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  • Writer's pictureDeb Zahn

Grow Your Consulting Business: Nurturing People in Your Market Through Good ‘Ole Fashioned Email

Updated: Dec 2, 2022

Email is still cool.


Yes, email. I know it’s been around a long time and seems antiquated in this world of endless social media. But it still beats out social media and other ways you can connect with and market to people in your network. And it is one of the best ways to keep in contact with people and nurture a relationship with them.

If you are trying to start, build, or grow your consulting business, then consider it one of the most important tools in your marketing toolbox.

I don’t mean sending spam emails that clog someone’s email and beg to be deleted or ignored. There are, as with most things, good and bad ways to do it. So let’s talk about the good way…

Honor and Reward Their Trust

The first thing to remember is that people giving you their email or subscribing to your email list is an act of trust. No matter what, you want to honor and reward that trust. That means that, again, email marketing is not about spamming people. It’s about building and nurturing real relationships as you would with any type of relationship you care about. It’s about sharing valuable information that helps the folks who get your emails.

Know Your Purpose and Plan

You don’t want to fall into the trap of sending random emails that clearly have no purpose or plan. That just sucks up your time and energy, confuses your audience, and doesn’t yield what you want. First, you have to define what you want. Since you are in the business of consulting, the most obvious thing to want is to get more business, right? So your plan should be about how to use email marketing as a tool to get you clients.

Now getting people to subscribe to your email list and sending emails can’t be the only thing you do to get clients. You need to have an overall plan for getting business and decide how email marketing will fit within that plan and linked to other aspects of the plan. Doing it like that means that every aspect of your plan works together to achieve your business goals.

But let’s talk about the email marketing part.

At the heart of the email marketing aspect of your plan should be sending emails that enable recipients to get to know, like you, and trust you more. This is often called the know-like-trust factor, and it can be a powerful and useful way to develop a plan for what type of content you will include in your emails. It can also be a helpful way to plan out the journey you want to guide the people on your email list to take. A journey that ends with them becoming clients or repeat clients and referring you to other people in your market. There are more complex ways to construct this journey (or marketing funnel as it is called), but this is a good, simple way to start.

Know You

Email content that enables people on your email list to get to know you more could include sharing your knowledge and insights about your target market, articles that you or others write that would interest or help your recipients, and personal stories that show who you are as a person. I would also suggest showing your personality and including images of yourself and about your business and life so they can get even more of a feel for who you are.

Like You

Email content that gets your recipients to like you more shows them that you get them and care about them and that you are a knowledgeable and likeable person. The content in this category should emphasize giving them information that is valuable to them. This can include intel about their market, including your own take on opportunities or risks and/or what other experts are saying. Consider incluidng an offer of something valuable for free, such as a free tool or checklist, that will help make their lives easier and inspire gratitude. It could also include content that is aspirational and inspirational. For example, in my emails, I share my stories about mistakes I’ve made and what I learned from them and personal stories that show who I am as a person and what I have overcome to get where I am.

Trust You

Trust building should start with the very first email they get. When someone subscribes to your list, they should get a standard welcome email that thanks them for trusting you enough to give you their email and sets their expectations about the benefits they will enjoy for being on your email list. You also want to increase their trust in you by ensuring them that they won’t ever get any spam or have their information shared and by immediately giving them some value, such as links to your popular blogs, your podcast, or a free tool.

Ongoing content should consistently show them that you care about them and your clients. Share stories that you think will help your recipients. Include case studies about how you have helped other clients achieve results and client testimonials. Share tips and techniques for achieving outcomes. Doing so will show them that you know your stuff and can be trusted with their problems and aspirations.

Mix It Up

Just like in any relationship, you don’t just ask for something all the time. If you do, it will turn folks off, and they will likely opt out of being on your emails or delete them. You also will likely have people on your email list who aren’t potential clients. Maybe they are people you know, like, and trust in your market. In which case, sending them salesy emails won’t be relevant (and may harm your relationship).

So, in addition to paying attention to content that supports each step in your customer journey, I suggest mixing up the type of content you send in emails. Again, there are more complex ways to do this, but I like to keep it simple.

I suggest having content that falls into 3 categories: value, connection, and promotion.

Value content is valuable to your audience. This type of email content gives people information or tools that help them learn something new and gain a different perspective or new insight they can use in their work or life. I generally suggest posting this type of content at least 60% of the time. That will ensure that folks on your email list mostly get value out of consuming your content.

Connection content is about connecting with people on a personal level. This type of email content shares information about you as a person and lets them know that you are not just a consultant but a real person who shares some of the same joys and struggles they do. This matters because people hire people. People want to connect with and help people. People want to feel like you get who they are as people. I like to share connection content about 20% of the time.

Promotional content is content that promotes what you offer as a consultant. This could be generally talking about your offers or a specific offer. It could also be a promotional offer, such as a free webinar you are doing on a topic they care about. But this is where you are directly trying to get business so it should include a clear call to action. More on that in a moment. I suggest you share this type of content about 20% of the time.

Note that sometimes the emails you send will have all of these types of content. You might share something valuable and include a personal story that relates to your experience with what you are sharing. You might share value or connection content and then include a promotion about who you are and what you can do to help client. Just make sure your content doesn’t include promoting your services too much.

Make Emails a Pleasure to Read

People get way too many emails. It’s absurd how fast inboxes fill up these days. So if you want your emails to be read, make them pleasurable for people to read. Make them the clearest, most compelling email they’ve read all day. Something they look forward to.

My main tips for doing that are:

  • Have a non-salesy subject line that stands out and relates to something your email recipients care about, such as pain points they struggle with.

  • Tell stories so the emails feel more personal and less dry and boring and show your personality so the content feels warm and inviting.

  • Write and edit them to prevent typos and grammatical errors, ensure they follow a consistent style, and are easy to understand.

  • Include visuals so they are a delight to their sight and clear headers that let readers easily get to the content in the email they care about the most.

Don’t Make Them Wonder What to Do Now or Make it Hard to Do It

Every email should have a clear call to action, that is, something to click or a step to take if they want more from you or want to connect with you. As you map out your customer journey and build your marketing plan, plan for what those calls to action will be and how those ultimately convert people into clients.

For example, if you want them to schedule a call with you to talk about how you could help them, make that clear and include a button or link that takes them to a place they can immediately schedule a call. If you want them to get a freebie or product or go to your latest blog or podcast, have language that compels them to do that and a button or link that takes them right where you want them to go.

Systems Are Your Friend

In this digital age, you no longer have to do things the hard way. You know, entering all your emails one by one onto a distribution list or sending individual emails with the same content. There are multiple email marketing systems now available that are worth investing in to automate this once-laborious process and make your life easier. Beyond storing the emails of your subscribers, these systems will do helpful things, such as integrate with your website and social media, automatically send a welcome email to every new subscriber, let you create email sequences when you are promoting something, enable you to segment people on your email list to get different content, send surveys so you can get to know more about the people on your list and what they want, allow you to see who actually opened which emails, test different subject lines and content, and so much more. And you don’t have to use all the features of these systems to get a lot of value out of them.

Email On!

Hopefully, this has convinced you that email can be one of your most powerful tools in your marketing toolkit. If done well, it can draw people closer and closer to you and create multiple avenues for nurturing relationships in your market, getting clients, and creating a profitable consulting business.

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