Skip to content

This article is ONLY if you’re in the advice-giving business

Your low-cost marketing ideas for ‘advice-giving’ businesses


  • There’s no business without paying clients
  • The hardest thing in business is getting new clients

If you are in a new or newish business (or even mature ones) can I suggest you spend all your time marketing, selling and promoting, when you’re not sharing your advice.

My guess is you’d rather just do the work but, sorry, it just doesn’t work like that in this competitive world.

The activity list

Here is a list of what I think you should and shouldn’t do. It is graded.

5, indicates, in my opinion, as being vital and 1 is nice to do or worth thinking about. The figures in brackets relate to the year I believe you should start carrying out the activity.



When you decide to set up in business make 3 vital lists

  1. List everyone you have ever known who you think would want to help you if asked. These are people who like and trust you
  2. List exactly what areas of expertise you have and what benefits people will get from that advice.
  3. List the companies and, if possible, positions of people in those companies you wish to meet. The more specific you can be the more your friends and family can help you.

Take lists 2 and 3 to list 1 and say, “I have just started in business and this is what I do. Please can you help me? Do you know anyone at these companies or this particular person at this company”?

If they say yes ask, “If you were me how would you approach….?”

If they like and trust you they will be happy to help. Any, my goodness, at this stage you need every bit of help you can at this point!

Word of mouth

Tell just about everyone you know you’ve started. When they know, like and trust you they will want to help where they can.

Networking –  informal

Go to anything and everything. You’re a secret. ‘If you don’t go, you’ll never know’. Work hard finding out what events are on and get invited or apply to attend. You will eventually sort the good from the bad. If you restrict your work to a geographical area, stick with events in that area.

Networking – formal

Join a breakfast, lunch or evening club. You need to build solid business relationship and the 3 steps are knowing, liking and trusting. When you go regularly and meet the same people this is going to happen and they will eventually recommend you. Again use trial and error before choosing the group for you. If you restrict your work to a geographical area, stick with events in that area.


Don’t be a ‘Jack of all trades’. Become a master of one (or two). Choose an industry sector and a subject you are passionate about and focus.

Niche networking

Go to business events where those targets go.

Business cards

If you believe there may be business opportunities now or later collect all cards.

Databases and CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems

You need to set one up from day 1 and capture all the information from the cards and / or any contact you meet who could become useful business leads for the future. These systems, when used properly, will be the engine for all your marketing activities. You can create groups, send bulk emails, keep records of follow up etc.

GIVE AWAY your knowledge

We say, ‘The more you tell, the more you sell’ . At every opportunity demonstrate what you can do rather than tell people what you can do.

DON’T GIVE AWAY your knowledge

…unless there is a possible pay back. Ensure you ask for details of your audience (for your database) or ask, “When this goes well, what could happen next?” Set these expectations up at the start, there is still no such thing as a free lunch.

Consider doing work at below your normal price.

Sometimes we have to BUT ensure you say, “If we do that for you who else can you refer us to when it goes well.” (Note the word when rather than if. If you believe yourself to be any good use good positive words). Put in the confirmation the price is £xxxx + 2 referrals.


You must have one from the start. No-one will be taken as a serious business person without one.

It needs to be full of lots of free and valuable content. Add content regularly. Ensure your address is on EVERYTHING. Consider various sites.

Website optimisation

Beautifully crafted sites won’t bring visitors. Take advice on the right words to use to ensure you are close to the top of the Google rankings. Spend as much or more on this than the site production itself.

Business Cards

Whilst getting the other person’s is more important than you handing yours out ensure they look good and on the back give away some of your advice.


Create a logo and ensure it is consistent throughout all your written and website literature.

Write articles

A critical part of your marketing. Find out how to get them into magazines of your chosen sector and how to spread them widely over the internet. I keep saying, “the more you tell, the more you sell.”

Public seminars

I hold these regularly nationwide and I shudder when I think of the risk we took when starting them. We used direct mail and it cost us a King’s Ransom. But we were lucky; we got good numbers and it has been the backbone of our business development.

Start by doing free ones but remember about ‘no free lunch’.


After every speech, project or job ask, “What do you think?” We use these for opportunities to follow up (even it is bad.) We are striving to improve constantly so we want our clients to tell us what they really felt.


Try and help others as much as possible. When you want to meet someone, and you know someone who knows that someone, don’t hesitate to ask the person you know, “Please can you help me? If you were me how would you approach someone?” When people know, like and trust what you do they will be only too willing to help.


It is so easy to get your advice out in the form of a newsletter when you use your database systems effectively. Keep reminding people you’re around but always ensure you give away new and useful advice.

One to one’s

If you attend business events and networking clubs and believe you can build on that initial relationship meet separately to find out about each other’s business in more detail.


Book, e-book, CD’s, DVD’s, Booklets and Downloadable products.

Write for magazines and newspapers

Regular columns if possible although you may have to pay. Ensure your contact details are always shown.

Read the trade magazines and local newspapers

When you read fresh news about someone and you think it may be a useful connection contact to them to show you’re on the ball and start to build your relationship.

Social media and networking

Best is LinkedIn. Have an outstanding profile on there and update your status regularly.

Also Tweet and reminds people who you are through Facebook too

Take staff on

“I can’t afford to” I hear the cry. I respond, “You can’t afford not to.” If you spend time doing admin stuff you’re not marketing or doing chargeable work. Free your valuable time up and leave stuff to the administrators. Start small; take someone part time to see if you can earn more as a result.

In Summary

Unless you have millions to advertise nationwide on hoardings or TV you are going to be a secret. What I find has worked is

“Strategy for survival is visibility”


“The more you tell, the more you sell”.

If the lifetime value is big enough, never hear ‘No, we don’t want your services.’ Do hear ‘They are not yet ready for our services.’

I wish you success with your ‘advice-giving’.


Blog by Will…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *