Alastair McDermott consultant feast or famine rollercoaster

Alastair McDermott: How Consultants Can Avoid the Feast or Famine Rollercoaster

Show Notes:

Alastair McDermott helps specialized consultants and experts to build their authority so they can eliminate their dependence on referrals, and get out of the feast-famine cycle.

On a personal note, Alastair is a very old friend and he’s pretty much my go to guy for anything techie, but also when I need a sanity check on my decision making to ensure my thinking is sound and I’m not about to do something stupid. So he’s been invaluable to me over the years.

In this episode we discuss:

  • What to do when your word-of-mouth network gets tapped out
  • Be careful of ‘Random Acts of Marketing’
  • Why a more robust strategy is more effective
  • The holy grail for consultants
  • The big problem for independent, solo consultants
  • Evidence based research
  • Free email mini course on marketing strategy for b2b consultants & professional services


Al McBride 0:04
Welcome to the dealing with Goliath podcast. The mission is to sharpen the psychological edge in businesses with skin in the game who want to be more effective under pressure, uncover hidden value and increase profitability.Al McBride 0:16
We deliver an espresso shot of insight to boost business performance, using our five questions in nine minutes format. Our guest today is Alistair McDermott from marketing for McBride 0:29
Alastair helps independent consultants to generate more leads consistently. So they can eliminate the dependence on referrals and get out of the feast or famine cycle. He does this by helping them create an executed simple, effective marketing strategy that works for their business and client base.Al McBride 0:47
On another note, Alistair is a very old friend, and he’s pretty much my go to guy for anything techie. But also when I need a sanity check on my decision making, just to make sure my thinking is sound. I’m not about to make a mess of something or do something very stupid. So in conclusion, like he’s, he has been absolutely invaluable to me over the years. So Alastair, welcome, great to have you on the show.

Alastair McDermott 1:11
Thank you very much great to be here.

Al McBride 1:14
So as I said, it’s just a short, intense little interview and just getting the clock ready here, as you probably know, nine minutes. So we’ll kick off. And I’ll just ask you, who is your ideal client? And what’s the biggest challenge they face?

Alastair McDermott 1:32
Okay, so my ideal client is an independent consultant, or maybe a very small consultant, consulting firm of two or three people, and they don’t have any kind of marketing plan.

Alastair McDermott 1:44
They’ve been doing most of their business through word of mouth, and referrals and networking. It is a little bit inconsistent. Maybe they feel like they’re starting to top out their network, and they need to find a way of generating more consistent leads for the business.

Al McBride 2:02
Okay, and that does sound like quite a common challenge, you know, that a lot of consultants work their network, a lot of that, if you ask them an awful lot will say, Oh, it’s through word of mouth that I get my clients, right. So. So what are some of those common mistakes people make when trying to solve that problem?

Alastair McDermott 2:21
Okay, well, I think the first thing that people do is watch, your friend Tom calls random acts of marketing, which is a phrase I love. And basically, that they, they’re kind of throwing mud at the wall, and just seeing what sticks in terms of, you know, maybe they’re, they’re putting posts up on LinkedIn, or they’re trying Facebook Live, or, you know, they’re just trying random things without any kind of strategy behind it.

Alastair McDermott 2:49
You know, some of those things will actually work. It’s just that, you know, if you have a strategy behind it, you kind of take the time to make a plan and learn a bit about, you know, the different types of marketing that work in this situation. I think you can, you can make something that is more effective, and can actually bring in so many leads that you can actually start to increase your prices, which is kind of the holy grail for people.

Al McBride 3:15
Right? Okay. So the doing random things, they’re they’re trying this trying out, but they don’t really know what’s working. And maybe they don’t know why, as you said, they could be running paid ads, they could be trying all sorts of article writing all sorts of things.

Al McBride 3:31
But yeah, they need as the random acts of marketing, it’s a great phrase, it’s usually you you mix it up with, as I said, with that the feast to famine situation as well, where it’s getting things regularly in the pipeline, that really is part of that holy grail, isn’t it?

Alastair McDermott 3:46
Yeah, I think particularly for when you’re an independent consultant, you’re working on your own. So you’re working on a project. And so you’re not thinking about marketing until that project comes to the end.

Alastair McDermott 3:57
Then at that point, you’ve got an empty pipeline. So it’s very hard to kind of interrupt yourself in the middle of working on a project and saying, actually, I need to start doing some marketing now, for when this comes to an end, you know,

Al McBride 4:06
Exactly. It’s that that having things on the horizon all the time, that is so difficult, because you said people, you know, if they’re whatever, I mean, you’re talking specifically about consultants, but whatever area of an entrepreneur, self employed person, they want to be doing the work that their best stuff.

Al McBride 4:22
So yeah, it’s a difficult thing. So what might be one valuable free action that the audience can implement that will help them with that issue? What’s a free thing could they do to not to solve it necessarily, to least move them in the right direction?

Alastair McDermott 4:38
Well, okay, so So one thing that I have available for free, if you go to marketing for consultants com you can sign up for a free email mini course, which is about marketing strategy, and specifically what will work for consultants or any kind of b2b professional service.

