Archive for the ‘Marketing & lead generation’ Category

Why build your consulting website using WordPress

Whether you are a just getting started as a consultant or whether you’re a seasoned veteran, chances are you will need a consulting website. Gone are the days where a business card will suffice when it comes to marketing your consulting business. You’re going to need a website.

The good news is that building a website is not as expensive as it used to be. And websites are becoming easier and easier to update and use.

If you are in the early stages of getting your consulting website set up, I suggest finding an IT consultant who is familiar with "WordPress" and having your consulting website built on WordPress.

What is WordPress? WordPress started out as free blog publishing software, but it is now used for more than just blogs. In fact, WordPress has been used by the Wall Street Journal, Ford, universities and many other large organizations. 

So, why build your consulting website using WordPress? Here are the top three reasons why you should build your consulting website using WordPress.

1. Inexpensive:

WordPress is free to use and inexpensive to install. Most IT consultants and firms are familiar with WordPress, and setting it up for you is a snap, which is generally reflected in the price.

Quick tip: Ensure that your WordPress site is installed on your own domain name (for example: www.yourbusinessname.com) rather than at the free WordPress blogging site (for example: www.yourbusinessname.wordpress.com).

2. Easy to use

WordPress is easy to use. And its popularity ensures that there are many online tutorials available for free. These tutorials can help you learn how to update your own website without having to rely on your IT consultant for every little change, such as changing your phone number or mailing address.

3. Standardized

If, in future, you would like to change the design of your consulting website, it will be easy to change because WordPress is standardized. You can easily buy new designs for your website, which most IT professionals should be able to install for you.

Are you looking for an IT professional to help you build your consulting website using WordPress? Check out the consultant directory.

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7 reasons to own a niche

1. Expertise

When you own a niche you are perceived as an expert in that niche. (And you will become an expert in that niche over time, if you aren’t already.) Customers feel more confident when they perceive you as an expert, and it’s easier to stand out in one area.

2. Clear elevator pitch

We’ve all met individuals at networking functions who stammer, "I’m a creative writer, but also do social media. And I love helping businesses with their financial books. And I sell audio files on the internet." When we hear someone with such a diverse range of interests and skills, it can be difficult to know what type of work to hire this consultant for, so we don’t end up hiring them at all.

On the other hand, if we meet someone with a very specific skill-set, such as, "I’m a fitness coach for pregnant women.", we may not need these services right away but we associate this consultant with a specific area of expertise. And when we have a need for such services, even years later, we will remember the specialist and seek her out.

3. Clear understanding of your market

When you own your niche you understand who your customers are. If you are an interior designer who specializes in the restaurant industry your customers are high-end restauranteurs. But if you are a general interior design consultant your customers are all homes and all businesses, which can be difficult to market to and stand out in.

4. Easier marketing – Direct to potential customers

When you own your niche and understand who your customers are, by default, you know where to market yourself. Advertising dollars are better spent and your message gets out to specific, potential customers more directly.

5. Your name is associated with your niche

You want people to associate you with a particular problem or situation. To use a basic analogy, if a man has gutter problems on his home he is more apt to flip to the yellow pages and contact "The Gutter Guy Co." rather than flip to the yellow pages and seek out a general handy man who may not be experienced with gutters–even if his price is lower. The same general rule applies to your consulting business. You want to be a specialist and you want to be known as "The Gutter Guy" or "The High-End Restaurant Interior Designer" or "The Fitness Coach for Pregnant Women."

6. Easier to stand out

When you own the niche it is easier to rise to the top–be it by word of mouth, in the yellow pages or in the search engine results.

7. Higher rates

Specialists earn more than generalists. It’s a fact! Customers are willing to pay for your expertise. Want to find out more about the elements that effect your rates and how much you can charge? Check out Consulting Fees: A Guide for Independent Consultants.

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6 business reasons to use Twitter

Twitter has really  taken off as a business tool. When I was at  the O’Reilly Strata conference a couple of months ago, I was really struck by how people in Silicon Valley just take Twitter for granted as a business tool. More recently, at networking events in Vancouver, I’ve been seeing more and more people adding their Twitter handles to business cards, "Hello my name is___" badges and even tent cards at seminars. Far from just a way for millenials and Demi Moore, Ashton Kutcher or Charlie Sheen, Twitter is increasingly a viable business tool.

While I’ve been on Twitter under my own name for a while, I’ve recently built out an account for Consultant Journal at @consultantj. I encourage you to follow me and say hi – maybe even ask me a question or two. I don’t bite. I promise.

