If you’re great at PPC, then why would you sell those skills to others? Why wouldn’t you become an affiliate marketer, or set up your own site selling goods and services? What’s the point of working for a string of new bosses as an independent PPC consultant?
There are a few reasons why becoming an independent consultant can be a great idea. Lucrative, too.
1. You Get To See Deep Inside Other Businesses
Market research – good market research – can cost a fortune, but the consultant gains an intimate knowledge of their clients market. Not only do you get to see the data, you get to see the marketing and business processes that you can then apply elsewhere. Not so much spying as a valuable apprenticeship and research opportunity, for which you get paid.
The independent consultant gets to choose their own hours and projects. Unlike an employee, the independent consultant can choose their “bosses”. Don’t like the boss? “Fire” the client.
You can also choose your hours of work, when to take holidays, and where you work.
3. Focus On Core Skills
Crafting solutions can be a lot more fun than implementing them. Delivering goods or services can be a hassle, and require a lot of back-end processes.
PPC is mostly a high level marketing function, and the responsibility typically ends once the visitor moves to desired action.
The Big Problem With Consultancy
The world is chock full of PPC consultants!
Anyone can call themselves a consultant, so many people do. Assuming the consultant can do the work to a high standard, the most critical skill of the independent consultant – entering a saturated market with no barrier to entry – is the ability to sell.
How do you sell your services?
1. Identify Your Client
Do you want to work with big organisations or small? The approach you take will differ depending on your target market.
Small businesses tend to like dealing with other small businesses, as they appreciate the direct level of contact. Big business have larger budgets, but can be harder for the new consultant to engage – many large firms will work with preferred suppliers, and with established agencies.
Tailor your pitch and approach accordingly.
2. Craft A Point Of Difference
Why would they choose you? You may be great at what you do, but how do you convince others of your worth?
Points of difference can include:
- Geographic locality i.e. you can go and see clients in person.
- Industry vertical i.e. specialize in one particular industry
- Experience – have you got unique experience that you can highlight? Have you worked with people/clients of note?
- Awareness – if people have seen you name before, you stand a better chance of landing deals. This is why consultants speak at conferences, write blogs, write op-ed pieces for newspapers and other publications.
3. Demonstrate And Offer More Value Than Your Competitors
What are your competitors doing? More importantly, what are they not doing? Are there areas you can provide more value to clients than your competitors do?
Think about the points of resistance for a client. Put yourself in their shoes. One major point of resistance for the new independent consultant is perceived risk. Without a track record, the risk proposition for the client is high.
One idea for getting around this perceived risk is to give your services away for free.
One local consulting agency I know of sold out to a competitor for a a tidy sum. When they started, they decided they needed a client list, so they offered their services, for nothing, to a list of preferred clients. The agency viewed this as a marketing cost. Once they had proved their worth, clients tended to stay on their books, and at very least, provided valuable experience and referrals.
Of course, you can’t work for nothing/discount rates over the long term, but such a strategy works well if you need to get a few good names – preferably industry leader names as opposed to unknown small businesses – under your belt.
4. Say What You’ll Do, Do It, Then Tell Them You’ve Done It
Actors often say you’re only as good as your last movie. In consulting, you’re only as good as your last gig. A bad reputation can be gained easily, and persist for a long time. So when you execute, stay focused on delivery.
The most effective selling method, by far, is good word of mouth. Each new gig gives you a chance to increase good word of mouth.
I hope this article provides you with a few ideas on selling your services.
The techniques you use very much depend on your own skills, history and ability. If you’re new to PPC, in terms of operating as a business, it’s often a good idea to work for a PPC agency before going freelance. This gives you valuable insight into the business of selling search, experience, and the opportunity to build up contacts.