Alastair McDermott 4:56
It’s not really for consumer stuff. It’s not really for products, but If you’re a professional service of some kind, particularly consultants, you should find that useful. So that’s completely free to sign up.

Al McBride 5:07
Okay, great. And I’m gonna read through a lot of content there. And there’s a lot of valuable insights, you have quite a few unique points of view that have been backed up by a lot of research, I believe you did quite a body of research, particularly through LinkedIn.

Alastair McDermott 5:25
Yeah. So I got this from one of my mentors and business coaches, Philip Morgan, who kind of urged me to do some research. And it’s been hugely valuable. At this point. I’m just coming up to 1000 in terms of number of return surveys, so I used to use LinkedIn to survey my ideal target audience, and to get feedback on them from them.

Alastair McDermott 5:52
Now, it wasn’t 1000 surveys on one topic, I think there is, at this point, there’s 11, different surveys. So you know, so I have a number of responses on different topics, but all from the same type of people. And it gives me huge insight into the market, it’s giving me a huge insight into what their issues are.

Alastair McDermott 6:11
It’s taught me an awful lot about what I’m selling and how it relates to to my audience. It’s also created a huge amount of data and information, that I’ll be able to repurpose, and turn into something like a book, things like that, you know,

Al McBride 6:27
Okay, very good. And that, as I said, was the background for that short mini course that you created, so that it fits the needs of, as he said, consultants who are trying to market and trying to fill that pipeline.

Al McBride 6:40
So it’s a very, very well honed on little course. Excellent stuff. What What, what might be one question I should have asked you, or that often when you do interviews, that they don’t tend to ask you that you always wished that they would.

Alastair McDermott 6:59
Okay, so this is your tricky question. Yeah. I guess. I guess because my background is kind of in web design, you will hear people say, I don’t need a website, or, you know, why don’t why should I have a website. And actually, I do think that in very limited situations, you don’t actually need a website.

Alastair McDermott 7:22
Like, if you have a business where you are getting 100% of your business from word of mouth, and you have very long projects, you might not need website at all, you know, if you’ve got if you’ve got a project that spans three or four years, which some people do, you might not need a website at all, you might just need a LinkedIn profile and, and good word of mouth.

Alastair McDermott 7:46
If you’ve got shorter projects, that are ending more frequently, and starting more frequently than you probably do need a website as a kind of a central point for your marketing and kind of to help position yourself. But yeah, there are some situations. So I guess that’s the question is, like, do I really need a website? And the answer is not always, you know,

Al McBride 8:04
right. But generally, it’s a pretty good idea.

Alastair McDermott 8:06
I think for, you know, probably 95% of consultants and professional services, just to have a website, it kind of meets the minimum bar of, you know, looking professional. So, and this is something that I found in my research, that there’s typically two types of website for consultants, and again, for any kind of professional service, and one is a passive kind of brand website.

Alastair McDermott 8:34
And that website is its equivalent of a brochure online. And its purpose is to make you look professional. So if somebody does a background check on you, after getting a recommendation, that, okay, they look genuine, they look real, let’s go with them.

Al McBride 8:48
the bare minimum kind of thing, but

Alastair McDermott 8:51
yeah, it’s the bare minimum, there’s a buyer, there’s things that you need to have, you know, it needs to load fast, it needs to look professional has to have good design, it needs to speak directly to your target audience. You know, just in terms of positioning, it needs to work well on mobile.

Alastair McDermott 9:07
You know, there’s there’s a minimum bar of things that you need to have, there’s a there’s a checklist, and if you sign up for my email list, you’ll you’ll eventually get that in your email, will, one of my emails has that. But that’s the first type of kind of, it’s a more passive website.

Alastair McDermott 9:24
The second type is a more active website, which actively generates leads for your business. That website needs to be more interactive. It needs to have a lot more content, it needs to build your authority. It usually has elements like content. It usually has email signup, and it’s just it’s a more it’s a more proactive type of website. And its job is to partly educate your customer and position your authority.

Al McBride 9:56
Okay. And that’s obviously the secret to We’re starting to at least getting ready to fill that pipeline is have something there where you can position yourself in a very positive way to your ideal client, give something of value.

Al McBride 10:11
Then as he said, when they’re ready, and it’s a good fish that they can potentially reach out to you. You’re fairly top of mind. Right? Yeah. Okay. Very good. Well, we are just coming up perfectly on the nine minutes. So well done. Thank you very much for being on the show today Alastair. Excellent.

Alastair McDermott 10:28
Good to be here. Thank you.

Al McBride 10:30
There’s the alarm gone. So as I said, Thank you for being on the show. And we hope to have you back in the coming weeks for a longer interview to really delve into some of your unique points of view. And a lot of the data that you have right behind it as well. They’re they’re not just opinions. They’re, they’re, they’re validated by science of sorts.

Alastair McDermott 10:51
Yeah, absolutely. Look forward to that. Super, thank you. Thanks for having me.

Al McBride 10:56
Yeah, cheers, man. All the best. Bye

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