Yesterday, I said to a friend over breakfast, “I’m meeting with a consultant today to talk about how to consult.” Puzzled, he asked, “How can she be a consultant if she does not know how to consult?” I smiled—point taken—and explained, “She’s been the head of a large corporate human resources department for 30 years. They recently gave her a pink slip (happening too often— a future blog). With her knowledge and experience, becoming a consultant is a logical next step since other companies have asked her to advice them in that capacity. What she does not know is how much to charge, how to draft proposals and contracts, whether she should opt to teach, train, mentor or advise.” As I finished that sentence, he was still scratching his head. This proved my point—we should not be confused about what we do or how we do it.
No matter what we do, there are so many players in the field that staying on target is more important than ever. Be succinct and summarize what you are saying, especially if your audience does not live in the world that you are referencing. What is interesting to you might seem useless to someone else. Don’t banter on too long; you will lose them if they are ready for whatever comes next.
Focus on your audience. Deliver what they want and need to hear in a way they will understand. Be careful to break down acronyms at first mention if you reference them. Explain trade words and phrases. Watch and note reactions and feedback. Have an open mind; everything is data collection. Your casual conversations, positive or negative, could impact strategy. Determining, refining and implementing strategy is what will make you stand out to consumers. You need to take the time to think through each stage of development.
“Position” yourself. I think I heard that term for the first time back in the 1980s, or was it the 1990s? Positioning is a concept that never went away. All markets are exceptionally crowded and customers are often confused and overwhelmed by many options. Determine your target market exactly—focus on a small niche or two with growth potential. Most importantly-be smart and efficient about finding customers that love what we sell and clear about what we do!