It’s difficult to create a niche Web site—you have to strike a balance between valuable information that satisfies readers as well as advertisers.
Top-Consultant.com has managed to do just that by combining career advice, industry news, and promotional opportunities for consultants. Serving a diverse audience, from independent and big-firm consultants to large businesses and recruitment firms, the site offers information that’s valuable to virtually anyone whose business touches the consulting industry.
We interviewed one of the site’s owners, Tony Restell, and put together a tour of Top-Consultant’s best offerings. Here’s the scoop on the opportunities and information Top-Consultant provides.
Site history, ownership
Top-Consultant is a brand of Zambeasy.com, a Web design and ASP company founded in 2000 and based in the United Kingdom (UK). Restell and Paul Chantry own Zambeasy and Top-Consultant, and according to Restell, they’re also developing sites branded as Top-Accountant.com and Top-Banker.com to serve niche audiences in those professions.
Restell said that their consulting experience—he and Chantry worked together at Roland Berger Strategy Consultants—makes Top-Consultant a distinctive offering. After operating for a year and a half, Restell claims that the two have successfully networked with every firm in the UK and have these firms actively contributing news releases, research, and other information.
Who visits Top-Consultant?
Approximately 70 percent of Top-Consultant’s site visitors live and work in the UK, and the rest are scattered across the world, Restell said.
Restell said visitors to Top-Consultant include:
- Job candidates searching for the latest job openings or career advice.
- Consultants who are researching their competition.
- Consultants touting their firm’s expertise by posting articles.
- Executives who are hoping to reduce spending on outsourcing by recruiting consultants to work as full-time employees.
Top-Consultant’s key offerings
From breaking news to articles submitted by top firms to information about hiring trends, the site draws on the consulting industry from many angles. The best of the site’s offerings are encapsulated in a comprehensive newsletter, which has 42,000 subscribers.
Restell claims Top-Consultant’s is the most comprehensive newsletter about the consulting industry in Europe. The Institute of Management Consultancy has also outsourced its newsletter to Top-Consultant.
Recent consulting-related headlines are rotated in a box at the bottom of most pages on the site, as shown in Figure A. Visitors can go to the Headlines page to see encapsulated reports, or click the News link in the top navigation bar to explore headlines with links to fuller articles.
|Recent headlines rotate at the bottom of most pages on the site.|
Top-Consultant provides editorial features and interviews with executives in the industry. Recent articles and reports include:
- "Making the transition from industry to consulting"
- "Interview tips"
- "The pros and cons of internal consulting roles"
- "The tide is turning in technology"
- "Avoiding application blunders"
An entire section of the site is devoted to career advice, which includes information on salary trends, “who’s hiring and who’s firing,” and the types of consultants who are most in demand, Restell said.
If you want to know what it’s really like to work for a particular firm, check out the Insiders' Guide, which works like a forum. Anonymous posters provide insight about company culture and attitudes. A quick glance may reveal that, for instance, “if you are not a strong personality type, you could find it hard to acclimate” at Bain & Company, or that Corporate Value Associates offers “a close-knit environment.”
If you need more information about a particular consultancy, look at the Company Profile section. Each company name is followed by a series of dots that link to further information about the company on the site. For example, you can link to news items about the firm or an in-depth profile, if one has been created.
From consulting for airlines to speaking at conferences to the importance of an MBA, you’ll find a diversity of topics in the Top-Consultant forum. Restell and Chantry put their knowledge to use by joining in the discussions and offering advice. Fun and colorful icons (see Figure B) punctuate the postings, offering chatters a way to identify new ideas, questions, or negative thoughts.
|Icons connote a mood for Top-Consultant’s forum posts.|
Ask a guru
The site also offers an opportunity for consultants to promote their thought leadership in different areas, Restell said. “Firms can actually post up reports and articles that their consultants have written if they want to flag themselves as experts in the area of CRM or whatever area they choose.”
These articles are posted in the Ask A Guru area. This area includes a global directory of consultants who have listed their expertise. Site visitors can search for a consultant or subcontractor with specific skills. The search parameters include country, skill or function, industry, and free-form keywords. Visitors can then use the listed information to contact the consultants directly.
It’s free to be listed as a guru. Consultants can upload the details of their skills and services as well as articles or reports they’ve written. An e-mail link, as well as a link to your home site, may be included.
Looking toward the future
Restell said he and Chantry originally thought they’d charge consultants to be listed as a guru, but they’ve changed their minds because the listings have been a valuable tool to drive visitors back to the site. Instead, they plan to set up a subscription service in which consultants would pay to see a listing of contract assignments currently available. Companies will be able to post the opportunities, and consultants will be able to contact them directly. Restell claims that if the work were advertised through an agency, the cost would be marked up by as much as 40 percent for the client, and fewer consultants would be notified about the opportunity.
Restell and Chantry hope to replicate the success of Top-Consultant in the United States. Restell said they had hoped to begin these efforts sooner but have held off due to bad economic conditions. He said they would begin a marketing drive targeted to U.S. consultancies in the near future.
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