You want to write an article, give a speech, post a podcast, distribute a video or disseminate some other form of conceptual brilliance. Why? Because when your intellectual barbeque sauce is lip-smacking good, it generates consulting clients.
Also, you have a great idea: a concept, model, approach or insight that will be hugely valuable for your consulting clients. You’ll be seen as a thought leader, your place in the pantheon of your industry’s notables will be assured and your consulting team jersey will be raised to the rafters amidst great fanfare.*
Unfortunately, most content doesn’t generate consulting clients. That’s why most consulting firms give up on producing content, or issue IP only sporadically. Positive results are rare and the work required can be enormous.
So, how do you create content that will attract clients? What’s the secret step in the process? The proverbial Kahlúa in the chili? (Maybe there aren’t any proverbs about Kahlúa, but a hint of coffee liqueur makes chili taste awesome.)
You remember the #1 rule of Right-Side Up consulting: Consulting isn’t about you, it’s about THEM – your prospects and clients.
There’s a corollary to that rule specially designed for consulting firm content:
Great content isn’t about your idea. It’s about your audience.
That is always true. Your article and whitepaper are about your reader. Your webinar is about your attendee. Your speech is about your listener. Your video is about your viewer. None of your content is about you. None of it is about your idea.
Practically, what does that mean? It means three skipping stones bridge the raging river of disinterest between your spectacular idea and content that will attract clients:
First: What Does Your Audience Want?
If you’re writing an article, what does your reader want? Other than cookies. Does he want practical tips? Inspiration? An emotional lift? A reason to smile? Does he want to be stretched cognitively or does he want an easy read? An in-depth exploration or a quick hit of information?
Most business readers want practical, implementable tips, and they want them fast. They also want you to hand them mental ice cream in small, manageable scoops, not unwieldy buckets.
Before you write the first word of your article, write down what your audience wants.
Second: What’s Your Deliverable to Satisfy the Wants?
Translate your idea into a concrete deliverable; the payoff. If your listeners want one line they can remember, pen a catchy phrase. If they want a clear process, assemble a checklist. If they want an example, construct a template.
Starting at the beginning is a rookie mistake. Since you’re no rookie, kick off your content creation bonanza by assembling the party favors your audience will be grabbing on their way out the door.
Third: How Do You Connect Your Idea to the Deliverable?
The final step in creating effective consulting IP is crafting content that connects your brilliant idea to the deliverable. Whether it’s personal anecdotes or pictures, statistics or stories, let the deliverable guide your work.
When you wander off the path, your audience loses interest and you lose a potential consulting client.
In other words, avoid diversions in your articles, webinars, speeches and other content. Don’t include sub-points, exercises, illustrations or other miscellany unless they directly support the deliverable you designed.
That’s it. Creating content that attracts consulting clients is actually fairly easy, as long as you remember neither you nor your idea are as important as your prospects.
Do you have another tip for creating content that attracts consulting clients?
Text and images are © 2023 David A. Fields, all rights reserved.
Great points, David. Thank you. What I guide my consultants to do is not jam 10 pounds of you know what into a 5-pound bag. It’s tempting to have too much information in one piece of content that is too high-level and not actionable. I show them that they have enough richness and texture in one of those list items to create a piece of content that’s in-depth, value-packed and actionable. This is also why having a channel-specific content strategy is critical. You know what goes in each piece and how to link them together to create long-lasting value.
Sound advice, Terry. During a conversation with the editor-in-chief of a magazine in which I had a long-standing column, I asked him what mistakes he saw consultants make when they tried to get published. He said: 1. They ask him what they should write about, and 2. They put all their ideas in one article then don’t know what to write next.
In other words consultants stuff all 10 pounds of their ideas into the 4 oz bag of one article, whitepaper, video, or speech. You’re right that there’s plenty of actionable steps on any one tiny sub-point to keep prospects interested. Thanks for highlighting that idea, Terry.
“Keep your writing light, like David does” 🙂
I find it effective investing time into designing an eye-catching image and a teaser title.
You’ve brought up an absolutely critical point, Anatoli: Titles (and teaser copy) are uber-important. Those handful of words deserve almost as much attention as the entire rest of your content.
And you’re right, when you limit your words, then the printout is very light… or was that not what you meant? Seriously, thanks for adding to the discussion.
Great article David. I’ve seen too many articles written that focus on how much the author knows vs. understanding what the reader would like to know. Your weekly articles demonstrate a nice approach to communicating what we as readers would like to know, and doing so in a clear and concise way.
Totally agree with you, David, that many authors’ agenda is to beat their own chests or toot their own horns. (Or both simultaneous, which is cacophonous.) That may stake their egos, but it tends not to help with client development. Thanks for sharing your experience and what you’ve seen.
I saved you the trouble; 🙂
involving or producing a harsh, discordant mixture of sounds.
“the cacophonous sound of slot machines”
synonyms: noisy, loud, ear-splitting, raucous, discordant, dissonant, jarring, grating, inharmonious, unmelodious, unmusical, tuneless
“that cacophonous racket they call music”
Yep, that’s the noise some consultants make with their content.
This article was right on. I”ll keep it brief – try to appeal to the whole client – connect your presentation to the head, heart, and spirit (the last – inspire!). If you do, you will naturally “be where the client is”.
Nicely said, Jennifer. Make sure those connections are to your audience‘s head, heart and spirit. Connecting to your own will render you passionate but irrelevant, then mystified when business doesn’t appear.
I like the addition of spirit to the discussion, Jennifer. Thanks for adding it.