As a marketing consultant, you need to learn how to effectively communicate. If you can’t clearly communicate, the value you create for your clients will get muddled. And your clients won’t trust you.
If this happens, you’ll be screwed.
Once you learn how to effectively communicate, you’ll establish yourself as a thought leader. As a result, your clients will trust you and see the benefits of your freelance marketing services.
However, many marketing consultants believe communication is about choosing the words for your presentation, project update, or social media post.
Partially true. But your words are a minimal part of effective communication.
And in this article, we’ll skip the same shit different day advice of “you need to actively listen.” Don’t get me wrong, I agree with that advice. But you’ve heard that way too many times.
Instead, I’d like to offer you six unique tips on how to effectively communicate with consulting clients. Each tip builds upon the previous.
6 Tips to Effectively Communicate with Consulting Clients
1. Answer the Question First
Let’s say you get a tricky question from your marketing consulting client. (You’ll get a lot of these).
All of a sudden, you’re sweating a little. You’re thinking, “Damn. How can I answer this question to make me look good.”
So you jump into all sorts of background information, and five minutes later, you finally answer the question. We’ve all done it.
Let me tell you why that doesn’t work.
When you’re giving your client five minutes of background information, they are sitting there trying to sift through your spin, trying to find that nugget of truth.
Then, when you finally answer the question, your client is thinking, “Can I really trust that answer? This consultant just puked out a ton of crap.”
Answer the question first. Then provide background information.
2. Manage your emotions
As a consultant, you’re going to have difficult conversations with your clients. Sometimes an engagement won’t go as well as planned. Other times, you’ll need to tell your client what they NEED to hear and not what they want to hear.
Your clients will push back, debate, or flat-out reject your recommendations.
None of that is fun. But difficult conversations are part of the process.
Don’t let your emotions cloud your mind.
You need to manage your emotions to think clearly and respond appropriately. You’ll need to stay cool, calm, and collected. Take the time to learn specific techniques to manage your emotions.
3. Use the Rule of Three When Speaking
According to neuroscience, our brains search for patterns and structure. Three is the least amount of items in a series that create a pattern.
Once you start looking for the rule of three, you’ll find it everywhere
- Mathematics: Direct proportions
- States of matter: Solid, liquid, and gas
- Aristotle: Ethos, pathos, and logos
- Writing: Three Little Pigs and Three Blind Mice
- Nature: Land, sea, and air
To communicate effectively with your consulting clients, use the rule of three.
- Answering a question, provide three key points.
- Driving the project forward, lay out three next steps.
- Giving advice, provide three top recommendations.
4. Use “We” and “Us”
As a marketing consultant, you’re an outsider. Sometimes that’s the point and a good thing.
But other times, being an outsider hinders your ability to get things done. If you’ve been in the consulting business long enough, you know what I’m talking about.
The client team has no problem letting you know you’re not “one of them.”
So, how can communication help? When you communicate, use “We” and “Us.” By using “we” and “us,” you’re implying a group bond. Those words are inclusive and demonstrate solidarity with your client.
Those inclusive terms subconsciously build rapport with the client team. Slowly, you’ll be seen less as an outsider and more as a part of the team.
5. Slow down and pause
When you get stressed or excited, you speak fast. If you are talking too fast, your freelance marketing clients won’t be able to keep up. They’ll stop listening. Your message will lose value.
When you slow down, everyone will focus on what you’re saying and be more attentive. And your clients will be more likely to understand the message you’re communicating.
Take your time. Breathe a little. Slow down your pace.
If you’re presenting, build pauses into your speech. Consider checking in with your clients to see if they have any questions.
6. Less is more
You have no idea how often I’ve seen consultants get into trouble because they talked too much. So, in the spirit of effective communication and this tip, I’ll leave you with this quote.
“Be sincere; be brief; be seated.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt
If you follow these tips, you’ll learn how to effectively communicate with your freelance marketing clients. Of course, you’ll need to practice, but eventually, you’ll get these tips down.