Last week, a solo-consultant I work with told me he did everything “wrong” in a client meeting but walked away with a $75,000 project. No one walked out of the meeting with a black eye, so obviously his characterization of the meeting was exaggerated, but the fact remains that he won business despite some missteps. How? He had a great offering that his client wanted.

I’ve had a run-in or two with killer products. Just like Billboard announces the top songs every week, the scorekeeper in the consumer products market is Advertising Age magazine. Before I started consulting I was fortunate enough to be featured as one of Advertising Age magazine’s “Top 100 marketers.” Groovy award, but winning it was about 10% skill and 90% fabulous product. Stores are stuffed with goods that sell millions of dollars every year with little or no marketing because they’re great items. Think a cure for cancer would need much marketing or advertising? Exactly.

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The same holds true in consulting. If there’s one thing I’ve seen consistently in my work with hundreds of consultants it’s that a killer offering will generate substantial income even if your marketing is nothing to write home about. (Yes, you do need to be decent at the entire client acquisition process.) Without any marketing chops even a great offering will sell about as well as a baby mop** or dogbrella**.

Before I describe the elements of a perfect consulting offering, let’s talk about the two-ton sandbag holding your business down. Because, until you cut yourself free of this anchor you’re likely to see nominal gains, at best. The weight hindering your growth and the biggest obstacle to finding a killer offering is, quite simply: Your current definition of what you do.

As long as you’re afraid to let go of what you are and what you offer now, you’ll never be able to embrace a new, better definition of yourself and your value. I see consultants cling to definitions like, “I’m a strategy consultant” or “I have 20 years of marketing experience” or “I’m an expert in project management.” Internally focused statements like these are the consulting equivalent to Kodak’s commitment to film. How’s that been working lately? It’s useful and necessary to know what you’re good at and your passions, but to find a killer product, you can’t start there.

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I often say that revving up your consulting revenue requires the compelling communication of the right solution to the right people about the right problem at the right time. Construct your perfect consulting offering by focusing on the first three. The checklist below breaks out these three components more and will guide you to a product that could increase your revenue by an order of magnitude.

The problem/aspiration:

  • Is urgent, pervasive, and costly to leave unaddressed
  • Is easy to diagnose
  • Is easy to understand

 The people:

  • Have the need and the money and the authority to buy the solution
  • Are aware of the need or can easily be made aware
  • Are reachable by you

The communication/solution:

  • Articulates an obvious, concrete benefit
  • Is easily said by you
  • Is so concise and understandable that it’s easily repeated by others

Finally… You:

  • Are not tied to your past – the offering is about client needs, not your ability
  • Are willing, able and passionate about delivering

Developing your killer offering may take some time and definitely requires feedback from prospects. You can take the first step right now, though: in the comments box below type in an urgent, pervasive, costly problem you solve. If you can’t think of one, type in your target and other readers and I will give you some ideas.


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Text and images are © 2015 David A. Fields, all rights reserved.