As a consultant in need of clients, you’re going to hear many people saying the same thing:

I have the ONE way to get you [insert unreasonable number] of new leads and clients in [insert unreasonably short timeframe]!

There are a number of issues with this:

  • It relies on that one tactic working well for a wide variety of individuals with different markets
  • It assumes that everyone can leverage that tactic in the same, exact manner
  • It’s likely a short-sighted tactic that will soon expire in efficacy
  • It usually focuses on teaching a mindless process to follow, void of a competency to develop

Good marketing develops the marketer in the process. It’s sustainable and inherently builds on itself long-term. It’s focused on contribution. And while general guidelines exist, it isn’t the same for everyone.

Since most of our clients are solo-consultants and small boutique firms, we teach a philosophy of Personality-Based Marketing.

What is Personality-Based Marketing?

Personality-Based Marketing is actually about the marketer, not those you are marketing to. The term refers to using a marketing approach that is congruent with who you are as an individual.

The strategies of leveraging social media, public speaking, and writing blogs all require different personalities. Furthermore, the methods we see hyped up that attempt to automate marketing at the sacrifice of professionalism, quality and contribution to the audience. This requires one’s comfort in accepting this trade-off.

We follow this philosophy because every consultant ends up facing the same marketing challenge: consistency.

There are two common reasons people have an issue with being consistent with their marketing:

  1. They experience cognitive dissonance
  2. They lack a vision of where the marketing is leading them

How Marketers Experience Cognitive Dissonance

Cognitive Dissonance affects us all in some capacity. To understand how it limits our marketing efforts, we must understand the concept. In his book A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance (1957), psychologist Leon Festinger describes the feeling well.

Cognitive dissonance is the feeling experienced when two thoughts, ideas, actions or beliefs are held that are fundamentally incongruent with each other. As a result, we naturally gravitate in the direction that relieves us of this discomfort.

It is impossible for humans to continue on a path that causes cognitive dissonance. When your marketing activities are incongruent with your values, you end up slacking off, not committing, and starting over. (See our values to understand the criteria we hold our own marketing to.)

When do you see this? Maybe with those automated messages you tried sending out that you know most recipients felt were spammy. Or when you tried to force yourself to product video content and quickly found out that you hate everything about the process and being on camera.

Whether it is the principles behind the methodology or the function of what you have to do to make that marketing happen, if great psychological discomfort exists, you will struggle.

Whether you cancel or change the activity is your next choice. Where possible, if it is an activity that resonates with your market, you may want to save the effort. Nonetheless, you do always have other options in how to market your business, so that becomes an alternative choice.

The Consultant’s Vision on Marketing Leads to a Bigger Tomorrow

The next sticking point occurs whether or not someone feels that the marketing is congruent with who they are and how they wish to be positioned in the market. It’s about vision.

Lacking vision in your business and marketing results in greater struggle to be consistent in the long-term. When we start marketing initiatives without the complete plan of where we are going, it makes the “end” appear too far to ever be seen. We lose motivation and inspiration. Eventually, our energy depletes.

For a strong vision that will keep you committed to your marketing, you are going to need to know answers to a few questions, such as:

  • What happens if our marketing works really well? What do the future growth stages of our business look like?
  • Do we gain any ancillary benefits from the marketing? (Market research, in terms of a better understanding of the market and target audience; or, intellectual development, in terms of how we are better able to understand and articulate our subject-matter by the nature of developing marketing content)
  • Is this an effort that contributes to our market and our overall mission? Does it fit who we are and what we aim to accomplish?

Simply knowing where your business is going and how your marketing contributes to you and your market will help you emotionally stay engaged.

Because at the end of the day, regardless of how technically sound your marketing efforts are, if you cannot stick to them personally, it’s not enough. Inconsistent marketing is not good marketing.

Action Step: Evaluate Your Current Marketing Efforts

Finding the marketing activities that fit you and your firm’s personality is fundamental to ensuring sustainability of your marketing efforts. No efforts are effective if not sustainable.

Consulting clients don’t come from the latest marketing trend. They come from conversations you have through meaningful outreach. An entrepreneur should always think about value, not tricks.

Even so, you cannot select your marketing activities based on what you find the most easy. It must still resonate with your market. And, you should challenge yourself. But, be honest about what you are capable of moving forward with long-term. Building a consulting practice will be stressful enough, whether it’s going well or not.

Take this mindset and apply it to your efforts today. How well aligned are they to your personality? Where do you feel discomfort in executing that marketing? How significant is that feeling?

It will be interesting for you to also examine the marketing you have implemented in the past, but no longer perform. Chances are if you dig deep enough, you’ll find that cognitive dissonance and lacking vision lead to suspending those efforts.

Remember also, your consultancy’s marketing activities is not where you should begin. Getting your messaging right is mandatory to find success, no matter the channel.

David J. Bradley, MBA is the founder of Consulting MBA, managing director of Bbg, Inc., and a published author. He regularly contributes to other publications and has been featured on Business Insider, Microsoft Publications, PR Daily, Capital One’s Spark Business and more. Connect with David on Twitter: @DavidBradleyMBA.