Are you a marketing consultant? Do you help other businesses get more customers, increase sales, and earn more profits?
If so, you should seriously consider implementing an application process as part of how you sell yourself.
Simply making your services available “by application only” instantly adds to your control over the client relationship. And as control goes, so follows respect and income. (Or, did you not read yesterday’s essay?)
But the inevitable next question is, “What should my application include?”
Well, if you offer any kind of marketing consulting services (and yes, this includes YOU, copywriters), I’m going to let you “swipe” my application.
I did a ton of legwork. I reviewed dozens’ of consultants applications, including those of top copywriters and consultants who don’t make them public.
Then, I integrated them. I looked at what questions were on all of them, meaning they were pretty much the minimum required. And I took the big idea behind them and wrote them in my own language. I also looked at unique questions only one or two asked but that seemed like they would generate really useful input, and rewrote those in my language, too.
I ended up creating a pretty-dang-fancy 2-step application that reflects the specific services I offer, and updated my Work with Roy page.
But for the vast majority of marketing consultants, I know that’s too much. (For example, you may not need an application offering a copy review option, whereas I wanted that in mine as I get that request frequently — including as I was writing the beginnings of this essay!)
And so what I did was simplified my complex application into a simple 1-step application that I believe is an effective starting point for any business or marketing consultant.
I recommend you create this using Google Forms, unless you have another form tool you use. Make sure you turn on email notifications for form submissions.
Also make sure you make all questions required, unless you really have a legitimate reason not to. In general, an application that requires more of the applicant will have a lower conversion rate, but the applicants who do submit it will be of a higher quality and more ready to do business with you. Make it too easy and you’ll have a lot more riff-raff to sort through.
I also recommend you rewrite the questions into your own language and wording where appropriate, even though I told you that you can steal them. They’re already concise and straightforward, but you can still adapt them and not have them be copy-paste identical to mine.
Here are the application questions…
I’ve put the questions themselves in italics, with commentary below in unformatted type.
You need their name. ‘Nuff said.
Ditto for email.
You want to be able to spy on them as part of the application review process. You can tell a lot about a business from its website. I’d certainly look for any current direct response marketing, as well as email sign-up forms, etc.
[_] Skype (Audio)
[_] Skype (Video)
This question is sneaky. On one level, it simply establishes communications preferences for our first call. But it also tells me how nicely I have to dress on the day our calls are scheduled. And how much they value the “face to face” of video versus audio.
Phone or Skype ID
Because I’ll need that if we do end up connecting after the application.
Briefly describe your current business. Who do you serve? What do you do? What products and services do you offer?
Here we get to the good stuff. This could be broken out into a lot of questions, but I prefer one. I want a big overview of their business. This tells me how well they know their market, as well as what solutions they’ve created for that market. This also helps me do competition research if I’m going to actually consult with them.
What is your role in the business?
This is a short-answer question after the long above, to keep momentum up on the application itself. Plus it helps me know who I’m dealing with. Are they a decision-maker? Or are they an advocate inside the larger organization, meaning there may be folks above them who would also need to be on board?
What’s your average customer/client value?
This is a very important number. On one hand, simply knowing that they know it tells me they have at least some level of marketing sophistication. On the other hand, it tells me how valuable my contribution will be per additional customer I bring in, plus sets a benchmark I can raise by helping them sell more effectively to their current customer base.
What’s your biggest challenge to growing your business?
This is the Single-Most Important Question, straight out of Ryan Levesque’s Ask Method. This tells me what they’re focused on in terms of what problems they want to solve and what opportunities they want to take advantage of. It’s probably the most important thing that they’re willing to pay big money for. Their answer to this is probably the most important thing they’ll reveal, buried in the middle of the application.
What’s your current revenue?
I can take a wild guess about whether or not I’m in their budget based on this. It sets a benchmark for the beginning of the relationship. If they don’t want to reveal it, that tells me a lot, too. Plus it sets up the next question…
Where would you like your revenue to be within three years?
I can get a good sense here of what their expectations are. Are they conservative? Aggressive? Irrational? Plus I have a sense of what we’re aiming for in terms of revenue to make them happy.
If you could wave a magic wand and immediately make anything true about your business, what would that be?
This is related to, but not identical to, the Single-Most Important Question. It’s another way to get at the core issues, and what it is about their business that keeps them up at night. If it’s aligned with their previous answer, you know you’ve hit the mother lode. If it’s something new or different, you may be dealing with urgent versus more long-term issues that would need to be addressed as appropriate.
Your financial resources?
[_] I have the financial resources to invest in my business right now
[_] I have the ability to generate the financial resources to invest in my business
[_] I don’t have the financial resources to invest in my business any time soon
This is relevant, don’t you think? You want to know if they have a budget, if you’re going to ask them for money. This at least gives you a general idea about that.
Why should I prioritize working with you over every other option available to me?
This final question turns the tables, and gets them selling themselves to you. This is very important for the expert-consultant. You want to make it clear that you have abundant opportunity, and you only want to work with them if it’s the best use of your time in that moment. This leaves them with the final thought that they really want this, and will work for it.
That’s it! Now go implement!
I’ve just handed you a ridiculously-huge breakthrough. In fact, I was kind of regretting writing this, even as I did so. Because it’d easily be worth $97 or $997 if I packaged it up into a product. But it’s worth nothing if you don’t do anything with it.
So, use what I’ve just given you, and create your own application. Then send me a note in a couple weeks as you realize what a big difference it’s made with your deal flow.
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,