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Marketing – for an Interim Management Practice

Note 6.1.8

None of this is easy...

… particularly for those with no sales or similar backgrounds – but the nearer you get to the ideal the more it will work for you.

As an Interim Manager, you need to make the running. You need to be in control of your own working life. Those who say that this approach does not work – tell us what works better (and don’t say networking because you ought to be doing that as well!). Adopt the attitude that if it is not working it is you who are not doing it properly (properly means quality and volume). You also need some luck.

Being in control means, we would suggest:-

  • Constantly looking outwards for opportunities.
  • Making new contacts all the time and exploring how mutual benefits might be created.
  • Continuously learning new things about your own professional ‘product’, relearning things you know already and practising what you do know. (If you think you know enough, it’s time to pack it in!).
  • Regularly find out what people really think about you! Are you likeable? Do you look good? Do you listen? Are you really good at what you do? If you’re barking up the wrong professional tree or clinging to the wrong professional wreckage, how would you find out? Do you need to change and can you change?
  • Developing some support activities that you can work with during downtimes (Eg: selling software, writing a book, articles, etc., lecturing, Charity work, M&A fringe work, etc.)
  • Keeping a balance in your life. If running your own serious small business becomes an all-consuming obsession (particularly if you are not making enough money) and you have no time for anything else, your performance will deteriorate.
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Marketing is about how best to get your Professional Product to the client...

…Then it becomes selling. Please read these two Sections together

  • Know exactly what your Professional Product is.
  • Which sectors are you aiming at
  • Identify the decision-makers within each target organisation. (Be vigilant about the role of HR – sometimes they are decision-makers, sometimes they are processors.)
  • Be good at what you do.

In getting to this stage, consider:

  • Where do you position your product or service in the market place?
  • Is it high quality and high price?
  • Is it marketed as a specialist product due to a particular feature?
  • What unique selling features does it have?
  • Which of these features are you going to concentrate on?
  • Or is it a commodity?

Positioning affects pricing, style and behaviour.

Then look at your Market and the process from the clients’ perspectives

For years, the Interim Management Market used to report that about 40% to 50% (varying with the economic cycles) of the market was sourced through Providers/ Agencies with the rest being sold directly to clients by Interims themselves. Sector Changes over the past few years have obfuscated this differentiation – with the market being redefined but larger. This 40% – 50% proportion is weighted much more towards Providers in the Public Sector.

Providers still collect CVs and store them on their databases but, now, have a much broader net for putting their shortlists to get.  Job Boards and websites including social media now dominate.  The decades old threat of “distintermediation” is now (marginally?) more visible but the role of intermediaries is relatively undiminished.  They can do it better that the d-i-y HR departments – and have a broader reach.

Make sure that you are visible to all the Intermediaries who you think are capable of introducing you to their Clients.

It is noticeable that many Interim Managers do not describe themselves as Interim Managers although Intermediaries and Clients do.  But the overall market has grown significantly under different descriptions – it must have done if 46% of the 32m working population in the UK are Self Drive Workers!  The label “Interim Manager” is still valid and important – but keep an eye open for what is happening around it.

Identify your targets.  (See also Section 6.1.9.)  (It’s amazing how many organisations in many different sectors can identify the most abstruse of destinations for their products – invariably with only minor modifications to exiting products.)

How do you promote your product or service? The answer is In the same way as has always been done by marketing professionals marketing professional services.  What really helps is finding ways of being heard above the noise in a climate of oversupply.   Your CV should aim to demonstrate as much as possible how you meet these criteria.

CV Guidelines

As an Interim Manager, your CV is all about your (focussed) Professional Product.

Defining it and with the supporting material demonstrating capability and pedigree in an evidenced-base way.

  • Avoid being lyrically subjective -such words as dynamic, charismatic, highly motivated”, enthusiastic are damaging! “Leadership” is a difficult sentiment to convey – it ought really to be obvious rather than stated.
  • Your CV is all about what you can do for the client – whether it is an Interim Management Provider, an end-user client or other intermediaries such as Private Equity firms, major consultancies, etc.
  • The last thing you want is a client hunting through your CV trying to find out if you might be able to do the role they are currently searching for.
  • Note that a CV works for an individual; if you are presenting yourself as a boutique consultancy – whether you actually are or not – something like a small brochure is needed. Sometimes, something simple in print also works – but have a thought for what the recipient is likely to do with it after you’ve gone!

Constructing a CV is a personal thing but here are some tips:

  • Career summary in reverse date order – your role/ job title, dates and key achievements – graduated towards less detail for older roles. If you feel compelled to disguise how old you are, leave off dates of the older roles and education, recognising that this may well be noticed – and it should not matter anyway!
  • Personal details at the end
  • 2 pages ideal – 3 OK. Having a longer CV to be used on special request often works.
  • Calibri font invariably found acceptable – 10pt body text – 11 pt subheadings and 12pt main headings
  • No fancy graphics – these irritate receivers’ software
  • Include plenty of what would deem to be trigger words – particular near the top of the first page.
  • Research a validated name to send it to, with a covering email letter – and following it with a phone call – several times if necessary. You need to form a view as to what is happening to it – and modify your marketing behaviour.

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