One of the key things we advise our consultants to do is research the competition in their local area before they start their business and also on an ongoing basis. Having an awareness of what else is out there is useful in itself, as you come across clients, potential clients or business contacts who mention other suppliers. But it’s not just about awareness, it’s also about proactively positioning yourself to maximise the effectiveness of your marketing activities in your area.
One of the things I do when working with a new consultant before their launch is do some research with them into who else is operating in their area. We do a Google search, look at websites of competitors, look at memberships of local networking groups, look on social media. We find out what’s out there and ascertain from what we can find out about them what their approach is, what clients they seem to target, what their business ethos/products and services/qualifications are and consider what we think are their strengths and weaknesses and how far they overlap with our consultant.
Sometimes on the face of it their services and target market might be identical to our consultant. But even then finding out more can be really useful. One of our consultants found through networking that there was a particularly well-established HR consultant in her local area. But the same networking conversations also enabled her to establish that the other consultant takes a very different approach to the advice she gives clients and emphasises her strengths in a certain type of people management scenario. Her approach works for some clients and appeals to some people but doesn’t to others, and this knowledge has helped our consultant see that by emphasising the ways in which her approach differs, this is to her advantage.
There is enough work out there for everyone, but helping clients, potential clients and potential referrers to see how our consultant differs from the other consultant in her area is very useful for everyone. Potential clients can see clearly the options available for them and choose the one which suits them best, and those business contacts who might refer potential clients can either refer the one which they feel best fits with their own business ethos, or indeed could refer both consultants to different people, recommending the one they think would best suit the potential client in question.
If a potential client or referrer is presented with several consultants who all seem much-of-a-muchness, their own decision is made more difficult, and each potential client meeting is less likely to turn into a client. If a potential client or referrer can see clearly the differences between the options available locally, they are more likely to feel guided to the ‘right’ one for them. And if someone has approached you because they already feel you are the ‘right’ one for them as they have a clear idea of what you are about and how you differ from other local options, clearly they are more likely to turn from a potential client into an actual client, and the relationship is more likely to be a sustainable and profitable one long-term.
If you’d like to be self-employed and offer HR support and advice to small business owners in your local area, do get in touch.