SEO Consulting isn’t easy work – no matter the industry or level of skill. There’s no sugar-coating it.
While challenging, it’s also extremely rewarding.
Unfortunately, I don’t have a cheat code that I could give you to be (and remain) an excellent consultant.
It takes effort, dedication, and frequent learning and improvement.
The good news is there are certain methods for you to work to become great consultant and key area of the business.
After spending more than six years working at an electronic agency and recently making the move to in-house, this is a thing that has become a lot more clear to me.
Given that I am on “the other side,” the areas of consulting that I have always excelled at are apparent, in addition to the areas that I probably must have paid more focus on.
8 Ways to Turn into a Great Consultant
There are several factors and characteristics that produce all the difference and can set you apart from other consultants.
Alternatively, if these components lack, it can severely cripple your consulting business.
Let’s jump into a number of the methods for you to take your consulting from zero to hero.
1. Define Goals
Setting goals in the beginning of any consulting relationship is key.
This way, everyone involved in the project has a clear knowledge of the mission, what’s reasonable and obtainable, and will hold themselves accountable.
Without setting up goals, it is extremely difficult (extremely difficult) to prove value or understand if the project was successful.
Decide on what metrics are key and make certain that tracking is set up, so that you can regularly report on the progress.
If the goal is to:
Or all the above, you as well as your client must acknowledge the metrics that define success.
Along with these goals, your client must have a solid knowledge of what you need from them. After all, this is a two-way street.
The type of consulting signifies that you will not will have direct control over the execution of your recommendations.
Therefore, setting expectations in the beginning is absolutely essential.
What do you/will you will need from them to reach your goals?
Picture this – you are supplying content recommendations monthly to focus on specific keywords that you are tasked with ranking for, and an in-house writer on the team is meant to execute and implement them.
It’s now 90 days into the project, and nothing has been written. This will surely make hitting your targets challenging.
If expectations are evidently defined right away of the project, you have an improved chance of avoiding these kinds of difficult conversations.
2. Educate Your Clients
Especially in the digital space, education is a huge part of an effective client/consultant relationship.
Providing your clients with education and understanding of your expertise area will be essential in terms of proving your value.
The truth is there are so many different areas of digital marketing that you cannot expect someone to be a specialist in everything. Or, even know about guidelines and tactics in each area.
Considering SEO (only a bit of an effective digital marketing program), there’s technical SEO, key word research, external link constructing, internal cross-linking, on-page content optimization, etc.
Furthermore, the landscape is continually changing. And, if your client is not involved with SEO for a good couple of years, their understanding will be behind the changing times.
Depending on who you are working with and what their position is in the business, they may be taken off day-t0-day digital marketing tactics and count on you for that guidance.
The first part of this is understanding where your client is at.
Once you know your client’s background and experience more, you should understand the areas you need to spend time nurturing.
A classic example of this:
One time, I spent about 50 % an hour exceeding a proposed keyword strategy with a fresh client. I organized all our keyword research, and the keyword priorities that people wanted to focus on for the next couple of months.
When I stopped to ask if they had any questions, they asked, “Yes, so… what does average monthly search volume mean?”
Might I add, that is an exceptionally reasonable question to ask.
My only wish was that I spent time at the start of the conversation to get an improved understanding of their grasp on the terminology and explain what all this meant before I dove into it headfirst.
Remember, it’s practically impossible to understand the value of SEO, if you don’t understand SEO (even at a higher level). Spend the time educating your clients.
3. Show Your Expertise
A great consultant isn’t only aware of what’s happening on the account but also understands the bigger picture.
It’s extremely important to show your knowledge about the account, the business you will work with, and their industry all together.
In the discovery period, ensure that you ask questions and get all the details you need. And, it will not stop there.
Regularly check in with your client to be sure to know about key business changes, new focuses, and things which may be less of a priority.
Put in the work and really understand the business enterprise, the landscape, and key competitors.
