As a consultant, what do you want from your marketing?
Revenue, for one. You want your marketing to bring you new clients and help you to expand relationships with existing clients, at a solid ROI.
You probably also want stability. Feast-or-famine is no way to live. You want your marketing system to reliably generate leads on an ongoing basis. I would.
That’s a place all consultants want to be in.
But the fact is that most consultants aren’t doing what they need to do to put themselves in that position.
How are they doing that?
By focusing on tactics, instead of verifiable long-term marketing strategies, you put yourself in a position to fail (or at least suffer) in the long-term.
And I would argue that thought leadership content marketing is the one strategy that you can say would have been a worthwhile investment twenty years ago, now, and twenty years from now.
Let me explain.
Effective Marketing Tactics Change Over Time
Effective marketing tactics come and go. They sway with the wind — think about it. The popular tactics of today weren’t necessarily the most effective tactics of ten years ago.
But first, let’s define what I mean when I say “marketing tactics.”
Tactics include things like LinkedIn outreach. Or cold email. Or Facebook Ads. Or even SEO. A tactic is a particular channel or activity that you can leverage. Tactics should be a small piece of a broader marketing strategy that you have for your business.
The ROI generated by these tactics varies greatly over time.
Let’s take LinkedIn outreach for example. LinkedIn outreach is the practice of connecting with people on LinkedIn, and sending them private messages to win new clients.
If you were an early adopter of this tactic, you probably raked in the dough. When no one was doing it and receiving a thoughtful message on LinkedIn was new, winning new clients was easy.
Today, not so much. If you spend on LinkedIn you probably have seen the platform become flooded with automated outreach messages like this one:
You’re probably sick of them. We all are.
But what does that mean for the people that were stacking money hand-over-fist with LinkedIn outreach a few years ago? Well, they probably aren’t anymore — that is what it means.
The platform got flooded with low-quality, automatically generated outreach and as a result, it’s hard for anyone to get noticed now. People just don’t read those messages. Even if you personalize them and wrote each one by hand, a significant portion of the people that you send it to would assume that it was automated and never even bother to read it.
Building your entire marketing strategy around LinkedIn outreach would leave you in a serious lurch right now.
SEO is another great example. If you had gotten your start with SEO twenty years ago, you would have been raking in the dough for two decades and be sitting in an exceptionally solid position now.
But getting started now? It’s just not a possibility for most consultants. There are huge VC-backed companies with gigantic content teams and budgets to match writing about nearly every relevant topic in search. It’s extremely competitive and can take years before you start to see any impressive results that you are probably hoping for.
Now, that isn’t to say that consultants should not employ these tactics while they are working. You should. But those tactics should be a small piece of a bigger puzzle that is built around time-tested marketing strategies.
Why Thought Leadership Content Is Always Effective, Regardless of Tactics
There are a few time-tested marketing strategies that will always be effective for consultants, no matter what. And content marketing is one of them.
- Networking & referrals. When you know people, you spot more opportunities and they recommend you more often. Both in-person and online networking are always going to be effective strategies for consultants.
- Public speaking. As a consultant, you need to demonstrate your expertise. That is what people hire you for. Public speaking is simply a way to get your experience and expertise in front of groups of people.
- Creating thought leadership content. Writing articles, white papers, and social media content is another way to get your experience and expertise (your bread and butter) in front of your target audience.
As a consultant, your expertise is your business.
Your marketing strategy should be built around putting those on display for newly aware prospects, prospects that are being nurtured, and current clients.
The tactics we discussed above mostly deal with how you are going to get that expertise in front of your audience. Often, that means content, both shortform (social media) and longform (blog posts).
In SEO, you would rank for related keywords and get your expertise in front of interested people that were searching for that problem.
The same can be said for LinkedIn outreach or cold email. Yes, you are establishing an initial connection with prospects. But ultimately you are hoping that the interest created by that initial conversation will lead to those prospects seeing you as an authority and ultimately, hiring you.
Thought leadership content can be effective on any channel and across any tactic.
You could publish thought leadership videos on YouTube. You could write on your blog and share it on social media. You could bake it into cold outreach campaigns. You could get it in front of your audience through ads.
An investment in thought leadership content is an investment in assets that will pay off for years to come, across any tactic that you choose to employ.
Investing in thought leadership content is, at its most basic, you choosing to embrace the simple fact that consultants are hired because of their expertise, and making it easy on yourself as possible to put it on display.
If You Could Go Back 20 Years, Where Would You Invest?
This is another good way to look at it.
What is the one thing that you could have spent your marketing budget on twenty years ago that would still be paying off for you today?
Thought leadership content.
Sure, you may have to update the content for more modern times. But the relationships that you established because of your content two decades ago could still be delivering benefits for you today — through direct revenue or referrals.
Those same ideas and insights that you shared could be shared, recovered, or reformatted for new channels, but remain relevant.
After twenty years of thought leadership content marketing, you would have attracted so many more clients and built an incredible number of important relationships in that time.
That is why you shouldn’t wait to invest in content marketing as a consultant.
Don’t Put Content On the Backburner
Why wait? As a consultant, your ability to deliver valuable insights and put your expertise on display is perhaps the largest determining factor in your ability to sign new clients.
Putting it off to chase the popular tactic of the day doesn’t make sense. In fact, the popular tactic of the day would be even more effective with some solid thought leadership content backing it.