Thought Leadership Resources

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What kind of work do you really, really want to do for your clients?

Move out of repetitive, dull work you’ve done too many times before, through showing your clients you can help them in other, more interesting ways?
Escape the “commodity trap” – you’re performing the same functions as your competitors, which means you can’t raise your fees without getting undercut by someone who’ll work cheaper?
Stop “performing a function” for your clients, and move into being a strategic partner with them?

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Do you need to reach the top levels of your target clients, if you’re to sell your services successfully?

It could be that you do large, long-term projects with budgets that can only be signed off at the highest level. Or, you’re all about helping create strategic change, and that’s a top-level decision. Maybe you’re not targeting the top level yet in your work, but you want to be.

As I’ve found out in building my own business, reaching an organization’s top tier can be frustrating.

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Have you ever gone shopping for new shoes, clothing, electronics or whatever – and come across a product that is exactly right? The features you need, in the design that works best for you? That suddenly becomes a “must have” purchase for you – and the price isn’t much of a factor.

It’s not a coincidence. Manufacturers put a lot of effort into consumer research and testing – focus groups and other ways to find out what customers are looking for. Their purpose is to create a product that will appeal to the customers they want ...

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Imagine two business consultants, each meeting with a potential client for the first time. One consultant says to the client, “Here’s my business card.” The other says, “Here’s a copy of my book. Let me autograph it for you.”

Which meeting do you think is off to a better start?

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Publishing a book is an amazing way to show that “you’ve arrived” as a business professional.

But you may have found that making your book happen is like running a marathon – a long grind. And for many would-be authors, what holds them back is, a major barrier looming at the end of the process. It’s like the challenge that stands near the finish line on the Boston Marathon, “Heartbreak Hill,” described by the Boston Globe as:

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Where do you want to be, professionally, a few years from now? Do you want to –
   •  Meet the needs of an industry different from the one you serve now, maybe one that has always fascinated you?
   •  Get bigger clients, which are less likely to have a problem with the fees your work is worth?
   •  Become an advisor to your clients, offering strategic advice rather than a transactional service?
Well … get out your suitcase, we’re going traveling.

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Get your ideas into media already trusted by the people you want as clients,” is one of the central themes of this blog. Rather than just trusting to Google to drive potential clients towards your own website, it makes sense to fish where the fish are.

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Should you be putting more work into getting speaking engagements to build your personal profile as an expert in your field? Just maybe. Consider:

Potential clients get to see what you’re like as a person
You can interact with people from the stage, building a relationship with them
People at the event have more respect for what you say even in ordinary conversations, because you’re wearing that “Speaker” badge (It works! Really!!)
It looks good on social media, on your CV and on your LinkedIn profile

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 As I pointed out in Post #55, you need to create content that engages and interests clients, not just you. Particularly, this involves creating content that has them and their interests at heart.

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If you’re like many of the business professionals I work with, you have a pressing need to build strong relationships with your clients, so you can get more repeat engagements without having to constantly hunt out new clients.

One way to do that is through standing out as offering something extra.

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Suddenly, podcasting is hot. It’s taken a combination of smartphones that can download online files easily, earbuds and noise-canceling headphones, easy-to-use recording hardware and software – and not the least, places like iTunes and Stitcher to make one’s podcast findable online. But podcasting has moved from geeky to cool, when it comes to getting your ideas in front of potential clients.

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Do you offer services that can be filled by other business professionals? Almost certainly, yes. If your service is so narrow that there’s no competition, there’s probably not much of a market for it either.

So how do you give clients a reason to choose you over a competitor? The procedures you follow may be the same – and may actually be dictated by regulations or professional practice. Your pricing is about the same. So how do you stand out, and also avoid a race to the bottom regarding your fees?

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