Internet Marketing for Small Consulting Firms. A Primer on Promotion and Placement
Any consultant knows that marketing is an important aspect of building the business. As discussed in a previous article (marketing differentiation ), the core of successful strategy is to clearly build and communicate unique differentiated value. After settling on a strategy for differentiated value, the next task is to promote the company into the identified market segments. This is an area where one can spend enormous amounts of money with little incremental benefit, but this article will show that a smart consulting firm can in fact gain significant interest by using the appropriate promotion tools.
Let’s start with a list of the major available tools for promotion:
- Basic Signage: Business cards, Sign for your office, and simple marketing literature
- Outdoor Advertising: Billboards at various locations
- Media: Commercials in various media (Magazines, TV, Radio, Newspaper)
- Directories: Yellow Pages, chamber of commerce, or internet directories.
- Internet Search: Content and Advertising
- Networking: Physical (Chamber) and Internet (facebook, linkedin, etc)
For consulting firms, the most effective methods for promotion/placements in priority order are:
- Basic Signage: Although mobile devices are developing “apps” to communicate some of this information, a small investment in basic signage is well worthwhile.
- Internet Search: Given that most consumer research begins on the internet, becoming visible to the internet search engines is exceedingly important. Spending advertising dollars on search engines can provide some short term results, but a far more effective strategy is to build interesting content connected to your points of differentiation.
- Internet Networking: Gaining clients through networks builds the trust which will encourage a potential client to engage with your consulting practice. In this context, business networks such as Linkedin can be very useful.
- Internet Directories: Listing on the appropriate internet directories helps to build a broader presence, and provides other mechanisms for search engines to discover your business. Typically, advertising investments in platforms such as YP.com do not make sense, because these limited search engines are generally not as effective as global search engines such as Google/Bing.
Done correctly, the above four techniques can be incredibly effective, and as shown in the following article (ptr to article) , cost as little as $50/month. As for the other promotion tools,
- media and outdoor promotion can be helpful in building general branding, but can also be very expensive. Unless you are willing large amounts of money, the benefit is limited.
- all the physical tools (Yellow page book, Chamber networking events, etc..) have limited value and are generally not very efficient.
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