The challenge to building any business, especially when offering consulting or other professional services, is to establish a consistent and steady stream of work. Too often, the ebb and flow of a given marketplace becomes a cycle of feast or famine. Days or weeks without work producing revenue leads to marathon round-the-clock sessions when work does come in. The lack of balance—and with it, reliable revenue— is enough to drive any consultant (and their loved ones) crazy.
One of the problems with the so-called feast or famine cycle is its impact on our ability as business leaders to make decisions. During the lean times, we become more willing to lower our standards just to bring some work in the door. During the busy times, we work ourselves to the bone knowing that another famine is just around the corner.
Since going out on my own a little over six months ago, with the formal launch of both BLHill Inc. and mending wall (sg), I too have been caught in the feast and famine cycle. (In case you are wondering why there haven’t been very many posts lately, now you know.)
There’s only so much time in the day to handle client service, administrivia, marketing, and the demands of life. And it’s easier to focus on the work right in front of you than to find the mental bandwidth to think about the future.
The trap is that consultants get so immersed in delivering value to their current clients that marketing takes a back seat. When you don’t actively market your services, you unintentionally sow the seeds of famine. If you allow your market visibility to ebb, the result is a dwindling sales pipeline once your current projects end—which they always do.
The above quote is from Michael W. McLaughlin, who co-authored Guerrilla Marketing for Consultants: Breakthrough Tactics for Winning Profitable Clients with the late Jay Conrad Levinson, has some insight into this topic. In fact, his blog used to be called Beating Feast or Famine.
So how do you move beyond the feast or famine cycle?
Here are McLaughlin’s four tips for beating the feast or famine cycle:
- Create a Plan You Can Stick to
- Build a Marketing Road Map
- Be Consistent
- Allocate Marketing Resources Effectively
What’s the Point?
As consultants, our value comes from our ability to improve our client’s situation. Without clients, not only are we unable to create value, but we are also unable to put food on the table. The best way to bring in more work is to to position oneself as a thought leader, and demonstrate value to prospective clients.
In other words, through lean times and busy times, regardless of the ebb and flow of the marketplace, the job of a consultant is to consistently produce content of value.
A lesson that I continue to learn the hard way…
Image courtesy spyderball