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University of Massachusetts Amherst

Family Business Center

Five Fabulous Ways to Promote Consulting Services at Little or No Cost — Or Even Get Paid

by Shel Horowitz

Consultants are always asking how to get the word out. some produce expensive, slick brochures and presentations, hire telemarketers, etc.

I prefer a strategy of presenting myself as such a knowledgeable expert that clients seek me out. There are hundreds of ways to do this. Here are five of my favorites:

1) DEVELOP A SALES-ORIENTED SIG:

A sig is the "online business card" that you're allowed to attach to the end of your messages, even in very noncommercial parts of the Internet. So many people waste theirs with a cutesy funny saying or silly graphic, when it could be working for you day and night, long after you post (as people forward your mail, archive it on a website, etc.).

A hard-working sig has your name, e- and phone contact info (at a minimum), and benefit-focused summaries of what you do and why people should visit your website. Aim for five lines or less. And it should be targeted to the group you're addressing. I have over a dozen sigs that I use for different purposes (to promote myself as a speaker, radio guest, magazine editor, etc.)--here's one example that promotes my marketing services:

_________________

Shel Horowitz, Director—Accurate Writing & More (Northampton MA)

High-return, low-cost marketing materials and strategy development

Author, Marketing Without Megabucks: How to Sell Anything on a Shoestring

FREE monthly marketing tips, how-to articles, more: http://www.frugalfun.com

mailto:shel@frugalfun.com, 413-586-2388 (voice), 617-249-0153 (fax)

_________________

2) PARTICIPATE IN THE RIGHT INTERNET DISCUSSION GROUPS:

With literally hundreds of thousands of mailing lists, newsgroups and forums out there, there are bound to be a few that can help you grow your business. The best ones are those where you can both participate as an expert and at the same time learn and benefit from others. For example, as a book publisher, I've learned enormous amounts of information from my publisher's discussion group: contacts, resources, media opportunities, which printers are good and which should be avoided, etc. At the same time, publishers always need marketing services. Because I participate regularly with helpful advice, people have grown to trust me. And about 40 new clients have hired me, just from this one list. It was slow to start--took six months of almost daily participation to get my first client--but it sure has paid off since then!

Mailing lists come into your mailbox; newsgroups and forums live on a computer that you visit with your browser. Any of these can either be moderated (someone decides whether your message gets posted) or unmoderated (everything goes on automatically). Pick out a few that seem likely from www.liszt.com (e-mail mailing lists), www.dejanews.com (newsgroups), www.forumone.com (forums), or www.reference.com (various). Don't sign up for more than 2-3 at once, or you'll get overwhelmed. Personally, I like to get mailing lists in digest form: all the messages come in at once, in a big message that I can print out and read off-screen. Start by just listening in for a few days, until you get the flavor of the discussion group. Each has its own culture, and if you violate the culture, you've shot yourself in the foot. Many allow new members to post an introduction, which is an excellent opportunity to talk about what you do and how you can help listmates.

3) DEVELOP A SPEAKING PRACTICE:

This may eventually become a nice revenue stream. Target groups that contain the people who buy your service, and develop a few talks. Approach the program chairs and say you're available. Do a few for free to build your confidence and skills. Make sure you have some sort of free "leave-behind" (with useful information and all the ways to contact you) to give to everyone attending, as well as at least one informational product (book, cassette, software package, video) you can sell "back of the room" (BOR) after your speech. If you give a good presentation and you've targeted the group, people will seek you out for work assignments. Make sure to bring plenty of benefit-oriented business cards!

4) DISTRIBUTE ARTICLES TO PUBLICATIONS:

Paid or unpaid, a problem-solving article with your blurb and contact info can be a wonderful sales tool. I always see a spike in my web traffic when one of my articles comes out, and once people visit my website, it's a lot easier to convince them to do business with me. There are tens of thousands of online and print publications looking for new content all the time. And once again, over time, you may find decent paying markets that create another nice revenue stream. One tip: keep the rights so that you can distribute the articles elsewhere, and eventually compile them into a book.

5) PUT UP A WEBSITE:

It doesn't have to be fancy or expensive. I have over 200 articles on my site (totaling over 1200 pages if printed out) and paid NOTHING for either the content or the site design (the latter was a barter). I pay my $35 per year to have a domain name, and I pay $18 per month for my e-mail and a 10MB website. The site has brought me direct client assignments, book orders, media contacts, and much much more.

These five are among hundreds of practical marketing suggestions you'll find in my book, Marketing Without Megabucks: How to Sell Anything on a Shoestring, and on my website at http://www.frugalfun.com.

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