When it comes to the overall set of skills that define “consulting,” marketing is my weakest topic, which is the main reason it’s the third section of this book instead of the first.
Marketing is a little bit of a weakness for me because I was fortunate to start working for one consulting firm in Louisville, Kentucky in 1993, where I made a number of important contacts. When I later started my own consulting firm in 1996, I got back in touch with a few of these clients, and eventually did millions of dollars of business with them.
In part, I was able to initially make these contacts because the firm I joined had an established base of customers and four full-time salespeople. But, because they didn’t know anything about the Unix operating system or C programming, those were just starting points for me.
After leaving that firm I had to live out a one-year non-compete agreement, and during that year I worked as a regular employee at a Fortune 500 company. Although I’m horrible at networking, and I was a little burned out at that time and just felt like sitting in a cubicle while I lived out the terms of my non-compete agreement, I forced myself to get out most days and meet new people at this company. I eventually met the CIO, CEO, and several VP’s of the company, and when I later started my own consulting firm, these contacts eventually led to more than a million dollars in consulting fees.
As a result of all of these experiences I developed a simple marketing philosophy:
Once people get to know me, they’ve always been happy to do business with me. Therefore, I just need to find ways for people to get to know me.
Given that introduction, here are a few marketing techniques I’ve learned over the last twenty years.