Right now, we are all facing huge levels of uncertainty, both personally and professionally. Following the urgent Covid-19 reactionary comms, many freelance marketing consultants and PR consultants are now facing additional worry. Client work may be drying up or budgets shrinking. In moments like these, it is sometimes difficult to know what to do next.
Here are a couple of product and service ideas to consider bolting on to your existing offerings over the coming weeks. You’ve probably already heard of these ideas because there’s nothing new or terribly groundbreaking about them. They have the potential to help your existing clients, while boosting your cash flow.
Plus, they offer prospective clients a ‘taste’ of your services at a lower ticket price than your strategy service. Therefore attracting customers to the top of the funnel. If they like what they see, they’ll likely be interested in a higher ticket service at a later date and be well on their way to becoming loyal clients.
1. Offer an online consultancy session
Start selling online PR or marketing consultancy sessions where people pay a one-off fee to get advice from you relating to a specific problem they have. You could choose to offer a general consultancy to clients in the industry or industries that you work in, or select a clear-cut agenda.
For example, a marketing consultant working in the tourism industry could offer a two-hour intensive consultancy session to organisations who are struggling in the current climate. Using his 25 years of experience in the industry, he can get to the root of the client’s issue and offer actionable advice that will help the client to quickly move forward towards a viable solution. Conducted via video call, the online session would replace the free introductory call currently on offer (or be in addition to an initial short discovery call). This enables the consultant to bring in new revenue, while continuing to remain visible in a struggling industry.
Alternatively you could run a workshop or masterclass on a 1:1 basis or with a small group. Or offer a recorded review of a client’s website and marketing materials to show quick wins on where the client can make improvements.
All of these service ideas offer a small commitment purchase before a much bigger strategic marketing investment. They also offer a bolt-on service for current or past clients.
Positioning your business as being able to help those in your industry who only need a small amount of help is a win-win. Your clients get help at a low cost outlay and you get paid for your many years of experience, instead of knowledge that you would perhaps usually give free of charge.
Real life examples
Internal Communications Consultant Rachel Miller at All Things IC runs a range of phone consultations and remote masterclasses.
Technical copywriter John Espirian offers 1-to-1 online video consultations.
US keynote speaker, business consultant and author Mark Schaefer offers one hour phone conversations via his ‘Instant Marketing Advice’ service.
Marketing coach Tracey Tait offers a ‘Pick my brains over a virtual cuppa’ service via Zoom to help new business owners with their marketing.
Hel Reynolds at Comms Creatives offers private video calls where “you can get advice, reassurance or ideas for your communications and marketing”.
Format and content
- What will you call your online consultancy session that resonates in your industry? The above examples include ‘phone call’, ‘power hour’, ‘pick my brains’, ‘advice session’.
- Will telephone suffice or will you use video conferencing via cloud based services? Take your pick from Zoom, Go To Meeting, Whereby, or more.
- How will you lead your client from pain to redemption? What specific knowledge or quick wins can you share? Remember that you’re only giving away a slice of your expertise.
- What call duration will you offer that works well for both you and for solving a client’s problem?
- Will you offer additional information and value? For example, you might include a written summary of the points discussed on your call with recommended actions or the recording of your call. These can be useful selling points. A client doesn’t have to concern him or herself with making notes and can therefore fully concentrate on the call.
- For Q&A session/webinars, will you run these live or pre-record your content?
- The pricing you choose should reflect the value that will result from your call – not just your hourly rate. You might demonstrate through a testimonial or case study example what return on investment previous clients have seen.
- If your business is in need of a quick cash boost, you could run a limited special offer where you give a percentage discount.
Buying process and client communications
- How will you arrange a mutually convenient date and time? Using an online meeting scheduler like Calendly provides a way for a client to easily book a time and date, without the unnecessary toing and froing by email.
- Consider adding a payment link to your website so that you receive payment before your call. Use an online payment system like PayPal or Stripe.
- What information do you need from the client ahead of your call? You could ask your client to submit this via email or online questionnaire beforehand.
- Creating comms templates and messaging in advance can save you time in the long-term. Write reminders, information you need ahead of a consultation such as how to join the online call, an agenda overview, etc.
