Best Practices: Management Consulting

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Management Consulting: Marketing Best Practices

Two effective marketing best practices for management consulting firms include promoting expertise in terms of case studies and reviews and using blogging for organic traffic.

1. TO PROMOTE EXPERTISE IN TERMS OF CASE STUDIES AND REVIEWS

EXPLANATION OF THE PRACTICE

  • Consulting firms have begun to provide reviews, case studies, and testimonials from previous clients as a way to showcase wins while giving consumers a chance to relate.
  • A Forbes survey found that the number of consumers who read and trust online reviews is increasing at a faster rate.
  • Customer's credibility can be maintained by displaying any honors or awards that the consultants have won, any significant work they have done or any works they have authored.
  • A small to medium business consultant must establish themselves as a thought leader, which represents one of the most effective marketing tools for independent contractors.

EVIDENCE OF EFFECTIVENESS

  • 88% of consumers trust online reviews and case studies as much as they trust personal recommendations.

EXAMPLE OF A COMPANY IMPLEMENTING THIS PRACTICE

  • Gartner, a medium size management consulting firm, implemented branding and value proposition in its offerings.
  • The company focused on building a strategy that differentiate them from their competitors in order to solve brand challenges.
  • Gartner believes that the combination of primary research, case study examples, toolkits, and templates can create a big impact on consumers.

2. USING BLOGGING TO DRIVE ORGANIC TRAFFIC

EXPLANATION OF THE PRACTICE

  • Blogging can be used as a tool to help management consulting businesses, especially for B2B firms, in the attraction of new clients.
  • Blogging is considered as one of the best marketing practices that can generate momentum over an extended period of time, as the same input can lead to a larger output down the line.
  • Blogging can be done through the company's own website or through different channels such as LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a creative outlet that allows companies to share their expertise in order to reach a wider, more focused audience, which would not be possible through traditional marketing methods.
  • Regular blogging can help small and medium-sized consulting firms in the generation of consulting leads due to the traffic they would receive from search engines and social media.

EVIDENCE OF EFFECTIVENESS

  • According to a recent Inbound marketing report, 80% of companies use blogging as a part of their marketing strategy to acquire customers.
  • 82% of small-sized businesses admit that blogging is critical to their business, as it helps to strengthen their business with new and existing customers.

EXAMPLE OF A COMPANY IMPLEMENTING THIS PRACTICE

  • Aepiphanni is a small-sized management consulting firm that serves business owners and entrepreneurs in the United States.
  • Aepiphanni adopted blogging as a marketing practice to attract customers.
  • The company primarily targets small enterprises and provides operational and strategic solutions to help them plan and navigate through the challenges of business growth.




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Management Consulting: Winning Clients

As noted by freelance career site Nation1099, professionals in the management consulting field "don’t have a long history of sharing or of publishing operational advice about running and growing their businesses," and where advice is available, it's largely confined to podcasts. This, combined with the fact that management consulting is an incredibly diverse industry (with Forbes, for example, listing over 30 categories), means that there are no publicly-published best practices on bringing potential clients over the last mile of their purchase journey, let alone best practices that we can prove that a given company employs successfully.

Below is a detailed briefing on our research strategy.

COMMON THEMES

While we are unable to provide concrete examples of winning client engagement practices which are demonstrably effective at landing new clients, we do find some very common themes in how management consulting firms represent themselves:


We would hypothesize that continuing to emphasize these traits throughout the client landing and onboarding process would fall into any company's best practices, but due to the incredibly diverse nature of consultancies, the precise best practices may depend almost entirely on the firm's target audience and the personal approaches of the project managers.

RESEARCH STRATEGY

We began our research by seeking content marketing pieces by small- to medium-sized management consulting firms on the topic of how to engage with new prospects. However, while we found a number of articles and blog posts which discuss various elements of the management consulting business, including onboarding and early client engagement, we found a dearth of material on engagement to "seal the deal," so to speak (as we interpreted the research criteria) and what is available came in the form of general advice articles that were not connected to any existing management consulting firm. As Nation1099 notes, "professionals in this field don’t have a long history of sharing or of publishing operational advice about running and growing their businesses," and where advice is available, it's largely confined to podcasts.

While Nation1099's article provides a good list of podcasts for independent management consultants to follow, attempting to find the best engagement practices in one or more podcasts, let alone practices that could be connected with specific consulting firms, would almost certainly require many hours of listening, which would take us outside of the scope of a single Wonder request.

Therefore, we took a more focused approach: We pulled Forbes' list of "America's Best Management Consulting Firms." As Forbes' profiles of each include revenue figures, we could easily determine which fit the size requirements of the report criteria. We then conducted a site-specific search of several suitable firms for articles, interviews, or other pages discussing how they handle their customers from the late sales to the early onboarding stages. This also ultimately proved unsuccessful. While each group happily shared successful case studies and general self-promotion — e.g., Censeo's CEO stating, "Clients really love our people because they are so approachable" or describing their "unique approach" to consultancy — they do not offer best practices beyond the most general.

One element that we do see as a repeated refrain across companies is their emphasis on competency. This, of course, amounts to advertising copy and gives no real insight into the companies' winning client engagements, though it does suggest that a client-winning engagement strategy focuses on demonstrating the firm's competence and professionalism from the time a potential client makes contact.

Ultimately, we are forced to concur with Nation1099's assessment that management consulting is an area where successful firms see no benefit to publicizing their best practices for bringing their clients across the last mile of the purchase journey. Furthermore, there is incredible diversity in management consulting, with Forbes' listing over 30 categories of management consultant firms which range from the automotive industry to data analytics to innovation & growth to sales & CRM. Best practices for client engagement in an automotive consultancy and a data analytics consultancy may have little to nothing in common.
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