I am a member of the Institute of Management Consultants and am active in the Phoenix, Arizona chapter. They have this great Email Tip of the Day that I subscribe to and it is the first thing I read in the mornings.
Today's tip was in the form of a question and answer about blogging. The question was:
Is blogging an effective way to get business?
Disappointingly, the answer was pretty lame and did not provide my fellow consultants with a clear picture of the benefits of blogging. A blog is such an effective tool that I think every consultant should have one. Blogging is a cutting-edge marketing tool that is immediate, personal, and engaging, and is within the financial reach of everyone.
The biggest challenge most consultants face is getting business. In fact, two of the three bullet-points on the IMC-USA website’s Education page are “Get Known” and “Get Business”, both of which are blogging’s strengths. Consultants can benefit from blogging is several ways:
Almost everyone with a problem to solve begins their quest for an answer with a Google search. There is no better way to raise your search engine rankings than a blog containing informative, engaging, and insightful content. Google likes fresh content and each blog post appears to Google as a new page, rasing your ranking. Not only that, other people who find your blog’s content informative will link to it, resulting in more links to you than you could afford to acquire by any other means.
Influential people read the blogosphere. A columnist for the Boston Globe is a regular reader of one of my blogs (and I read her blog too). There is no better way to get noticed by the mainstream press than to blog passionately about topics in your industry.
Direct Access to your Audience
Almost everyone has a story about spending time with a newspaper reporter only to either have the story spiked or appear so completely re-written that your original message disappeared. A blog is a way to bypass the gatekeepers in the media and get your message out to the audience most important to you: your current and potential customers.
Every consultant has his or her ‘What’ and ‘How’: ‘What you do’ and ‘How you do it’. The ‘What you do’ part is probably not unique. There are most likely several other consultants in your community doing exactly what you do. The important part is the ‘How’. You have probably developed your own unique ‘How’ and have demonstrated its effectiveness repeatedly. A blog is the perfect platform for showcasing your ‘How’ and its effectiveness, and is key to providing your potential clients with the perception of the difference between you and your competitors.
By blogging about your industry and writing about that which you are most knowledgeable, readers will begin to see you as a resource and authority on your topic. They will begin to trust you and your advice.
There is a second type of trust: personal trust. Through your blog, your current and potential clients will begin to see you not as a two-dimensional cardboard cutout but as a three-dimensional figure. They will connect with you and come to trust you enough to feel comfortable doing business with you.
A blog is part of a conversation. No aspect of blogging is more important. Our clients are smart and saavy. They participate in various online communities and learn from each other. We can ignore those online conversations, in which case our markets will get smarter faster than we do. Alternatively, we can participate in those online conversations and learn from them, and create an opportunity for the other participants to learn about us.
The other aspect to this conversation is that other experts in your field are already blogging. The blogosphere provides you with the equivalent to an online industry conference where you and your peers can learn from each other and share the latest trends and news.
Improve Your Image
Several years ago, having a website or email address was enough to present the image that you were forward-thinking technically and marketing-saavy. A blog does that for you today. If your competitors are not yet blogging then you are immediately differentiating yourself from the pack. And your blog demonstrates that you are open and honest in your business dealings.
The bottom line is that there is no better way for a consultant to showcase his or her talents and boost exposure than a blog.