Grow Your Consulting Business With Change

“If you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backward.” I can’t locate the originator of that quote; it’s been attributed to a few people. Nonetheless, consider this for a moment. There are new start-ups every day—businesses that are bringing new, different and improved services and products to the market. Have you checked on your competition lately, or asked your clients how they feel about your offerings? If you don’t want to lose your clients to the competition, you need to routinely evaluate your offerings. There is much continuous change in this world that provides opportunities for improvements and if you’re not making improvements and working to grow, your business is probably shrinking.

All businesses, regardless of size, length of existence and industry, need to continue their growth efforts—continuously. Constant change is too tumultuous and confusing, but do keep abreast of your clients’ needs and the competition’s activities and make changes over time, as it’s appropriate. Stay the same, and you’re stagnating. You’ll lose business.

Change and Growth:

A large part of growing your consulting business relies on staying in touch with your clients and reaching prospective clients within your target market. There are many methods and many reasons to communicate with your market. Growth and change provide excellent opportunities for just that.

Freshen up

Growing your consulting business doesn’t mean that you need to hire employees or add more square feet. However, it’s advisable to freshen up your business. Add new services and products and incorporate new ideas and technologies into your mix to intrigue return clients and new clients. You may modify or ‘package’ some of your current services based on client feedback or just plain common sense. You might become more efficient with new processes. You might also drop a few of those services or products that are outdated or rarely sell.

Put the Old Stuff on Sale

This is a good reason to keep in touch and drive some business. Put your “older” offerings at a deep discount sale price-for the LAST TIME. Create a clearance sale, a last chance to buy ebooks or ‘How-to’ CDs or DVDs, or last chance to experience one of your seminars before you end that offering.

Think of the retail clothing industry where there are at least four turns per year, aligning roughly with each of the four seasons. Their end of season sales provide opportunity to promote their store and the sale. They draw new and returning clients. Some of those customers who go to the store will buy the sale items, some also buy new items or maybe nothing. But they saw the notice, visited the store, saw what was available and took note. The chances of them returning are greater than if they hadn’t gotten the sale notice.

An aside here is that a key to this contact is the customers’ experience. Is it pleasant and enjoyable? Does the contact offer assistance and leave a warm friendly feeling? We don’t want pressure, only an offer–an “I’m here if you need me.” We want them to remember that connection in an emotionally positive way so they will return.

Promote the New Stuff

The second part of freshening up is adding something new or improved—thus another opportunity to connect and drive business. Give your clients a reason to notice you again.

Have you added a new service? Is there a new technology available that you now include in your repertoire, such as creating or writing blogs? Do you now offer information about or provide the process for marketing on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter?

What have you added to one of your seminars, workshops or webinars? Is there a new section regarding the latest technology or new business opportunities? Do you provide some or more practical aspects about your topic? Are there new chapters in your ebook?

Maybe you have new credentials. You have completed your coaching course and now coach clients through certain niche aspects of a business. Have you added a partner so that you’ve doubled your capabilities or offerings?

Do Something Good

Another “change and grow” opportunity is to have or sponsor an annual charity event. We all know how busy the holidays are, so aim for a different time of year if possible. A slower time in your related industry would be a great time to incorporate something new. To increase your visibility and success, you can partner with other, similarly focused businesses.

The opportunities for this are pretty much endless. Businesses and charity organizations collect shoes, sneakers, coats, old cell phones, books, school supplies, foods, blankets, hats, gloves, or scarves, for example. The collections can be scheduled over a month, week, week-end, or whatever is appropriate. You could also include in the mix a business that provides an activity during a live event or offers some type of gift or return to people who show up such as a discount coupon for a future purchase or a promotional item that reminds them of the charity event or businesses.

For example, if you’re in the pet sitting business, you might partner with a groomer, a veterinarian, a pet store and a pet shelter or adoption agency. For that shelter, you can collect items that they need such as used blankets, towels and sheets or used kennels, dishes, leashes and collars for when the pets go to their new home. Post notices at each of those businesses and any other location where your target market visits—online and offline. When it’s over, you have the success story to submit to assorted medias. Voila!

Your visibility comes from your opportunity to promote the event (using each of the participating business’ names) through various medias and methods and then to report the great results to your clients and the media.

Bottom Line:

A service business like consulting needs to create its own news and make sure that the news reaches the right people. Grow, change, announce your changes and events to your target market, and ask them to spread the word. Ask clients how you’re doing and make changes based on their feedback. Clean house now and then and make that another reason to contact your client base and prospects. Create new reasons for promotional communications. Let them know you’re still there—for them!' About Kathie Smith


  1. Certainly in this business we have to keep up with the times and ‘freshening up’ as you put it, is really part of the game. We also need to be creative and accept change where necessary. Thanks for this very interesting post.

  2. Thank you, Lucy, so true. Freshening Up, or updating, is a constant in this business and a part of being a Marketing Strategist and Communications Consultant that I enjoy. I view it as both a learning and a creative process; and I love both.

    Do you have examples to share on how you do this in your business?

  3. Hi Kathie. As a Language Consultant, I mostly offer tailor-made services to my clients. These services include anything from language courses, cultural diversity management and etiquette, to planning presentations -anything related to business advancement, really.

    In my case ‘freshening up’ sometimes means looking at goals and objectives in the long run to see how well everything worked out in order to target and improve particular areas and naturally progress from there. And sometimes, it means diversifying and adding to the services for projects that require short term results. In the first instance for example, if I have helped implement a project to facilitate integration of newly arrived citizens at work, and that through various projects applicable techniques are being used and are working for everyone, then it’s time to move on to the next step (again as another long term project) – example once a- month seminars can be given on cultural awareness topics of interest for foreign business dealings.

    If, on the other hand I helped set-up refresher ESL classes for management personnel for duration of only 10 to 15 weeks, and staff is progressing well and everyone wants more classes, then I start thinking about new course material with modifications and additions. This may mean that for the next session, courses will be less general and will target specific functions necessary for different positions. This may mean that there will be more private, one- on- one lessons; or that classes will be topic oriented (example: how to deal with specifics of the job, giving presentations, travel…) Classes may be given at a different locations depending on the topic; or may be given on the phone…In other words, the program will contain a new element, or new dimension that will continue to motivate and meet client objectives in a fun, interesting way that promotes results. I always try to diversify. The objectives continue to evolve as my clients progress. I base myself on their needs while keeping in mind their motivation to get there. My motto is: If I’m bored or have seen enough of it: My clients too. (long response-sorry!)

    Keep up the great work. I love your blog.

  4. One way to move ahead is to generate more value and visibility to become top-of-mind in your market in the most efficient way – with the right partners and methods.

    Co-create a helpful Top Tips sheet (or article, blog, guest column, etc.), provide a bundled service, cross-refer, co-sponsor, etc.

    Moving from me to we thinking will be paramount in 2009

  5. Hi Kare,

    You are right–working with others is a great way to grow. Partners, either formal or loosely defined, can together generate many great ways to stay in touch with clients, gain visibility with our target markets, create bundled services, and grow our businesses.

    WIC and similar groups are good sources for support, referral, and partnership opportunities. It’s a good idea to stay alert to prospective partnerships as well as to grow your own opportunities by working with others in various activities. One of the most valuable realizations for successful entrepreneurs is that we all need to work together. We need to give and get support at many different levels.

    As well, those who are willing to change, deal with change, work with and learn from others are most likely to survive and thrive in down economies. This is the time when we learn valuable lessons and build stronger foundations that can escalate our growth when the economy improves.

    Happy New Year and Best Wishes to all for a successful and prosperous 2009.

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