The Most Important Concept To Build Your Consulting Practice

There are more than a few things you need to get right consistently to build a sustainable consulting practice: a compelling big idea, targeted sweet-spot clients and buyers (with the budget to buy you), a clear, differentiated point of view, amongst others.

But there is one element that tops them all.

Alignment.

You won’t deliver the real magic—the kind that truly makes you unforgettable to your sweet-spot—until you align every touch point of your business with your brand.

And by brand, I mean the explicit and implicit promises you make to your ideal audience.

So if your consulting brand is all about innovation, we don’t want to see clunky technology.

Ditto if you’re trying to sell yourself as a communications expert and your site has typos and broken links.

But those are rookie mistakes—it’s often the smaller, more subtle aspects of the experience you give your future clients and buyers that allow you to seal the deal (or blow it) early on.

The first time I “met” my VA, I was convinced I wanted to hire a firm (guaranteed back-up, 24/7 coverage) and not so sure it made sense to even talk to a solo.

Instead of trying to convince me, she just stayed true to her point of view—asking questions and making observations borne from a ton of experience helping others just like me. Almost seven years later, we’re still a team.

Of course we all have the other kind of stories too—where something just felt off and you decided to stop all forward motion (or even run screaming in the opposite direction).

The consultant who promises one experience on her website, but delivers something completely different when you actually speak with her.

Or the guy who claims deep experience in your niche, but clearly doesn’t get how your industry operates.

Those are cases of disconnect—where what they’re saying isn’t lining up with what they’re actually delivering.

Luckily, the fix is not that hard.

It means putting yourself in the shoes of your sweet-spot client and pouring over every aspect of your client experience.

Ask yourself: does this (insert specific touch point) reinforce my key brand tenets of (insert no more than 5 attributes you hold yourself accountable for)?

If you need to experiment before addressing your own, try the exercise with your favorite consumer brands.

Rothy’s rescued me from a bad gift card on a Friday night and then overnighted the shoes so I had them the next day (I never asked for or expected such swift service but you can bet I remembered it).

Branch Basics has a fabulous big idea and visual branding consistent with their message, but they can’t seem to answer a customer service email (I’m on my third try after being charged for something I never received).

Search for the touch points—digital and otherwise—that have brought you your best clients, the ones you’d replicate 100 times over.

And root out those lurking experiences that might just be turning off the wrong people. Fix the broken links and typos, yes, but dig deeper than that.

What are you promising vs. what are you actually delivering?

Any open space between the two means you’re out of alignment.

Close the gap (preferably by matching your promise with your stories, actions and visuals) and watch your consulting practice start growing more consistently.

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