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Why Prospects Ignore Your Consulting Firm’s Great Content, and What to Do About It

You may have fabulous content and ideas to share with your consulting firm’s prospects and clients, and you may even have provocative titles that attract readers, listeners and viewers to your content. Yet, unless you run your thought leadership and marketing content through one, critical filter, you could still miss the mark. Let’s look closer.

Your consulting firm offers amazing advice. Something to do with leadership or implementation or bubbles and cacao nibs that will immeasurably improve your clients’ situation.

And, because you want even more clients to benefit from your awesomeness (and to engage your consulting firm in lucrative assignments), you generously market your wisdom in articles, blog posts, podcasts, webinars and other formats.

For some reason, though, readers, listeners and viewers aren’t connecting with your content.

Your video limps along at low viewership. Readers don’t flock to your article or recommend it to others. Listeners don’t comment on your podcast.

Your consulting firm’s ideas are wilting like spinach under hot walnut oil.

If your content is so valuable, why is engagement so low? Because you’re not paying attention to The Law of Personal Relevance.

The Law of Personal Relevance

Your audience is most interested in content that they find personally useful.

While your consulting firm’s work and advice may help organizations or individuals’ professional lives, your content must relate your ideas to each audience member’s own, personal situation.

You’ll never go wrong by helping your reader with her life.

However, you will underwhelm your reader if you focus on points that help her organization or business, but don’t fuel her personal success.

Always, without fail, make your consulting firm’s content personally useful to the individual reader, listener, viewer or participant.

Does that mean you’ll frequently revisit evergreen issues that confront many people? Absolutely. Find new ways to deliver age-old messages.

Does that mean that your consulting firm’s content will occasionally feel a bit personal and even intimate? You betcha. Connect with your audience. Don’t stay coldly aloof in a (misguided) effort to appear smart.

When you display your humanity and help your fellow humans on their journeys, you’ll find you attract much greater engagement with your consulting firm’s content.

How do you make your content personally useful?


16 Comments
  1. Daniel
    September 30, 2020 at 7:51 am Reply

    Personally, I found this useful.

    • David A. Fields
      September 30, 2020 at 7:58 am Reply

      Great, Daniel. I find your feedback useful, too!

      • Kyle Gillette
        September 30, 2020 at 8:01 pm Reply

        I find this comment funny.

        • David A. Fields
          September 30, 2020 at 8:13 pm

          Yes, a recursive thread about usefulness is amusing. I agree, Kyle.

  2. Tom Mitchell
    September 30, 2020 at 8:01 am Reply

    I believe one way to do this is by focusing on outcomes as opposed to a series of activities. An outcome could benefit a business or an individual and is a strong way of moving most situations forward. Focusing on the right outcomes could have a wider effect than on a single individual or organization. As I write this, I can see that even choosing an outcome to focus on can be helped with the lens of making it personal.

    • David A. Fields
      September 30, 2020 at 8:15 am Reply

      By the end of your comment, you arrived where many readers here would have pointed you. Outcomes are most interesting to your audience when they’re personally relevant.

      On the other hand, my guess is many folks would debate whether focusing on outcomes rather than activities makes it easier to observe the Law of Personal Relevance. Most audiences want to know, quite specifically, what they should do. The outcome is simply the justification for the actions.

      Good thinking, Tom, and I appreciate you injecting the distinction between outcomes and activities into this discussion.

      • Tom Mitchell
        September 30, 2020 at 8:26 am Reply

        Thanks. I have been reading your emails and visiting the site over the past few months and have been intrigued on a number of subjects. This particular topic has been a source of pain from time to time and I felt compelled to chime in.

        The pain comes from not considering an outcome when defining activities. I tend to be a resource that has been brought in after some issues arise and this area is a common theme. Many people are able to define a series of activities that seem to make sense based off their experience. To the unknowledgeable client that has hired the consultant, it seems to make sense and off they go.

        I believe looking at our experience and focusing on the desired outcome can lead to more appropriate activities, which could lead to less issues down the road.

        Thank you for the opportunity to contribute some ideas and keep up the great work you are doing for this community.

        • David A. Fields
          September 30, 2020 at 8:47 am

          You and I are 100% in agreement that in the process of hiring a consultant, clients often specify activities when they should be specifying outcomes. (In fact, that’s one of the main points in my first book.) Many prospective clients need to be educated about the difference between consulting and staff-augmentation. Hmm, maybe that will be a future article–thanks for the topic idea, Tom.

  3. debbie
    September 30, 2020 at 10:45 am Reply

    I’d be interested in hearing from this community…
    What ways have you found to determine or identify what is personally useful when you are sharing ideas with a broad audience?

    • David A. Fields
      September 30, 2020 at 10:54 am Reply

      Debbie, it will be interesting to see whether you get responses. One way at it is to ensure your content is personally useful to a narrow audience–that’s much easier and you know for sure that your content will be relevant to them. The broader your audience, the more you have to fall back on generic themes.

      What’s preventing you from creating content for a narrow audience?

      Thanks for posing the question, Debbie.

  4. Conni
    September 30, 2020 at 10:46 am Reply

    David, this article struck a chord this morning. (It was personally useful to me!) In working with a consultant to sharpen my brand, I’ve been struck how much of our work focuses on the internal effects of my work with clients. That’s the personal relevance, right? Once the brand work is complete, much of my content will demonstrate that personal relevance, as opposed to the more technical aspects of the work I do. Thank you for an insightful read this morning.

    • David A. Fields
      September 30, 2020 at 11:01 am Reply

      Exactly. You’ve provided an exemplary case study, Conni. (Thank you for that!) It sounds like your brand advisor has you on a good track.

      As you know, our clients (usually) have rational reasons for bringing us in and our technical prowess supports their decision; however, the actual engagement decision is made based on emotional reasons that are invariably tied to the client’s personal benefits. I’m glad you shared your reaction and thoughts, Conni.

  5. Chris Doig
    September 30, 2020 at 11:58 am Reply

    David, I always enjoy your articles and the way you have elevated stick figures to an art form! The problem mentioned in your article is summed up in the difference between two simple words: WHAT and HOW.

    HOW I do something is talking about me. WHAT the client wants is talking about them. When talking to clients or writing, I always try to focus on WHAT they want, not as easy as it sounds. What you are saying is by concentrating on WHAT the client personally wants will drive engagement and sharing. That’s a great thought and fully aligned with your theme of right side up thinking.

    • David A. Fields
      September 30, 2020 at 12:53 pm Reply

      The distinction you’re highlighting is similar to the point Tom made about outcomes vs. activities, Chris. Where I agree 100% is that talking about how you and your consulting firm accomplish a task may be upside down.

      The gentle pushback I’d offer is that your content can also talk about how your reader/listener/viewer can achieve their what. Indeed, actionable steps are generally perceived as personally useful, whereas simply talking about grand outcomes may be perceived as personally interesting, but not terribly useful.

      Thank you for contributing to the discussion, Chris. Your insights are always appreciated.

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