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Business Development

Focus on the fact that 80% of good consulting assignments come from friends and business acquaintances—and from their friends and acquaintances—and you'll see why newsletters are important. They keep you in touch with your audience. 
Think about it: realtors, accounting firms, law firms-even some dentists and physicians-all send newsletters. Your neighborhood homeowners' association probably has one. Why? Because newsletters keep people informed.

Collect newsletters that come across your desk for a few months, and notice their content: trends, informative articles, facts and statistics, humor, cartoons, case studies, and testimonials.

You can be creative in the design of your newsletter, but remember your audience and their needs. Example: If my Realtor's  newsletter tells prices in my neighborhood, I'm interested. If he gives real estate prices across the U.S., I may not care. This is a short way of saying your newsletter has to give something your audience wants. It can't be all about you.

"We've moved," is an important announcement. But "We've moved and the new office has free parking and a workstation for visitors" is more interesting.

I've seen newsletters that are far too creative—that is, they employ numerous type fonts, unusual design and formatting, and they attempt to be clever or humorous. Watch out for that. Keep you newsletter simple, informative, and businesslike.

I have always avoided the 3-column finished look of a canned newsletter, opting instead for a simple one to four-page letter. If you can personalize your letter on your word processor, so much the better. Even if you type "Dear Susan," and then follow with the rest of your generic letter, that is a plus.

How often should you send a newsletter? There is no perfect timing, but choose a pattern you can repeat. If you begin monthly, then slip to quarterly, and then resort to hit-and-miss, you will have lost your marketing force. In fact, you could come across to you customers and prospects as disorganized, or incompetent.

Therefore, don't commit to more than you can do. If you're very busy and don't have much free time, begin with a quarterly letter—one every three months. If it goes easily, and you have plenty of content, switch to bi-monthly. If that goes well, try monthly. But remember, if your letter is too self-serving, and if it isn't interesting to your readers, it will be thrown in the trash. A poor letter will actually create a negative impression.


William S. Frank, M.A.,
25 Reasons I love consulting.
by William S. Frank
  1. Brand. You are your own brand, and you can define it any way you want. For many years, I provided outplacement to the ex-employees of Schlumberger, the world's largest oilfield service corporation. When departing employees left the company, they didn't request outplacement in their severance package. They said, "I want Bill Frank."
  2. Demand. The world will always be full of terrible problems that need solving.
  3. White Hat. I can be a helper and get paid for it.
  4. Pay. I can be paid to do things I'd gladly do for nothing.
  5. Variety. Every day is different.
  6. Happiness. At this stage of my career, I only work for people I respect and care about. If a client micromanages me or is otherwise no fun, I complete the assignment and replace them.
  7. Talent. I'm using 110% of my talents and stretching myself to the max.
  8. Change. I can change my focus any day I want. If you're a McDonald's franchisee, you don't say, "Hey, I've got this great idea for a meatball sandwich—let's try it out today." In consulting you can adjust your focus hour-by-hour, as long as your clients still understand and appreciate what you do.
  9. Income. No one else would pay me as much as I pay myself.
  10. FUN. I can't think of anything I'd rather be doing.
  11. Retirement. I can write and consult as long as I am physically and mentally capable. Peter Drucker worked into his 90s, and when asked which book was his best, he said: "My next one."
  12. Job Security. Although clients come and go, no one can come into my office and say, "Pack up your stuff . . . You don't work here anymore." In 29 years, I've only had one employer: ME.
  13. Travel. I don't have to travel unless I decide to. I travel if it's both FUN and profitable—or at least FUN.
  14. Commute. I live five minutes from my office, a corner office in an upscale six-story tower. In winter, I leave a heated garage at home and drive to an underground heated garage at work. There's seldom time to hear even one song on the radio.
  15. Vacation. Consulting is more fun than vacation (except on Wailea Beach in Maui).
  16. Friends. I have developed hundreds of close acquaintances and several lifetime friends.
  17. Time. I can work as much or as little as I like: four-hour days or 18-hour days. (Of course, my income will reflect that.)
  18. Employees. I can work with employees, subcontractors, partners, or alone—I've done it all.
  19. Passive Income. I've developed several products that provide "mailbox money." I earn while I'm sleeping.
  20. Ethics. I've never had to violate my values or personal code of ethics. I've never had to lie, purposely deceive or harm others, or promise things I can't deliver. I go to bed with a clear conscience. That doesn't mean there's never any conflict. But the conflict is conducted according to generally accepted business practices.
  21. Virtual. My career is fairly portable. With the Internet, e-mail, cell phone, and FedEx, I can work nationally, even internationally from my office—or anywhere in the world.
  22. Purpose. I make a difference in peoples' lives every day. I see it in their faces, hear it in their voices, and read it in their thank-yous.
  23. Experience. Every painful or joyful life experience makes me a better consultant. So does every person I meet or book I read. Grey hair can be good in consulting.
  24. Structure. I have to work very hard, and the clients expect superb results—but I get to structure my days, weeks, months, and years.
  25. Boss. Most of the time, I love my boss.
As I was posting these letters online, I realized I want to communicate my love for consulting. It's just a great business. The single letters, taken together, may create a picture of enjoyment, but in a burst of creativity I listed some of the reasons consulting is such a good fit for me—and perhaps for you, too. They are not prioritized; this is just how they came out.