When I first started contracting I was terrified when a BiG4 first came on board. I assumed they'd force out all the contractors and I'd be out on the pavement. What I actually discovered was....
At a grand a day I cost my clients the same as a Manager yet provide Director level or even Partner level work/input/value/experience.
I actually know more about my areas of specialism than 90% of the generalist from Big4
I can make oodles of money without resorting to "pyramid selling", or "A Team, B Team" switching - both of which are more or less mandatory for Big4's to make their target profit.
I would NEVER advise you to attempt to compete with the bigger firms on their terms. Instead you should be instilling fear into them - "hell, there's that independent guy that the client has been working with for years - better make sure we keep him on side".
One thing I always do is position myself between the client and the consultancy team wherever possible. Volunteer to the client to brief the consultants and get them up to speed. Be helpful and friendly to them, but make sure you go back to the CLIENT and debrief him/her on good and bad aspects of how the consultancy team are moving forward. Volunteer AGAIN - this time to review the consultancies proposed scope of work, plan, etc. Use this as an opportunity to warn the client of "fat" or A Team/B Team" switches creeping in. Make sure the CLIENT starts to see you as someone that he can delegate some of the oversight of the consultancy resource to.
And always remember - you're the one that's gone independent. The others are wage slaves, busting their bones, hoping against all odds that they might suck-up their way to partner one day, and all the time terrified that going home at 9.20pm on the night of their daughters 4th birthday might lead to a downgrade in their annual review.
Stare the wooses down man. There's only one daddy at your client and when you look in the mirror, he damn well looks a lot like you.
- No offense to the many sterling professionals and very nice people who happen to be salaried employees of consultancies! :-)