Now, maybe you’re wondering why you should even bother with Twitter. With 140 characters as the limit for a message, what could you possibly gain from this? Well, there are tons of business reasons to bother with Twitter, even if you don’t want to get in the habit of "tweeting" (sending out messages) on your own.

Why use Twitter

  1. Learn from others. You can follow some of the world’s best known business leaders on Twitter – as well as some of the niche masters. Most major influencers are on Twitter, sharing their thoughts. It’s a quick, easy, free way to learn and be reminded of best practices and great insights.
  2. Follow the buzz. Even if you’re just a casual user of Twitter, you can find out what others in your world are talking about. That might mean hearing the latest buzz words or it may mean something more serious such as learning that a major prospective client is being hit with financial challenges.
  3. Find clients. Many other small and large businesses post their job and contract opportunities via Twitter. And, by engaging with people on Twitter, you may win work. I’ve been able to build some strategic partnerships with people I first met on Twitter.
  4. Stay connected. You can send a quick message to business contacts who can "retweet" it to their own followers or find other people to help you. I recently got advice on where to host a business event, simply by putting it out to my Twitter community.
  5. Reinforce community. At a business event last week, I met someone who’d recently followed me on Twitter and retweeted something I said. I recognized her face, name and business name and I was able to thank her in person and it gave us a great starting point for a conversation.
  6. Impress clients. Follow your clients and prospective clients. Learn about their businesses and follow the conversations they’re having with their clients, partners and even employees. You can share this knowledge with your clients and even tap into it in building out proposals or offering solutions.

Are you on Twitter? What reasons would you add to this list?

12 tips for managing your online reputation

Managing your online reputation is increasingly important. You may have have heard that dates, neighbours, clients and prospective employers may be looking you up online. But what exactly can you do about it?  Maybe you’ve heard that once something is online, it’s there forever. Well, while it’s difficult to remove stuff from the Internet, you can take steps to manage your online reputation.

12 tips for managing your online reputation

  1. Use a search engine to look yourself up. Most people go to Google, so start there. Note what comes up. Identify results you’d love people to see, results you never want them to see, and results that actually relate to someone else.
  2. Set up a Google alert to scan for your name and let you know when it shows up online. You can create a Google alert in mere seconds.  
  3.  Create a professional Twitter account and tweet about your industry, profession or business activities. Interact with others. Keep it professional.
  4.  Build a LinkedIn account. Load it with information on your experience, accomplishments and credentials. Ask your trusted contacts to provide recommendations. Take part in groups, Q&A and other forums.
  5.  Establish your own website, preferably using your own name or company name. From there, you can generate new, positive content. Many people use blogs to quickly publish new information – and help push down negative search results.
  6.  Create a Squidoo lens on a professional topic near and dear to your heart.
  7.  Set up free blogs on Blogger, WordPress and other sites. Keep the content professional. It’s a great way to quickly push up positive content in search engines. While you would usually want to keep a blog fresh and up to date, you can set up “extra” accounts if you really need to generate extra positive content under your name.
  8.  Guest write. Approach a popular blog, trade journal, professional association or even your alumni association and ask if you can write a free piece for their website or online newsletter.
  9.  Take part in intelligent, lively discussions on the websites, Facebook pages or Twitter feeds for your professional association, volunteer association or relevant hobbies.
  10.  Manage your Facebook, MySpace and other social media accounts carefully. Lock your privacy settings and only allow trusted friends and family to see your profile. If you don’t want prospective clients or employers to see you partying or looking goofy, use a generic image, a landscape, or a professional headshot. Consider removing yourself from search results.
  11.  Speak and take part in panel discussions for your local trade association, university, alumni association or other groups. In addition to building your credibility, you can improve your online presence if the organizations note your involvement on their websites, Facebook pages, LinkedIn groups or Twitter feeds.
  12. If you do find negative or distracting content about you, try contacting the owners of those websites to see if you can have the content removed. Some may oblige you.
 What steps would you recommend?

 

Who you calling an expert?

Who you calling an expert? Becoming a small business or independent consultant may seem out of reach to some of you because you just don’t think you’re enough of an expert to be a consultant.

Let me tell you right now that becoming an expert is not as complicated as it sounds. When you’re a consultant, you are offering your clients something of value–your expertise. But expertise doesn’t have to mean that you are the world’s foremost expert in your field. No, expertise just means that you have more insights than your client does on your given area of expertise.

For example, you may be a home staging consultant. Now, you may never be called on to provide staging services for Oprah, but you do know something about home staging, right? You’re passionate about home staging, you’re up on all the trends and you’ve even taking courses on the subject. And if your client is a color-blind bachelor who doesn’t know the difference between orange shag and a neutral berber carpet, then you are by all means a total expert in this situation. So don’t feel intimidated by the fact that you may not be a home staging guru to the stars. Rest assured that you can be an expert and provide value to your clients.

