If you’ve been following this blog, you’ll know I’m always advocating the need to work on your marketing as an independent consultant. When you are new to the game, this is doubly important, since word of mouth is not the fastest way to acquire new leads and customers. Therefore, you need to be a little innovative if you want to raise your consulting profile.
In this post, I want to share one of the lesser known methods of getting in front of potential clients and peers in your industry. If you enjoy writing and are reasonably good at it, you can raise your consulting profile by writing the occasional letter to the editor of a trade publication, journal, or even a local newspaper (you can write to the nationals too, but that’s less likely to get you known to a local audience).
The Marketing Power of Letters to the Editor
Often overlooked as a way for consultants to gain exposure in the marketplace, letters to the editor can be surprisingly powerful as a marketing instrument. There is one key reason for this. Anybody reading a letter to the editor is doing so because they are actively seeking opinions, trends, ideas, and news about their particular industry.
Even if the letter is in a general newspaper, the readers that scan it will do so because the headline caught their eye, often because they have a professional interest in the topic. Compare this to printed brochures carrying information about your business. Although it can be a useful way to raise your consulting profile, a brochure will seldom be in front of prospects at a point when they are predisposed to call on you for help.
So now you know a trade secret that will help you get in front of prospects who may well want to learn more about you once they read your content.
But you also need to know how to write a letter to the editor that will get published, capture readers’ attention and so raise your consulting profile.
Getting Your Letters to the Editor Published
While letters to the editor can be powerful, they are not necessarily easy to get published, so you do have to put in some effort. If you go about it the right way though, and are prepared to be a little prolific in your writing activity, you stand at least a reasonable chance of seeing some of your letters in print.
Research relevant publications and get familiar with submission guidelines. You’ll probably find your letters to the editor will need to follow specific protocols relating to content and length. Once you’ve decided on some suitable publications, start writing letters in response to the editorial topic of the day.
Of course you can’t just write anything. Your letter should be relevant to the topic you are addressing and should add extra value for the publication and its readership. You should always take a clear position on the topic and make sure the content of your letter is backed up with reliable sources; unless you make it clear you are offering your own opinion on the matter at hand.
Point to note: A letter that contradicts or opposes popular opinion on a topic always makes for a good read, so don’t be afraid to go against the grain.
If you want to get letters to the editor published, you’ll probably need to write three or more different letters each week you are “on campaign”. If that sounds onerous, take consolation in the knowledge you’ll gain on trends and latest news in your professional field.
Practice Makes Perfect
Don’t be too discouraged if none of your first few letters get published. Visit some websites providing advice to writers and keep going. The written word is important in consulting, so all the time you are writing letters to the editor, you’re also improving a practical skill for your career.
In a future post, I’ll share a little more detail about getting letters to the editor published and ensuring they successfully raise your consulting profile. However the best approach to success with writing is just to get on and do it. If you live in my area or write for supply chain publications, I look forward to reading your letter to the editor with my morning coffee sometime soon.