Like so many today, I wear different hats at different times of the day. One moment I am a consultant, the next a project manager, and at others a provider of services online.
Now each of these areas is different and one could argue that I should keep them separate rather than combining them on one website as I have done with WealthTraders.com.
However, there are reasons why I have combined them … and believe more consultants and offline service providers should do the same.
I put aside some time aside last week to get an update on what other consultants and offline service providers are doing online. What I saw fell into three categories:
- Consultants who are switched on with a quality and detailed presentation which engenders confidence
- Consultants who are still not active online – i.e. no website
- Consultants who have a website but have overlooked some basic business fundamentals in their current operations
With the latter, there are four (4) areas many are not addressing:
What stood out as I perused multiple websites is that smaller service providers are still entrenched in a one-dimensional business model – e.g. web design, graphic design, accounts processing, etc.Sure these businesses make money today … but how long will that last?
Many big providers of professional services – e.g. major accounting firms – recognized the importance of diversification a long time ago by establishing different Divisions focused on specific market segments.
Today, diversification applies not only to the products / services you provide, but also the channels you use. Even major tech companies have recognized this:
- Apple’s exceptional performance over the past 5+ years has been driven through their use of both online and offline channels to maximize their market positioning – iTunes integration for online and Apple Stores for offline.
- Google who are viewed by many as an online business also use offline channels as well – i.e. call center to up-sell you if you are an Adwords client – whilst many of their investments / future directions are in non-Internet areas (e.g. energy, electric cars, etc).
- Amazon – well we aren’t seeing huge changes yet. However, they may be the next to move away from being a “pureplay” business with one analyst predicting in The Four Horsemen: Amazon/Apple/Facebook & Google–Who Wins/Loses that they MUST establish retail points in order to go forwards and prosper. [“Pureplay” is a term used to describe one-dimensional businesses and / or the channel used – i.e. online or offline.]
From a consultants perspective, diversification is a MUST as it gives you “current and practical expertise and perspectives” in more areas.
The way the world is heading, online delivery – and that includes delivery via mobile devices – is an area every consultant needs to be up to date on.
#2: Authority … and “secondary” income streams
What I saw as I reviewed many consultants sites is that many are still using a “corporate brochure” style of presentation. That’s not good enough – today everyone needs a website which projects AUTHORITY, delivers value, and encourages engagement / action.
Even at a very basic level, simple additions – like a “Useful Resources” page and relevant product reviews – engage people and keep them with you longer.
This is not hard to do as many organizations now provide access to their products and services via an Affiliate Program. This allows you to add external content which engages further PLUS gives you a passive “secondary” income stream when your readers click on your links and buy.
This is easier than many realize as the Affiliate software used by many Online Merchants today utilize a “transferable” cookie so that regardless of what people buy on their site, you will earn a commission. For example, with the Wealth Traders affiliate program, a SINGLE link automatically transfers across all of the fifteen (15) products in our Affiliate Program. More than 10,000 online merchants use the same Affiliate software so there’s a heap of choice.
With Affiliate Marketing driving as much as 30% of online commerce, consultants and other professional service providers who ignore it are unable to provide realistic guidance and direction to clients who should be using this channel.
Being visibly proactive adds to your credentials as someone in touch with trends in the digital world.
#3: Quality … at the right price!
Whilst quality will always be paramount in any buying decision, buyers today can avail themselves of many professional services on a remote basis … and SAVE in the process.
Offshore outsourcing has become so popular that now anyone can now use a remote virtual assistant/s or have back office services performed at a fraction of local rates with a level of surety from a quality perspective.
For example, to hire an accounts clerk in Australia will cost you $40,000+ per annum. By comparison, you can secure the services of a qualified accounts clerk (graduate) in a place like the Philippines for a third of that price. It’s no wonder demand is growing!
As an offline service provider, are you taking advantage of what offshoring provides OR, as a minimum, evaluating it’s suitability for yourself or your clients?
#4: Global Relationships
Being based in Manila most of the time, one of the things that frustrates me is how locals believe that you must do things with another local. It’s not a mindset unique to here. In fact, I see exactly the same mindset when I return to Australia.
Well it’s great to be parochial and become the king of the castle in your back yard.
However, that’s a very narrow perspective when it comes to providing advice to your clients, particularly if they seek or need to “work with best” regardless of where they are based.
As offline service providers, we should all be striving to build our global network. It’s not hard to do with services such as Linkedin there to get you started. As many of the overseas visitors I have hosted here in Manila have found, one relationship often leads to many more.
I have embraced this mindset since we started our business (in 2003). Today, just on the supplier side alone, I deal with people in different parts of Europe, the USA, Australia, and in several Asian countries. Distance is not a barrier as professionals everywhere nowadays are readily available via phone and / or online chat / video.
The positive with an online business is that you get to deal with people in all parts of the world.
The above are why I always encourage other consultants and professional service providers to incorporate an online element within their operations. They all help you broaden your perspective and ability to stay on top of an ever changing business environment.