Is it better to have a clothes shop on Oxford Street or a dank back alley?
Of course, it is a rhetorical question.
We all know that it's easier to sell clothes where there are crowds of people shopping for the latest clothes. If only there was an Oxford Street where executives go to buy consultancy services.
In its absence, selling can eem a slog and strategiesconsultancy firms employ to try to flush out prospects include:
- Bombarding large numbers of people regularly with emails, phone calls and leaflets on the grounds that "it's a numbers game". This works well for certain products (but is expensive and often counterproductive for high value services like consultancy). While it may well be a "numbers game", often the costs involved mean as an approach it doesn't add up.
- Getting lots of invitations to tender (the favoured strategy with many firms). Great in theory but costly in practice. Doing lots of tenders, unless you have a high success rate, is costly.
- How do you get a high success rate? Well, there are lots of elements to a successful tender but ultimately most tenders are like a poker game - there are insiders and there are patsies. If you have not already built up lots of relationships and made yourself the insider, you are the patsy and have a low chance of success.
- Lots of high publicity marketing (such as PR, conference sponsorships, etc). These are great and can be effective (as the owner of a PR agency, you would expect me to say that) but such programmes take time to deliver and they certainly shouldn't be your only channel. They also can only be scaled to a certain degree - for instance there are only so many conferences you can speak at and so many times a publication will feature your articles.
Clearly the best solution would to be able to identify an "Oxford Street" where executives go when they have a business problem and are not sure how to tackle it.
Once upon a time, it was a difficult question to answer (perhaps they went to their non executive directors, perhaps they asked their banker or accountant, or was it all discussed down the golf club?).
Nowadays, the answer is straight forward. They look on Google - and for many businesses this is their Oxford Street
In fact, each month hundreds of searches are made for solutions to business problems and to track down consultancy suppliers. For instance, according to "inbound marketing" specialists Hubspot, each month of Google there are:
- 70 searches using the search phrases "technology consulting firms"
- 140 for "IT consulting firms"
- 30 for "outsourcing consultants"
- 110 for "strategy consultants"
- 170 for "strategy consulting firms"
- 480 for "business consultants"
Of course, getting to the top of Google involves a certain amount of effort - but not nearly as much as you would expect.
While it is incredibly hard to get to the top of searches for popular words like "insurance", "holidays", "pensions" and "restaurants". There isn't the competition for the sorts of search specific phrases buyers of consultancy services would use (like those listed above, for instance.
"Getting to the top of Google" is made easier for many consultancies too because many consultancy firms don't try!
Where does your practice appear? To find out simply open a browser (ideally in Private Browsing / Incognito mode) and put in the sort of searches that someone looking for your help might use.
If you're not on the first page, your shop window is on a darkened side street - when you want it to be on Oxford Street.