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What many consultants forget about
(but many clients are looking for)

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Last week, a reader reached out to me with an idea for a blog post. He’s a marketing consultant, and he frequently requests a portfolio of work from other consultants that he wants to partner with. Even though he sees their portfolio as a non-negotiable in assessing their quality of work, admittedly he doesn’t have a portfolio of his own work.

He was incredibly self-aware when he said:

“I’m honestly shocked by how many people don’t have a working portfolio or easily-available set of samples. (Myself included, which is why I know it’s such a rarity.)”

He has a point.

While marketing agencies and huge firms typically feature case studies and digital portfolios of their work, surprisingly many consultants do not (myself included).

As I pondered why this may be the case, three ideas came to mind:

1.    We focus on testimonials and forget about portfolios.

When I was putting my website together, I was so focused on collecting client testimonials to feature compelling stories and statistics about how my work positively impacted their business. After all, “Facts tell. Stories sell.”

However, what this quote omits is a key concept: approximately 65{b70789d127c08e430ee622ef228f970cb02a448e08788bca70e3c33c285e2b6e} of the population are visual learners.

What’s more? In a study called “Not Quite the Average: An Empirical Study of Web Use,” researchers discovered that on the average web page, users have time to read at most 28{b70789d127c08e430ee622ef228f970cb02a448e08788bca70e3c33c285e2b6e} of the words during an average visit; and 20{b70789d127c08e430ee622ef228f970cb02a448e08788bca70e3c33c285e2b6e} is more likely.

This is problematic when it comes to written testimonials. Readers are not going to take the necessary time to read through an entire diatribe about how wonderful your services are.

2.    When you shift to an entrepreneur mindset, sometimes you forget about your portfolio.

When you’re interviewing for a job with a hiring manager, it’s customary to bring a portfolio of work to prove to the organization that you know what you’re doing. When we open our own business, we sometimes skate on referrals and testimonials and forget that they are not always enough to land an engagement. Clients, like employers, want to see a collection of work.

3.    Falsely thinking that portfolios are for creatives only.

While this conversation was in reference to the marketing industry, having a portfolio isn’t exclusive to designers, developers, and marketers. If you’re an accountant, a real estate agent, a lawyer, or some other type of professional service provider, having a portfolio is a great practice. Not only will it help build credibility quickly, chances are many of your peers don’t have one so you can have a leg up in your industry.

This leads me to my next question…

If you’re not in a creative field, how do you develop a visual portfolio?

It’s hard for an accountant or a lawyer to have a visual representation of the work that they produce.

This is where video comes in. Video is the perfect hybrid of taking written client testimonials and displaying them in a visual format.

There are a few key things you’ll want to keep in mind when producing these videos:

1.    Get a good amount of b-roll.

Straight-to-camera interviews don’t give enough visual context about how much you helped your client. You need to interlace b-roll into your testimonial videos. B-roll are the type of shots where someone is on screen taking an action and there is a voice over from an interview playing over top of it.

So, if your accounting client is talking about how much time they were spending on invoicing and how confused they were using QuickBooks, you want to have a shot of them looking stressed out and perplexed while on a laptop.

Then, when they discuss how much time you saved them and how much business they were able to take on as a result, you can cut to a clip of them smiling while consulting their new clients.

This gives visual evidence to how their life was before you helped them and after you helped them.

2.    Formulate great questions.

When left to their own devices, clients’ default reaction on film will be “It was so great working with Kait. She really knows what she is doing.”

This is a problem. While it is very kind of your clients to talk about how wonderful you are, they are not describing the pain points they had before working with you and the benefits they experienced after they worked with you.

It is your responsibility to ask great questions that elicit these kinds of responses.

A testimonial should have a storyline:

  1. Beginning—Client was struggling with x and felt a certain negative emotion because of it
  2. Middle—You worked with client
  3. End—Client experience positive benefit 1, 2, and 3, as a result and now feels this way.

If you’re stuck on formulating these types of questions, download my testimonial guide here. I include questions that are designed to illustrate pain points and benefits when working with your clients.

3.    Make it a part of your systems.

With all things in business, if collecting a visual testimonial is not part of your defined business systems, you will forget to do it or you’ll put it off thinking you’ll get around to it “When you have time” or “When you create your new site.” This is a missed opportunity. Client excitement and satisfaction are at an all-time high while working with you and right after working with you when they are freshly experiencing the benefits of your services. THAT is when you want to capture their story.

I am so grateful that this gentleman was humble enough to bring this up as a topic for me to write about, and it’s definitely something I’m going to employ this year.

If you have any questions about marketing that you want me to dissect in a weekly blog post or my live marketing show, email me at[email protected].

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