In order to build your confidence and really feel like an expert, there are numerous things you can do to jumpstart your expert status, from teaching a course, having an article published in an industry magazine, or providing services to a high-profile client in your community.

Whether you’re dreaming of consulting or are already running a business of your own, you probably know that gaining expert status can help you with building client relationships. That’s why we offer Six Tips for Jumpstarting Your Expert Status when you sign up for our newsletter.

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Use 3D charts and graphs at your own risk

3D bar charts and graphs may work against you. I’m at O’Reilly Strata to learn about big data. Of the many fabulous presentations this afternoon, I chose Naomi Robbins‘s "Communicating Data Clearly". Robbins is an expert on graphical data presentation. And she’s got some vivid examples of where using graphics to convey data can go really wrong — or really right.

 "Effective is not the same as beautiful," says Robbins. She showed several examples of gorgeous graphs that do little more than confuse the audience. Of all her examples, one stand out came from the ubiquitous 3D bar charts we tend to see in business presentations.

You know how it goes. You’re pulling together a report and you want to jazz it up with some pictures, make it speak to people a little more. So you generate a pretty bar chart.

3D bar chart

Take a good look at the chart. Now do me a favour, will ya? Tell me the values for A, B, C, D and E.

This is just what Robbins asked people at the conference to do. I’ve created my own chart here, but the idea and the exercise are hers.

Then look at this chart. Again, this is my chart, but it’s Robbins’s concept. She asked us if we could tell the values for the 2D bar chart below.

2D bar chart

As she noted, a chart like this one is pretty clear. Now, having seen the two charts, which set of data do you trust? Robbins encourages us to think it over.

It’s the same data!

Robbins noted that the 3D bar chart (from Excel, but similar problems pop up in other programs) don’t touch the wall and thus the lines and bars are off.

"Don’t use 3d bar charts — I don’t care what software you use!" says Robbins.

Robbis has many other examples of good and bad chart usage. You can pick up her book Creating More Effective Graphs:

 

Making a great first impression

Making a great first impression can make a big difference to your career. This guest post by Tim Grayling gives you 10 tips for making sure that first impression counts in your favour.

When it comes to landing the job of your dreams, enough can not be said about first impressions. Your education and job experience are a necessity when applying for the perfect job. These two factors are paramount, simply in giving you the opportunity to show why you are uniquely fit for the job you desire. Once you have secured a job interview the position is ultimately yours for the taking. All that is left is for to make and outstanding great impression on the person interviewing you. Keep in mind a few simple tips and you can ensure that you are viewed in a positive light; positioned to be the candidate of choice when it comes to the final hiring decision.

  1. Always be prepared. Plan ahead for your interview. There is a good chance that the person interviewing you already has a copy of your resume and a list of references; all the same, bring those along yourself just in case. Plan to discuss how your formal education has helped to make you uniquely qualified for the position you are applying for. Contemplate what makes you stand out.
  2. Dress for success. When choosing what to wear for your interview keep in mind the type of job that you are applying for. Generally speaking, it is best to dress as you would if you where already an employee. While you may look amazing in a tuxedo or in a formal evening dress, this is probably not the best choice when applying for a banker position. Conversely, what impression would be made if you showed up to that very same interview wearing a t-shirt and jeans? Know the job setting, and dress accordingly.
  3. Be on time. The very first impression that you will make to your prospective employer is that of your punctuality. Plan to arrive ten minutes early for your interview. You want to be appropriately early, not too early. Showing up for an interview too early is nearly as damaging to your first impression as showing up late.
  4. Make eye contact. While being interviewed, make certain to maintain positive eye contact. This is not to say that it is a good thing to coldly stare at your prospective employer. Rather, when speaking, maintain eye contact with your interviewer. This conveys a level of sincerity behind your words.
  5. Open body language. There is far more to a conversation than the words you choose. The way you present yourself will have a huge impact on the how you are perceived. Avoid closing your body off, for example, crossing your arms or sitting turned away from your interviewer. These subtle gestures will nearly unconsciously close down any open lines of communication.
  6. Courtesy goes a very long way. No matter what happens during your interview always maintain appropriate, professional, courtesy. How we maintain ourselves during an interview says a lot about our character. Make sure that you are conveying a message of respectful confidence at all times.
  7. Take your time. When answering questions do not feel as though you have to produce an immediate and rapid response. Take a few seconds to think about the question. This will not only improve the quality of your answers and it will demonstrate that you are taking the interview question seriously.
  8. Do not talk money. When it comes to an interview, it is generally best never to bring up money. Before you stepped into the interview, you in all likelihood had a general idea of what the position would pay. Conversely, so does the person interviewing you. Realistically, no great gain is to be had when discussing compensation early on. There is a time and a place for everything. Once a hiring decision has been made, that is generally when this subject will arise. This is not to say that the subject is completely off limits during an interview; it is simply best practice not to be the one to bring it up.
  9. Do not forget to smile. Smiling is a basic human response. It generally conveys a sense of conformability. During your interview, make sure to put a little grin on your face. This shows your potential employer that you are at ease. When you are comfortable, there is a good chance that the person interviewing you will be comfortable as well.
  10. Parting words. Upon the conclusion of your interview, make certain to thank the interviewer. You have just been given a portion of that person’s time so that they could access your qualities. Thank them for this valuable opportunity and show that their gift was not wasted on you.