This involves things such as subscribing to top publications in the market, establishing Google Alerts to view recent content around key focus areas, monitoring competitive activity and more.
Then, demonstrate your expertise.
Do not only take direction or instructions but tell your client what must happen to reach the goals in place. Be confident – you will be the expert.
These simple gestures can help gain trust and prove your ability and value as a consultant.
4. Clearly Answer Questions
When asked a question, an excellent consultant will evidently and immediately answer it.
I realize that this appears obvious but have found this to become a challenge that many face.
You might like to get your points across first, you may well be overwhelmed with the info you need to provide, you may well be crunched for time.
But, acknowledging and addressing your client’s questions and concerns is vital to an effective program and relationship.
A great consultant will not say something similar to: I will address that further in the presentation or let’s come back to that in a minute.
Even more importantly, an excellent consultant won’t dodge the question, supply a vague or confusing answer, or make something up.
This is not to say that you need to know the answers to everything. You should prepare as best as possible to answer questions that may arise.
If you do not know the answer, let your client understand that you will get back again to them immediately. And, make sure that you do!
5. Take Action
The nature of consulting implies that you will not always have direct control over the execution of your recommendations.
The challenge is you are relying on the execution of your tips to hit your goals.
So, what do you do when faced with this problem?
Consider the next:
Lastly, after considering each of the above, can you help with the execution of it?
Sometimes it’s worth it, if this means hitting your goals and keeping a very important client relationship.
6. Choose the best Tools
A consultant is only as good as the various tools they choose to use.
No matter just how much experience and skill you have, it’s difficult to grow without the proper tools and resources.
Tools can severely affect the efficiency of your business plus the information and data that you can to supply clients.
Having said that, the scope of the tools ought to be specific to your business size and needs.
To become a great consultant, having tools for communication, project management and digital marketing tactics is key. However, selecting the most appropriate tools could be exceptionally challenging and confusing with so many choices available.
Being at a company for such a long time, I tested many different tools including;
From this, I cannot say that one is preferable to the other but stress the value of choosing tools that are aligned together with your consulting needs rather than solely predicated on the consensus of the marketing community.
What is effective for others, might not exactly work at all for you.
7. Know Your Audience
Part of being a great consultant is knowing your audience and to be able to adapt your communication.
Always know who’s on the other end of the phone and joining meetings.
In this manner, you can tailor tips and communication in a way that everyone understands. This may also help ensure you are putting your very best foot forward with key decision makers.
For example, you will end up presenting a performance are accountable to a client as well as your contact tells you that the CMO will be joining the decision.
In that case, it seems sensible for you to give some background on who you are, goals of the project and key milestones.
You really should keep carefully the conversation more high-level by going over the bigger picture performance metrics and what it means for the business rather than granular details (unless they state otherwise).
Be sure that everyone in the conversation knows what’s happening on this program, why it really is happening (what you’re doing to drive those results) and feels that their needs or concerns are recognized.
8. Prove Your Value
Bringing this back to where it started, defining goals will help you prove value. A great consultant sets clear expectations and communicates the progress effectively.
As a consultant, it’s important that your client knows performance and, more specifically, what you are really doing to drive those results.
Additionally it is essential you are communicating performance in an easily digestible and straightforward way. This is one of the biggest challenges that I see digital marketing consultants face – reporting.
Any consultant can come up with a report of key data points and metrics that outline the performance of a website. Take it a step further and tell the story.
What do these data points actually mean for the business enterprise? What is working? What’s not working? What next steps are needed to drive performance?
Be careful not to lose your audience with a couple of technical terms: impressions, clicks, users, sessions, bounce rate, time on page, etc.
There are certain factors and characteristics that set great consultants apart from the rest, and these are just a few methods to better yourself.
The key is continuous improvement.
If you’re not continue, you’re falling behind.
Being truly a great consultant isn’t easy but it’s worthwhile – to see happy clients, establish long-term relationships, get valuable referrals and see your business grow.