Marketing in the world of consulting may not be easy, but it is quite simple.

It’s all about understanding trust. Trust is more valuable than cash.

Trust is the currency of professional services

The purchase of consulting services is very different from other types of purchases, which is why so much of the marketing advice you see is simply not at all relevant to you.

Consulting is a relationship

When a client buys a service from you, they’re entering a relationship with you. This is not a fleeting transaction in a convenience store. They are going to have to live with the consequences of their decisions for the duration of the engagement, and with the outcome for significantly longer. And with consulting engagements frequently lasting months or even years, this is a significant factor.

Consulting services are intangible

We can’t pick up a service and knock on the surface to see if it seems high quality. We can’t look at product photos and read Amazon reviews. It can be secretive – quite often buyers of these services don’t want anyone to know that they engaged with a particular provider or service.

Consulting services are often transformative in nature

It’s quite routine for a client to engage with a consultant with the goal of fundamentally changing their business. That implies a huge degree of risk – the client is often risking their own reputation, their job or their entire business.

All of these factors combine to result in trust often being the single most important consideration in the purchase decision for the buyer.

It’s why my research discovered that personal referral is consistently reported as the top method of lead generation – with networking events second – for consulting firms size 1-10, 11-50 and 51-200.

If you want to move away from a dependence on referrals and systematize your lead generation, you need to find another way to generate trust.

Read more about the different types of trust required for lead generation.