Why Most Small Consulting Businesses Fail At Marketing

When I’m called in on a rescue mission — “my small consulting business needs to start making more money yesterday!” — the first and biggest problem always rests with this understanding:

The real money in any consulting business is not in doing what you do, it is in becoming better at marketing what you do.

The notion that if you just do a great job your business will grow is flat-out wrong. Sure, it sounds nice. But if I had a penny for every excellent consulting and service company I’ve watched go down the tubes because of this idea … well, I’d have a heck of a lot of pennies.

For every one “consultant that never marketed” success story, there are thousands of capable consultants who were great at what they did and sunk like an anchor because no one knew it and those who did … didn’t value it.

Closely related to this problem is the “I’ve got one great way to get clients and I don’t need any more” syndrome.

I’ve heard this from consultants who cold call to get business, then don’t understand why their income goes in cycles and their businesses won’t scale. And I’ve heard it from consulting firms who use a strategy that works great for a while, but suddenly stops working … leaving the consultant without a backup plan.

There are few business problems better marketing can’t solve or make easier to solve. Yet so many small consulting firms, especially those with first-time owners, consider it last. Almost as an afterthought.

Over at Guerilla Marketing for Consultants, they published their list of the 10 most common marketing pitfalls. Numbers 6 and 10 prompted this post.

6. Dabble in marketing. You can’t just throw an article or two out there and expect clients to take notice of you. Successful marketing requires sustained, consistent, and coordinated effort.
10. Dread marketing. Consulting is a marketing business. If you don’t enjoy marketing, the road will seem like–and be–one pothole after another.

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