Value packed free content is effective low cost marketing tool for consultants. John Jantcsh offers four C’s of Marketing in his book The Referral Engine: Teaching Your Business to Market Itself. I applied these principles in my consulting practice. Using it I became a go-to guy in my niche – application performance, security, and architecture. Few publisher reached out to me offering to write a book. I was offered jobs from competing companies. I landed few gigs too. It helped me to get great performance reviews. It worked rather well. Here are the four C’s of Marketing.
“Authentic content that educates or is otherwise seen as valuable to the consumer is the new currency of marketing.”
I used my professional blog to keep track with my experiments. At first it served me, it was my journal. I used it when I needed the info I used before. Very convenient. The loop was as follows:
- Experiment with technology.
- Document steps I have taken and the outcome it produced. Usually what it takes to make something work including code snippets, error codes, references to where I found answers, etc. The key was to make it self contained, from zero to something working.
- When in the need use search engine to find it on my blog and follow the steps. The need could be either myself or a colleague or a customers who were asking questions I already found solutions, so I usually was sharing the link to it – effective and efficient.
Using this loop I found that there is key piece that could be massively improved – usability. While there was ton of value in the content I was producing it was not extremely usable. Specifically It needed to be improved for it’s scannability – the ability to quickly skim through the content and find relevant piece of it. It also needed to be improved on the findability side – how well it performs when being searched online.
The more I was improving on the these qualities the more critical my online content become as my tool of trade – both when solving problems and as my online marketing tool.
- Dump your brain online, make sure it of value – if that’s something that helped you solve a problem chances it’s valuable to others.
- Organize the dump in a way it’s easily consumable – quick read/skim through, SEO optimized.
- Make it a habit so you flow your content continuously.
“While we now enjoy access to an enormous amount of information, we’re also overwhelmed with the need to filter, aggregate, and make sense of it all”
Context and focus work great in life, work, and with virtually everything else. My professional focus was put on application performance and security – quality attributes of software that cause most pain to anyone involved: developers, project managers, stakeholders, end users, and who not. I realized this should be a good market and this is what I was focusing on my professional side. I have always been off the bench since then. Same with my online presence, I kept it focused on the context I cared the most – security and performance. It helped humans quickly navigate and find relevant information on it. It helped search engines to index it the same way and help me get on first pages when someone was searching for related keywords.
- Define your context, niche, focus and stick with it.
- Don’t pollute your online presence with randomness – introducing randomness shows as such to readers and to search engines too, and it backfires at you in the end.
“By using technology to allow prospects to connect when and where they choose, they [most remarkable businesses] allow people to connect more deeply when and where they choose.”
One thing to make sure my content is found online, another is closing the loop and making sure prospects can reach out to me and develop further relationship. Isn’t it the key outcome of all marketing efforts? I made every effort and I still do to make sure I can be easily approached with lowest friction possible. Contact forms, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn accounts are prominent where appropriate so that prospects can easily contact me. When contacted I make sure to answer immediately to show my interest in the connection. If I don’t have an answer off the heap I respond immediately that I have received the email and will be answering it shortly. In many cases such quick engagements developed into long term connections. It allows me to reach out to the same guy and ask for a favor such as ask for review or ask for recommendations. Sometimes I was just sending out materials that potentially could be of value, in most cases people genuinely appreciated it.
- Make it frictionlessly easy to contact you.
- When contacted, respond immediately either with answer, or that it would take some time for you to respond.
- Keep the connection warm, reach out back once the connection established on timely basis.
- Don’t abuse the connection else it will die.
“While the notion of community-building online has become a very commonplace practice, the opportunity for community-building offline is richer than ever… The consultant who routinely invites small groups of customers to lunch so they can network and share ideas with peers is providing an essential community-building opportunity.”
As I kept focusing on specific context using my online efforts my connections grew and developed. At some point I had quite a few like-minded people in my network. I started to introduce them one to another in some occasions. Most prominent case is when someone reaches out to me with a question and I introduce another guy who may know things better than me. I witness how this new connection develops and how people help one another strengthening their ability to solve problems faster smarter and more elegantly. I am lucky to have many opportunities to meet people in-person I got to know only via emals and online before. Any time I have such opportunity to meet in-person I cease it, I found it’s the best way to make the connection better and more fun.
- Introduce like-minded people in your network one to another.
- Make an effort to meet your online friends in-person.
- Marketing For Consultants
- Remarkable Marketing By Seth Godin
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- Content Usability: Design Pages For Scanning
image by Jesslee Cuizon