Build Credibility as a Consultant with Success Stories

Hiring a consultant can be a difficult decision for a client, especially when they’re going to be spending tens of thousands of dollars. They need to be sure that the person they’re hiring is competent, credible, trustworthy, and most importantly, effective.

Use short stories or mini case studies to build your credibility before you’ve even had a conversation with a prospective client.

Research shows that messages delivered as stories can be up to 22 times more memorable than just facts. *

Stories are effective because they’re an easy way for a prospect to understand what you do. If formatted correctly, they’re engaging, easy to skim, and enable a prospective client to identify with your work. They allow our brains to connect the dots, to tie the information to our own experiences. It’s just the way we think. A story, broken down to the simplest form, is a narrative from point A to point B, of cause and effect. When someone is looking to hire a consultant, they want to make sure they’re hiring somebody who will help them get something done; they want to avoid hiring someone who is all theory and no action.

Use short stories or case studies to build your credibility, to show prospective clients that you can “make it happen,” whatever “it” is.

Here are some quick tips for using this highly effective marketing tool:

You don’t need to include the client’s name, especially since many client contracts prevent you from using their name for marketing purposes. Instead, use a generic description like “a Fortune 500 financial services company.”

Even if you’re just starting out as an independent consultant, you can use this marketing trick. Simply downplay the company and instead summarize the division you worked for or the initiative.

Prepare two or three of these, save them as PDFs, upload to your LinkedIn profile, and post on your website.

Kendall Haven, author of Story Proof and Story Smart, considers storytelling serious business for business. “Your goal in every communication is to influence your target audience (change their attitudes, belief, knowledge, and behavior). Information alone rarely changes any of these...well-designed stories are the most effective vehicle for exerting influence.”

Influence your prospective clients before you even talk with them. Publish a few success stories to your LinkedIn profile! PICA member Teri Nagel has done a stellar job of this. Check out her customer stories on her LinkedIn profile — eye-catching, well formatted, easy to read. Then create and publish your own!

~ ~ ~

*The Science of Storytelling, Part 1 references the work of cognitive psychologist Jerome Bruner.