Consultants steal your watch and then tell you the time!

Ever heard that said? I don't know if the term existed before 2005 when Martin Kihn published House of Lies, but I certainly remember hearing both clients and colleagues use the expression when I was a management consultant working in financial services in London.

On the one-hand, I get the sentiment.

Often clients leverage consultants to see the wood for trees, despite the solution being perhaps obvious to everyone else.

Or they engage a consultancy as an insurance policy. Someone to point the finger of blame at if things go wrong later. 

I actually think both of these are perfectly valid reasons and value that consultancies add, but I'd like to think there's also much more to it than just that. 

Regardless, the fact remains that consultants are selling services that are intangible. The fees are high, and you'll want at least some of them up-front. 

The risks are also high. Especially from the perspective of the client who might just be betting their career on hiring your firm!

This is where marketing comes in. Not just to get the attention of your prospects in the first place, but to smooth the way from initial contact through to deal closure. And ultimately, later on when it comes to (hopefully) future engagements with the client. 

The way in which you smooth the conversation is to build trust. 

Were it there was sufficient time and resource capacity, you might build trust purely through face-to-face interaction. But in most circumstances those days are history. 

Today central procurement teams have significant power. Decisions are made by committees. You simply can't scale to build 1-2-1 relationships with everyone involved in the decision making process. 

With digital marketing you have the opportunity to be in many places at once! To scale. To build trust and smooth the buyer journey. 

Without building trust beforehand, the sales conversation may not even happen. This is why referrals are so important as you short-cut trust building by inheriting it from the referrer.

But few firms are able to grow on referrals alone. And even referrals can benefit from a helping hand, for instance, a good website with engaging content that demonstrates your expertise. 

Of course, nothing builds trust more than having a face-to-face conversation with someone. Which is why you mustn't limit your marketing to being digital-only. You need to utilise both digital and traditional marketing channels.

And you need to combine both inbound and outbound methods.

That said, there are some simple rules to marketing - which I like to see as a game.

The game of marketing is to beat your opponents - your competitors. And let's not forget that the greatest opponent is inaction - when the client simply decides to do nothing.

So, let's briefly explain the simple rules of the game of marketing...

The Game of Marketing

‚ÄčThere are 5 rules which must be followed to win at the Game of Marketing. 


  1. Embrace failure: Marketing is all about trying things out, not all of which will work. If you're not prepared to fail, you will lose.
  2. Stop talking about yourself: Problems and opportunities are marketed, services are sold. Don't make your marketing all about you and your firm as your prospects don't care. Market your business as experts in overcoming the challenges your ideal clients are facing. 
  3. Build trust: Marketing a consulting business is all about building trust, not funnels. 
  4. Be omni-channel: A single marketing channel is not enough. You must deploy multiple channels across traditional and digital, and ensure that they work in harmony.
  5. Every single marketing channel can work if..: you commit to being consistent, persistent and patient.

Now you know the rules of the game - which puts you ahead of the vast majority of your competition - let's look at how you can get help.

The B2B Marketer provides support on a range of digital marketing channels and your overarching marketing strategy. Click the relevant icon below to learn more.


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Tap on the Strategy icon above to learn about our process, or tap individual channel icons to learn more about each channel, or tap below to learn about our other services.