06 Jun Consulting firms missing the boat with social media
If you ask me, consulting firms and services companies are missing the boat with social media. I worked in that industry for 16 years – the story of the “shoemaker’s son” is never more relevant than in this one. Most consulting firms simply don’t put as much effort into things that don’t have an instant ROI. I get it – margin is king in that business. I’m not talking about freelancers and solopreneurs here – I’m talking about firms with staff that are out there fighting the good fight every day – and missing a major weapon in their arsenal. Let me tell you what that weapon is:
Online content curation is the biggest way services firms can compete today, especially when the content comes from their own consultants. But what I see most often are feeble attempts at blogs that are too long, self-promoting tweets and Facebook pages full of company party pictures. These don’t do anything for the majority of potential clients and potential employees researching them online. On Thursday, I’ll define a good process for finding and distributing good content but here I’d like to explain why this is so important for this industry.
In services firms, the primary differentiator (and sometimes the ONLY differentiator) is the quality of service provided. This is true even mores with intangible services like software development, legal and project management, landscape design or something else where it’s hard to “see” the product before the project is completed. In these cases the knowledge base of the employees or company overall is the selling point. I remember pulling top consultants out of billable jobs to go to meetings to discuss new projects. It was helpful for scoping the project, but even more helpful for showing a client the type of intellectual property our firm possessed. Often it was the determination of whether or not we got the job.
Think about how easy this is to do online if you have the right methodology and the discipline to keep at it. In fact, if I owned a services firm right now I’d have a community manager dedicated to curating and posting content on my blog, other people’s blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, BizSugar OPEN Forum, etc that showed my company’s expertise. Instead of losing billable revenue (which is expensive) I could pay someone to create that same strong impression online (which is cheap). Frankly, it’s easier and faster for a potential client to look up my expertise online than it is to try and get that in person meeting. And for recruiting it’s a no brainer. If you’re in an industry where talent is hard to find (and good talent is ALWAYS hard to find) they’re going to be more attracted to working with smart individuals like themselves, than a company that has disco balls in the office.
So sit down and figure out how to carve out time to start building your brand online through curating content – your own and other’s that you find interesting. It’s one of the most effective weapons you can have in your sales arsenal.