Many business people – professionals, entrepreneurs and executives – are aiming to become a consultant at a certain point of their career – this includes me.
Becoming a consultant – an Inbound Marketing consultant – has always been my choice of career when I am ‘retiring’ from entrepreneurship, other than life coaching.
“Inbound marketing” in a glimpse:
Inbound marketing is promoting a company through blogs, podcasts, video, eBooks, e-newsletters, whitepapers, SEO, social media marketing, and other forms of content marketing which serve to attract customers. (source)
Recently, I am considering my options whether I should turn the ‘retirement’ career path of mine into a real business more sooner than latter.
My reason: The window of opportunity is there, and as I am approaching my first 10 years as an online entrepreneur, I feel that it’s time to ‘formalize’ what I know and ‘package’ it into a service that will help businesses and individuals to launch, grow and transform their web-based businesses.
There are, of course, things to prepare before I get both of my hands and feet dirty, plunging myself in the consulting world. If you have a similar interest as mine, let’s go a bit deep on the 101’s of Inbound Marketing consulting business.
The consulting industry is a multi-billion dollar industry that covers a wide array of ‘niches’ – HR consulting, marketing consulting, Internet consulting, engineering consulting, etc.
In the US alone, the market size for management consulting is a $40+ billion. Up high in the list of most-demanded type of consulting is those involved in guiding companies, big or small, into the digital world – things like cloud computing technology adoption, mobile tech adoption, content marketing, social media marketing, remote working, etc.
- 54 percent more leads are generated by inbound tactics than traditional paid marketing;
- Twice as many marketers say that inbound marketing campaigns deliver below average cost per lead than outbound methods;
- Inbound marketing saves companies an average of $20,000 annually.
Getting started in an Inbound marketing consulting business is both simple and complex.
Here’s why it’s simple: What you need to do is to find clients, especially those that can give you retainer incomes, and grow your business one client at a time. No overwhelming initial capital.
On the flip side, here’s why it’s complex: Securing clients can be challenging, as you need to establish your reputation beforehand before you can ‘consult’ them. You need to be the expert in Inbound Marketing (read: a practitioner) and build a portfolio to show to your clients.
Things to consider
Starting an Inbound Marketing consulting business, you need to understand that you are doing business in a dynamic market, which means that you need to be comfortable with uncertainties and sudden shift of the market.
There are some factors you need to consider.
What if my recommended action plans didn’t work – or even worse, backfire?
To be honest with you, here’s what I always have my doubts on: What if I can’t deliver what I promise? I know this sounds so pessimistic, but let’s get real here: There are numerous factors that contribute to the success/failure of your recommended action plans.
Chances are, my plans are not a well-devised one, but more likely or not, it’s all about the execution and the sudden shift of the market – e.g. Google’s major algorithm updates since 2011 that has tumbling the SEO world upside down, that impact even some of best SEO experts.
The best solution to protect your business is through insurance. But handling angry clients over bad results is not something that is covered by a general liability insurance. You need a professional indemnity insurance, such as the ones offered by reputable firms like Cavendish Munro, to protect your business over the potential of (costly) lawsuits.
How to educate the market?
Another stumbling block you need to consider is on educating your target market on the importance of Inbound Marketing, and how it deliver more real value than the traditional (outbound) marketing campaigns they have always done for years – even decades.
The best solution I can think of is to turn your company website into an information hub, from which your target market can learn more and discuss about inbound marketing, This in itself is one of the inbound marketing tactics you need to focus on.
Remember, always practice what you preach!
How to stay on top of the market?
As you are in the consulting field, you need to well-update yourself with the most recent trends. Especially in Inbound marketing arena, changes are rapid and imminent – getting yourself on top of it is your critical success factor.
The solutions are pretty straightforward: Set up Google Alerts. Subscribe to the feeds of Inbound marketing trend websites. Follow the authoritative figures and companies. Attend webinars. Network in events. Collaborate and build a business relationship with other Inbound marketing consultants and professionals.
Consulting is all about trust. If you can gain your prospects’ trust, you win. But before you can win your clients over, you need to show some credibility.
With that said, make sure you build your credibility and reputation, preferably through personal branding. Whether you like it or not, you need to get yourself out there.
Good luck in your endeavour!