In some ways, working as a consultant makes marketing pretty straightforward. You’re the face of your brand, you’re in charge of your own schedule, and you get to see how your clients achieve success firsthand—and then inspire more potential clients with those results.
You generate a flywheel effect that propels your marketing ahead. In fact, I’d wager most longtime coaches and consultants I know have many more interested clients than they have time to take on.
But all that tends to happen once you’re already well established. How do you get to that point, without spending all your time scaring up clients?
One of the most effective tactics we’ve seen at Drip to continually—and automatically—get consulting clients is a free email mini course.
With an automated email mini course, you can invest the time to create it once, offer it everywhere on your site, and watch the consultations pop up on your calendar.
I’ll show you how to do that in this post.
Step 1: Introduce Yourself & Wow Leads with Sheer Value
The best thing about offering a free email mini course is that it gives you a captive (and captivated) audience for your best insights—the ones that show your potential clients how brilliant and qualified you truly are.
A question tends to come up when consultants consider offering their expertise in a free course, however …
“If I give away my insights for free, what’s going to inspire people to pay for my consulting services?”
It’s a fair question. The answer involves a dose of human nature and a little bit of technique.
First, as a rule … your clients are busy. While your area of expertise is probably pretty all-consuming for you, it’s likely a much smaller part of the picture for them. Even if they’re highly interested in your insights, it’s unlikely that they’ll be able to take the time and effort to reach as deep an understanding of your field as you have.
And even if they do, actually developing a plan to implement those insights is another matter entirely. The vast majority of interested leads will need a hand here—and for that, they’re going to reach out to someone they trust.
If you give them a dose of your wisdom in a free email course, that person or agency can be you. And here’s the other thing about giving away your expertise in a free course: no one said you had to create brand new content for it.
It’s extremely unlikely that new subscribers have consumed every piece of high-value content you’ve created—even if you haven’t created all that much so far.
To create your course, you can repurpose and repackage existing content like …
- Blog posts: If you’ve written any long, multipart blog posts, you might even get several different email lessons out of one post—and reach people whose eyes tend to glaze over when they’re faced with more than 300 words at a time.
- Guest posts: You can’t usually republish posts you’ve written for other publications (without seriously annoying the editor), but how about excerpting that content in your email course?
- Case studies and testimonials: For consultants and agencies, these can be huge. Take one of your most successful past clients (or even a friend you’ve advised if you haven’t served many clients yet) and unpack how you helped them achieve their goal.
- Interviews: If you’ve ever been interviewed in any medium, you know exactly what people want to know about what you do. Take the answers you gave and turn them into course content.
- Podcast episodes or videos: Have any recorded content? Take the transcript, polish it up, and create email lessons out of it.
- Presentations: If you’ve ever spoken on a panel or at a conference, you have an amazing source of email course content. And only the people at that event have seen it so far, so it’ll feel really exclusive to your course subscribers.
- Social media posts and responses: This requires slightly more effort, but what about the “content” you’ve created for social media—even if you were never thinking about it as content? Have you ever posted a quick “thought starter” that got tons of follow-up comments and questions, or answered someone else’s question in a way they found extra valuable? You can expand these posts into evergreen course content.
Here’s what I want you to do right now: think about the assets above and make a list of four email-size pieces of content that all relate to one goal or theme. Now you have the meat of your first four mini course emails.
Then, in the first email of your course sequence, simply introduce yourself, quickly preview the course outline, and launch into your first “lesson.” Think back to the kinds of content above. Was their one particular topic that got so much interest, it kind of caught you off guard? Or a piece of content that was shared far more widely than you expected?
That’s the first lesson of your email course, and it’s all you need to start. Your goal in this email is just to get people opening the emails to follow, so I’d recommend you don’t distract new subscribers by including additional links or calls to action. (We’ll get there in the next step.)
Step 2: Keep Delivering Knowledge & Start Booking Consultations
After you’ve wowed subscribers with your most striking content in Email 1, some of them might be ready to jump ahead and call you up to solve their specific problems right away. Give them the opportunity to do that by including a direct consultation signup link at the end of your next three lessons. If your time and resources allow, and you’re good at closing customers one on one, try offering a free, quick phone or Skype session to all subscribers.
Just as you’ve automated your email course, you should automate your consultation signups, too. (Remember, you want this campaign to be getting you leads 24/7 with as little ongoing work as possible.) Drip integrates with several scheduling platforms, including Calendly—an elegant tool that syncs with your existing calendar and also happens to have a free plan.
That means that if you’re just starting to build your list of consulting leads, you can run this entire automated marketing campaign for free with Drip’s free 100-contact plan. Simply customize Drip’s built-in lead-capture widget to promote your free course and add it to your website or blog:
Include a link in your emails leading to a Calendly scheduling page, like this one:
Because Calendly integrates with Drip directly, you can also do something really cool here: use a Calendly signup to change the email sequence or content your subscribers are receiving.
For instance, when your subscriber creates a Calendly event with you, you can define that event as a trigger and have your workflow switch that subscriber from a post-course sequence driving toward free consultation … to a sequence that nudges people who’ve already had a free consultation to take the next step.
Or, if they sign up mid-workflow, you could even use Drip’s automation logic to make sure they don’t see your “please book a free consultation” message. Have Drip apply a tag when someone books in Calendly, and then use the Liquid templating language to control whether or not someone sees your “please book” postscript, like this:
This strategy alone should get you a steady trickle of intake appointments. In your final email, you’ll turn that into a river.
Step 3: Close with a Sales-Focused FAQ
When you assessed your existing content footprint in the previous step, you probably noticed that you kept answering certain questions that pop up in your field. Now’s the time to repurpose those questions to show the value that a potential customer can get out a relationship with you.
Frame each question so that your answer includes a soft sell and shows the value you can offer. Some good question types for this include:
- What should I do now that I know all about (the course topic)?
- Are there any alternatives to (the solution you recommend)?
- Is working with a consultant/coach really worth it?
- How do I know if (the solution you recommend) is right for my situation?
- Do you recommend any resources for learning more about (a relevant topic or challenge)?
After your FAQ, make your pitch directly. If some people don’t reach out at that point, no problem—you can simply have your workflow send them into your standard lead-nurture campaign after the course is done.
An FAQ is a great sales tool for consultants because it feels a little more interactive than the previous lessons. It’s a stepping stone to in-person conversations with you and your team—and with the help of a good email course campaign, you’ll be having as many of those conversations as you can fit into your day.
Are you using any kind of automation yet to get consulting clients? Tell us what’s working in the comments.