Although you will most likely be working independently, your aim is to create a highly professional image with your client. Competition is tough and standing out from the crowd is critical to get a meeting with a potential client, let alone an assignment. Simply having the skills, expertise, track record, experience and ability to do the work isn’t going to get you the assignment. Like all products (even superb ones), you still need to market yourself effectively.
Developing your personal brand, which Tessa Hood, personal branding and reputation management expert, defines as “What people say about you when you are not there!” is critical to your success. Of course, people may say nothing about you; they may not even remember meeting you! That’s not a great outcome for your marketing campaign.
So how do you want to be remembered? What do you want people to say about YOU, when you’re not there? What will make you unique, distinctive and memorable for all the right reasons?
If you were selling a global product of your own, how would you sell it? You’d make sure you were in the right marketplace, you’d price it in the right bracket, you’d promote it well, and you’d make sure it was packaged up brilliantly to catch the eye of the potential buyers. This is exactly what you must do for yourself. This mindset of thinking of yourself as ‘for sale’ just as much as any brand you know, like and trust, means you are setting out with the right attitude. This ‘productisation’ of your offering is vital to differentiate yourself and show ‘promise of value.’ However, you must be authentic. Don’t attempt to be what you are not. Any doubt about your authenticity will result in your brand being shot to pieces and of your being labelled a fake.
The following are some of your brand’s key elements:
First impressions are far more important than people usually realise. Your first impression on others when you walk into a room is made up of three values:
- 55% – your facial expression (remember to smile), hair, clothing and body language
- 38% – your voice. Not what you are saying, but pitch, pace, tone, volume, and accent
- 7% – your message
These figures are a guide only, but they are useful. Get the first 93% wrong and no-one is listening to what you have to say, they are on the back foot and your chances are already limited. People rarely change their opinion over an average – or worse – a poor first impression. Appearance, and most of all professionalism, do matter. There are too many people out there who do look smart, professional and business-ready who will be allowed to present their case without prejudice over their appearance. Clients ultimately care that their business is being represented to the best of its ability. By maintaining a tidy appearance you show respect to your interviewer and that you care about their business and have their interests at heart.
This is your primary piece of marketing material when working with interim providers. Whilst everyone has a view on what a great CV looks like, there is rarely total agreement. You will find guidelines for writing your CV that have been put together in consultation with many prominent interim service providers in our section on Writing an Interim CV.
Many interims simply use their own name plus Associates e.g. John Smith and Associates. In reality, your company name is not vitally important unless you are planning to break out and start selling product other than yourself or building a consultancy practice. You may want to use a strapline to make it clear what you do and who you do it for. If you do, make it short, concise and easy to say.
Logos, though not essential, can add interest to your marketing material. Please do not try and put one together using PowerPoint – these usually look very amateurish. Instead, ask a professional designer to create one for you. There are many graphic designers who will create logos, letterheads, business cards and email templates for you for less than £100.
The simple rules here are high quality card and printing. As an interim manager you need to be ‘on call’ pretty much all the time. Between assignments people may have an urgent need and if they can’t get hold of you, they may pass you over, so make sure you include all the various ways to contact you. You may want to use the back of your card for further information about what you do and who you do it for, or some information or model that their target market may find valuable and encourage them to carry the card around.
Website and e-mail
Whilst it is unlikely that people will find your website through a search (searches tend to find the larger interim providers or associations), it’s important to have a website to make it easy for people to pass on your details/refer you.
When registering a domain you should register a .co.uk (or the code for your own country) and a .com version wherever possible. If you will be working primarily from a single country then the local code is the most important.
The other major benefit of registering your own domain is that you have a personalised email address, which looks a great deal more professional than, for example, a Hotmail or Google address. It may also pay to have a customised email template developed (see ‘Logos’ above).
It might be worth registering your company on Business Services UK or Business Services Directory, which might help your Google ratings for certain niche searches relating to your business.
It does not need to be a huge and complex website, 3-4 pages should be enough – a home page, an ‘About’ page, a past projects and testimonials page and a contact page. If you have done some original research or have written white papers on your specialist subject, you should also include these.
Technology and communications
Being contactable is critical to success as an interim manager and there are a host of technologies to make this possible. A landline with call forwarding gives you a professional edge even if you work primarily from your mobile phone. A telephone answering service like Moneypenny, Answer or Frontline can both enhance your image and improve your effectiveness by seamlessly answering calls, setting up appointments, taking messages and even working outside of your normal business hours if needed. Skype can offer free international calls and conference calls (including video) with other Skype users and free meeting/webinar services such as Yugma and Google Plus can make online meetings incredibly simple, cost effective and time-efficient.
Next resource: Identifying your target market