- Sell to new business enquiries as a way to get started in terms of working together.
- Talk about your new service on social media.
- Build a list of warm leads, including current or previous clients, to contact directly about the consultancy service. And who in your network can help spread the word?
- Plan a series of follow up communications at regular intervals to check in with your client to see how they are getting on – build templates and add reminders to your calendar.
2. Create a helpful resource
Another idea to consider is a useful resource for your existing and prospective clients. In line with your existing marketing strategy and channels, consider how your clients like to access information and what format your resource should take. You might create a downloadable PDF resource or guide that helps to solve a specific problem in your industry. Or you could offer a 14 day email challenge or Q&A session/webinar.
For example, a PR and marketing consultancy working in the horticulture industry might create a ‘how to’ guide for independent garden centres to help them move their business online while people stay at home. A comprehensive 4,000 word PDF guide costing £50 provides a useful and affordable resource to prospective clients who may not be able to justify a bigger spend on strategic PR and marketing services at this time.
If you are creating a comprehensive 4,000 word guide, you will want to charge for this. Whereas if your time is limited, you may choose to create a resource that is lighter on content, such as a template or checklist. Use this as a lead magnet – to get potential clients to give you their contact details in exchange for your valuable resource.
Real life examples
Marketing consultant John Alexander Rowley sells a digital marketing strategy playbook at a low cost price point of £5.
Comms consultant and brand story mentor Lucy Eckley offers a free PDF template to help independent consultants write the ‘about’ page on their website.
Comms Creatives set up ’31 Days of Creativity’ – an email challenge to help comms professionals flex their creative muscle. “Each day, you’ll do a simple creative task that will take you between 1 and 15 minutes. You’ll do things like: taking a creative photo, writing a short poem on a particular topic, trying out a new app, taking a quiz about your own creativity, or scribbling a little diagram on paper.”
Format and content
- What is the shelf-life of the resource? Is it helpful for a limited time or for the long-term? Will the content be evergreen or will you need to update it from time to time?
- For PDF downloadable resources, will you need assistance with the design from a graphic designer or can you use free software such as Canva?
- Consider whether you will charge for the resource. Options: full price; discounted; free for a set period of time; free forever; free in exchange for contact details,.
- Thinking about making this a free or discounted resource to help businesses in 2020? Note that there are a number of potential pitfalls. Look at how the new resource might lead to sales and check how loyal clients who have paid for your services in the past may perceive it. To overcome this, remember that you’re offering a slice of your expertise. You’re not giving away all of your knowledge and devaluing your existing service offering.
- What about the costs associated with creating the resource – your time and any other contractors time?
- Create a specific area on your website or set up a dedicated landing page on your website using a platform like MailChimp or Leadpages. Provide the full details of the offer and who it is for. Be specific about what is covered and what isn’t. Include testimonials from happy clients here too.
- Build a list of warm leads, including recent enquiries, current or previous clients. In addition, are there members of your network who may know businesses that would benefit from your resource and can help spread the word?
- Talk about your new resource on social media.
- What call to action can you include at the end of the resource? What are the next relevant products or services that your customer might like to buy?
Setting up a new online consultancy session or creating a helpful resource aren’t just ideas to incorporate now while we are self-isolating, social distancing and heading towards a recession. They are approaches that can work well both now and in the longer-term.
If you’re keen to set up a consultancy session or new resource for your clients but could do with some support to make it happen, I’m here to help.
Some of the ways I provide a helping hand:
- Writing content for your new resource, conducting picture research, designing your resource in software like Canva.
- Building a landing page/adding your new online consultancy service or resource to your website (WordPress, MailChimp, etc).
- Creating an online questionnaire to gather pertinent business information from your client ahead of an online consultancy session.
- Researching the best software options for your business.
- Writing template client communications.
- Setting up your processes for your new service or resource and automating them where possible.
I know that doing marketing and PR for your own business is an overhead, rather than a money-making exercise. That’s why my rate is slightly lower when I work with PR consultants and marketing consultants on their own business.
Let’s chat about how I can help you – email me at email@example.com to arrange a free 30 minute phone call.
Image: Taken from open-source site unDraw where you can add your brand colour to ready-made illustrations.