We’re all familiar with Aesop’s fable, “The Grasshopper and the Ant:” in the summer time when the living was easy, the grasshopper sung and played – neglecting to store food for the winter like his friend the ant. When winter came the ant was ready, but the grasshopper… notsomuch.
As independent consultants, it’s easy to get caught up in our own distractions when we are flush with client work. Like the grasshopper, it’s tempting to put off actively pursuing new business opportunities until it’s too late. Consequently, we can lose sight of what could be on the horizon—a dwindling new business funnel that’s about to run out.
Yet to ensure your survival as a consultant, it’s important to make a consistent effort to market yourself on an ongoing basis throughout the year—including during the lazy days of summer—so you keep your client roster perpetually full.
Why market in the summer?
Although the summer traditionally is considered a period of slowdown for both companies and consultants alike, it’s important to not dismiss it as an off-peak period for filling the sales funnel. Summer marketing can be a time for sowing prospecting seeds for reaping later this year or next.
Keeping new business activities up 12 months a year is important, and summer new business opportunities can include:
- Filling the Gap in Resource Constraints—Many companies, including PR and advertising agencies, have to juggle the summer holiday schedules of their staff, so June to August can be particularly ripe months for an independent consultant to fill any human resource gaps as a subcontractor. Even a small project or short stint covering while someone’s on vacation can lead to possible larger, longer-term assignments down the road.
- Cultivating Prospects— Summer can be an excellent time to lay the groundwork for new business development, so it can germinate as we head into the fall planning season. Many organizations will be prepping for next year before we know it – get on your current and prospective clients’ radar now, so you can be in an ideal position when those discussions take place.
- Doing Strategic Planning for Your Business—New business development doesn’t just involve actively implementing outbound marketing tactics – it can also include strategic planning for your Solo PR Pro practice. Take stock of your own business from a strategic planning perspective and consider scheduling regular strategic planning retreats with yourself and your mentors during slower times. If you typically experience a dip in your business during the summer, you can use this time to review and polish your own marketing materials (e.g., website, content marketing pieces, etc.). In particular, you can assess the ROI of your marketing efforts to date, and make adjustments accordingly.
- Staying Top-of-Mind—As a consultant, it is important to always be mindful of building and maintaining visibility so you remain top-of-mind with not only those within your network but also potential warm and cold prospects outside, or on the periphery of, your main network.
Engaging in new business development activities throughout the year helps to buffer your business from the typical ebbs and flows of the dreaded ‘feast or famine’ cycle that can often plague consulting businesses regardless of size. Don't be the grasshopper – be the ant!
Ensure that you make time to market yourself systematically, so you don’t fall into a trap of being too busy to promote yourself, and then realizing you don’t have enough in your prospect funnel when you most need it. Plan your new business development activities, schedule them and make them part of your routine – even in the summer time.