When it comes to getting the job of your dreams, making a lasting, positive first impression is of the utmost importance. Follow these 10 tips on making a great first impression and the interview process for you, will be one of ease.

This article was written by Tim Grayling on behalf of OnlineMBA.com which serves as an online resource for those seeking the best online MBA.

Me on CBC discussing Toyota Highlander ad series

Here’s the audio for my interview on CBC yesterday. As mentioned earlier this week, I was on the air discussing the Toyota Highlander ad series.

Toyota has picked up on stats that show parents increasingly pay attention to their kids when choosing what car to buy. Whereas we’re used to parents choosing cars that accommodate booster seats, car seats, cup holders, DVD players, hockey gear, groceries and the like, now we’re seeing some marketing of cool. Of course, car companies have always marketed "cool" — it’s just that the cool of the previous generation is no longer cool. This ad, though, really picks up on the insecurities of the parents and is aimed at grabbing market share from people who’ve already decided they need an SUV — now they want something cool.

Many people are concerned that the point of this ad is to market cars to children. I’m not so sure. Toyota may be aiming for mindshare from teens here. I don’t think many kids and teens sit around watching ads — everything is on demand, PVR’d, DVD’d and so on. Maybe some teens are looking this campaign up on Youtube.. But I believe Toyota is leaving that to parents. Toyota purposefully developed this ad campaign to garner the ire of the parent bloggers who would push it out through all the social media channels and get it in front of other parents. Although those parent bloggers may not be the intended market for the campaign, they’re a key element in marketing this ad. The thing is that, if you’ve already decided that you "need" an SUV, it’s just a matter of deciding which one. If you’re struggling with the idea of a family car, this ad will grab you.  

As for me, I drive a decided uncool but very practical and fuel efficient Civic, complete with roof racks and a roof carrier. I prefer to walk when I can. And I don’t let my kids watch commercials.

Toyota Highlander ad series review

Toyota Highlander ad series — I’m posting the extended versions of several Toyota Highlander ads here.

On Tuesday on CBC Radio, I’m going to be discussing the Toyota Highlander ad series (audio link here) where the cute blond boy proclaims:

"Just because you’re a parent, doesn’t mean you have to be lame."

In advance, here are some clips of the Toyota Highlander ad series, which repeat that same tag line.

 Scatter Extended Version

Kid Cave extended version

Rolling Up extended version

Lost extended version

 Rockstar extended version

 

Squared Away extended version

Of course, Mazda had the "boy inside the man" thing going on seven years ago. Remember the zoom zoom boy, complete with suit and tie? Please forgive the video quality – I’ll replace it if someone sends along a better version.

Reinvention Summit & Free Ebook

I just got an email about the world’s first Virtual Summit on the future of storytelling – The Reinvention Summit. This Future of Storytelling Summit will be taking place online, November 11-22. There are 6 co-creators, 20 partners, 54 producers, and 100s of participants exploring the evolving boundaries and application of narrative. 32 hours of insights and strategies for how storytelling can reinvent the world.
 

Reinvention Summit

As they write:

We are gathering a new tribe of storytellers: change-makers, marketers, entrepreneurs, and creatives who see storytelling as critical to their work and mission. There’s a star-studded line-up of 25+ speakers with diverse backgrounds to lead teleseminars, interviews, and panel discussions that relate to the future of storytelling as our world goes through reinvention. All sessions are recorded for playback. The online summit includes lots of social networking, collaboration, and crowd-sourcing for those who feel inspired to play. Entry-level pricing starts at just $11.11. To learn more: visit www.reinventionsummit.com

They’ve provided you with a coupon for $25 OFF an Activators or Explorers Pass. Use code: REINVENTION

Get your free ebook, too:

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