Why Guerrilla Consultants Need Great Web Sites






In a world where anyone can access the archives of the Smithsonian
Institute with a click of the mouse, potential clients will not be
satisfied if a consultant’s Web site turns up nothing but marketing
babble. Clients come to your Web site for one reason: to solve a
problem. They expect your site to look professional, be easy to
navigate, and offer content that helps them understand how you can
help them.

Patterns for buying consulting services have changed, and there’s no
turning back. We’re in the era of guerrilla clients — buyers who have
a wealth of information at their fingertips and use it. A study by the
Information Technology Services Marketing Association (ITSMA) found
that 77% of decision makers find service providers, including
consultants, using the Web — even if they have referrals.

Clients gather intelligence from the Web to assess consultants’
capabilities. Without a Web site that unequivocally shows your unique
capabilities, guerrilla clients will always pass you by.

Too many consultants create replicas of “Yellow Pages” ads on the Web.
They fail to capitalize on the power of the Web to attract clients and
grow their businesses.

Make Your Site a Hub

Your Web site should be the marketing hub of your practice. Think of
your site as equal parts consulting office, demonstration lab,
library, and publicity machine. Its content, appearance, and ease of
use show your competence as a professional.

Your site paints a powerful portrait of your visual identity by
reflecting your style and how you choose to present yourself. It also
serves as a showroom from which you can exhibit your wares. Your Web
site gives you a platform from which to tell your story, describe your
mission, list your clients, and distribute information. It also
provides you with visibility both in and out of your industry.

Leading firms create a repository on their Web sites for their
intellectual assets — articles, papers, proposals, studies, surveys,
and reports — which prospective clients can examine. These materials
help visitors understand how the consultants think and how they tackle
problems.

Ten Characteristics of a Killer Consulting Web Site

1. Show Legitimacy as a Business. You will build credibility with
visitors by including simple items on your site like the physical
address of your business and photographs of your offices, or by
listing membership in professional and industry associations. Include
contact information on each page.

2. Update Content Frequently. Some consultants fail to maintain their
sites’ content, resulting in sites full of stale information. Web
visitors assign more credibility to sites that are current, or at
least demonstrate that they have been recently reviewed.

3. Encourage Action. On each page of your site, find a way for
visitors to interact with you, whether it’s to sign up for a
newsletter, request a special report, link to another page on your
site, or send you an e-mail. Your site should engage visitors, not
just let them “click and go.”

4. Exchange Value for Time. Web site visitors, particularly those
looking for consultants, will gladly exchange their time for value and
insight. Provide relevant, valuable, and usable content, and
prospective clients may put you on their shortlist. Consider using
interactive diagnostic tools that help clients measure the impact of
issues they’re facing.

5. Rapid Response. If you receive an e-mail inquiry from a visitor,
follow up immediately, no matter how busy you are. That e-mail inquiry
about your services will not improve with age; don’t let it get moldy
in your e-mailbox. And drop the canned autoresponder. Automated
responses don’t get you any closer to the client.

6. Simplicity. Create your site for clients, not for the artist within
you. Make the design of the site simple, intuitive to use and easy to
read. Provide lots of white space on pages because visitors tend to
skim pages, not read every detail. And stick to a simple, eye-pleasing
palette. Your layout should be logical. Navigation buttons and
features like newsletter sign-up boxes should be in the same place on
all pages. Make it easy to download material by providing explicit
instructions.

7. Speed Doesn’t Kill. Make sure each page and link loads quickly, no
matter what type of browser or machine a visitor uses. Don’t assume
that all visitors are using high-speed connections when they access
your site. Visitors will leave your site in a heartbeat if your pages
load too slowly.

8. Pass the Acid Test. Before you launch a new or revised site, ask
clients and colleagues to thoroughly test every element of the site.
Ask them to answer questions such as: Is the site easy to use? Does
it provide useful information? Would the site prompt you to contact
the consultant?

9. Accountability for Ongoing Site Quality. Some consultants create
Web sites just because “we need a site,” but then let them languish.
Since it’s an integral part of your external marketing program, don’t
let your site die on the vine. Assign accountability for its long-term
value to a specific person or group, so you will reap the full
benefits of the Web.

10. Go Easy on Data Collection. On some consultants’ sites, visitors
are asked to give up pages of personal information before they can
receive a simple white paper. Keep it to a minimum. Ask only for their
e-mail addresses, and then send them the information they requested.
If they find value in your material, they’ll call you.

Remember that guerrilla clients demand more. They want professional
sites that give them solid information about who you are, what you do,
how you think, and most importantly, how you can benefit them.
Providing anything less will eliminate you from their list of
candidates for their consulting projects.

Jay Conrad Levinson and Michael W. McLaughlin
Guerrilla Marketing for Consultants
http://www.guerrillaconsulting.com/