
happens. You might want to start off small by offering your work
to an organization that has a newsletter relating to your type of
business. If you know someone in the publishing business, phone
and get some input.
Reprinted with permission from
From Starting to Marketing
Your Own Consulting Business
by Reg Pirie. Reg Pirie is an independent consultant and author.