There are basically two ways of becoming a full-time IT consultant. The popular choice is going back to school for a Masters or additional degree course, then seeking a new employer. You can still use this approach to earn a promotion in your current place of work. Bold IT professionals who prefer keeping a hold on the reins register their own IT Consultancy firms. This gives them the freedom to deal with clients directly.
In order for you to excel as an independent IT Consultant, you need to learn personal branding and networking skills. Relying on technical strengths won’t give you the same exposure as reaching out to your target audience using both off and online marketing strategies. Successful IT Consultants thrive in the market by dedicating a lot of time to researching what customers need, in order to create relevant products and services.
The good news is that you can jump-start your career by following the five tips explained below.
Join a Local Area Business Network
Seasoned entrepreneurs understand the importance of belonging to an active business network. One important advantage is that you won’t end up hiring troublesome employees. Fellow entrepreneurs usually recommend their reliable former employees to other members, since the aim of the group is to nurture success. In the event you need an affordable company attorney, you can simply send out a couple of text messages to other members.
Word-of-mouth is a timeless marketing approach that still carries a lot of weight. It may be a bit challenging to grow a sustainable customer base if you’re based in a town packed with IT consultancy companies. You can circumvent this obstacle by encouraging members in your business network to throw in a good word to potential clients. This effective approach works due to the existence of mutual trust. In the end, you’ll save a lot on your marketing budget.
You also need to keep a separate network to sustain both short and long-term operations. Keeping in touch with former job colleagues will help you have the right pool of potential employees to launch your IT firm. It’s advisable to update your phonebook with contacts of previous clients whom you believe will be interested in your firm’s IT solutions.
Create a Comprehensive Marketing Strategy
Cold pitching is the process of sending unsolicited sales copies of your products or services via email to strangers. This isn’t similar to gambling, because an entrepreneur has to conduct thorough research on the audience’s needs before sending out the emails. They also have to ensure their database contains active email addresses, because the success of the marketing campaign relies on people reading and responding to the sales content. Professional online-based marketers believe that successful cold pitching is more about the quality of the content, rather than the size of the email mailing list.
There are a variety of premium SEO tools which you can use to dominate common keywords used to search for IT Consultants on Google, Bing, and social media sites. Google Adwords provides PPC adverts, which you can use to boost your IT firm’s SEO presence. If, let’s say, you live in Denver, Colorado, you can purchase a PPC ad for a high purchase intent keyword phrase, such as “Experienced IT Consultant in Denver, Colorado.” This technique will ensure your website gains massive daily traffic from Denver-based businesses in need of your professional services.
You should also consider the content displayed on your website. Enhance your brand’s appeal by regularly posting informative articles, infographics, and short videos. Content writing also doubles up as an effective SEO strategy because it attracts large volumes of incoming traffic.
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Price Your Products and Services Rationally
Rational pricing enables you to gain and retain customers. In also ensures the business makes the cash it needs to sustain daily operations and growth. The first step to determining how much your products and services should cost, is having a total sum of your operational costs. Your accountant will then use a series of cost accounting methods to determine the right prices.
If you’re planning to become a full-time IT Consultant, you ought to know the average hourly rate competitors in your city charge their clients. This approach will make your services more affordable, especially to clients who have a modest budget. In addition, clients easily understand how the billing system works. Time-based billing ensures you get paid for all extra services offered. This reduces the risks of making losses when undertaking long and complex IT projects.
Value-based pricing is a suitable method, especially when working on custom projects. This approach works when both the IT Consultant and client agree on the value of services required. The advantage of using this approach is that you can vary your fees with each project.
Encourage Clients To Leave Positive Testimonials On Your Website
Any potential client thinking of hiring your IT services will definitely want to check out your reputation. They will want to know whether your company provides a pleasant customer experience by going through testimonials posted on your website. Having a large number of positive testimonials is an indicator that clients receive value for money. It also proves you are a credible authority in the specific market niche.
Smartphone app developers insert notifications that remind the end-users to post 5-star ratings on different app stores. You can use a series of call-to-action statements in your software and sales funnel to remind your clients to share positive reviews on respective websites. Another way of acquiring rave testimonials is by reaching out to satisfied clients, and encouraging them to share their consumer experience on your website.
Facebook also allows customers to post ratings on a company’s official page. Have your happy clients post 5-star ratings on your company's Facebook page, since this is another huge source of online traffic. Just like word-of-mouth, people will want to purchase products or services that are highly rated by their friends and other people they trust.
Acquire a Strategically Located Premises
Most IT consultancy work requires face-to-face meetings with clients. This helps the IT consultants understand the client’s needs, and work out a mutually agreed solution. As an IT consultancy firm director, you need a quiet setting in which to host your clients. This requires privacy and adequate space.
The best approach is to identify your potential clients and their areas of operation. If you’re targeting particular companies within a certain city, it makes sense to situate your offices in the same area. This ensures your office is accessible to potential clients who are interested in booking an appointment. It will also be easier for you to drive or walk to clients’ offices in case of network troubleshooting incidences.
Your ideal office space should have access to reliable internet, since a huge bulk of IT work is conducted online. Enquire whether the building provides cleaning services, or requires tenants to make their own arrangements. Check whether the boardroom is large enough to host clients comfortably during meetings. As an IT Consultant, you need a source of backup power to avoid downtime during power blackouts.
Stand Out By Offering Unique Products and Services
A successful business thrives by providing high-quality solutions to recurrent and new customers. A thoroughly researched marketing plan will enable you to stand out favorably from your competitors. Dominant industry players usually offer clients what’s not available in the local market. You need to do some research on the current market gaps in your city and then come up with unique solutions.
Summing It Up
As you enhance your technical skills, it’s advisable to upgrade your business skills. Adhering to the five tips shared in this article will enable you to develop a self-reliant and lucrative IT consultancy career, be it in self-employment or the corporate sector.
Do you have a friend who’s about to launch an IT consultancy firm? Let them learn the right way of doing it by sharing this article on Facebook or Twitter.