Welcome to the “Rainmaker Series” Friday blog. Hopefully you’ve noticed that I’m dedicating Fridays to tips for accounting and financial professionals in the art of rainmaking. We’ve discussed that bringing in revenue (“rainmaking”) is not magic, but is essential to growing your service based consulting practice. Last week, we focused on direct strategies (meeting people in one-on-one networking situations) to begin developing relationships with potential clients and leads.
This week, I’m going to share the benefits of using indirect strategies in conjunction with the direct strategies to continue building that relationship at the potential customer’s leisure!
Building the relationship at the customer’s leisure? What the heck does that mean? Quite simply, it is about allowing your potential target customer to find out about you, not in a face-to-face environment, but virtually, when it fits into their schedule. I’m talking about things like a robust website, informative newsletter, interesting blog, and catchy social media, to name a few. The key is that these items are still generated by you to send the messages that you’d like to deliver, but they can be viewed passively by your audience when they are ready to consume them – on-demand, if you will. Obviously, the more compelling the information you put out there on your own behalf, the better the chance to grow your audience, and ultimately, your client base as you are viewed as a subject matter expert.
Since there are various ways a potential client can consume the information about you, it’s also important to use a variety of these methods.
Website: It is important to regularly review your own website to see what others are seeing, and also to ensure that the information on it hasn’t become stale. Does your homepage accurately reflect what your company does? Is it easy to navigate through the website? Is your value proposition clear? Have you added calls to action to various sections? Have you incorporated videos? Is it easy for someone to find out more? If the answers to these questions are all “YES”, then you are doing a great job. If not, consider what it would take to get to yes. Maybe an overall website analysis is in order.
Newsletter: A friend and colleague told me many years ago that the key to a newsletter is consistency. Provide quality information in a format that your customers or targets will begin to recognize and expect at periodic intervals (preferably at least monthly). That will get them into a habit of reading your content. The content should also be somewhat consistent. As a consultant or service provider, a good newsletter layout may be to offer a useful technical article related to something you consult about, plus a guest article from someone in your network, plus a “what’s happening” section to talk about your upcoming speaking topics or other items of interest. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be very long. I’ve learned over time that consistency and short (but compelling) content are more important than length!
Blogs: What is true for the newsletter is also true of the blog. Consistent blogging (for instance, posting every week on Wednesdays) is also key because it keeps your website fresh with new content. While search engine optimization is a very complicated science of its own, there is evidence that regularly updating your website (by way of posting blogs) is a way to keep the search-engine-gods coming back regularly as well – and that’s always good! Also, blogs are a great way to multi-purpose your written materials. Blog articles can become fodder for your newsletter, or a great way to build credibility with your client about your industry trends.
Social media: With so many choices out there, it’s hard to want to spend a lot of time on social media when the images and posts disappear so quickly. However, it is amazing how many touches you are likely to get just from people seeing your name and an article or interesting fact or link to a relevant story in your industry. A combination of different social media tools is also a good idea. Where do your clients and targets “hang out”? Is it mostly Linked-In? Facebook? Twitter? Google+? Instagram? Something else? Hanging out there with them will get you noticed.
We’ve just scratched the surface on these indirect strategies, and there are several other sources of indirect touches, including podcasts and recorded webinars (particularly those that can be accessed for several weeks or months after the live event has taken place). If you are fortunate to have been interviewed on camera and have a short video feed of that, it can be prominently displayed on your website, as can published articles or other media quotes. The key with indirect strategies (and direct strategies as well) is to determine what works for you and is fun. If it’s not fun, you won’t do it consistently. And that will undermine your own best intentions.
Hopefully, you’ve enjoyed reading this blog (at your leisure), and will come back next week, when I’ll address follow-thru strategies. Spoiler alert – my lesson from that blog will be “If you’re not going to do the follow up, you might as well not bother with the direct or indirect strategies!”
Monika Miles is President of Miles Consulting Group, a firm specializing in multi-state tax consulting for middle market businesses. Clients include technology, manufacturing, software and SaaS based companies doing businesses across state lines. Miles Consulting Group assists them in determining the sales tax and income tax ramifications of creating a taxable presence in a state and how to address these issues with the various states. When she’s not assisting clients with multi-state tax issues, she passionately shares Rainmaker strategies with other professional services firms. Join us for our “Jumpstart Your Rainmaking” webinar series coming up in January. Click here for more information.