Most professional services firms experience a natural ebb and flow in their business cycle. During slow times, firms focus on marketing efforts designed to attract new clients and grow the business. But when that work pays off, many firms make a common mistake: they stop marketing and pour all of their energy into doing the new client work. Once the project has been wrapped up, it’s back to marketing and drumming up the next big project.
What if you adopted an approach that continually brought in new business? Encouraging all team members to embrace and promote the firm’s brand value at all times and in all client interactions can help your firm grow its visibility and significantly extend the reach of its reputation. This ongoing marketing can lead new prospects to your firm, dramatically reducing those slow seasons.
Six Strategies for Ongoing Marketing Even During Busy Times
Let’s take a look at some simple techniques that can enhance firm visibility and extend the reach of a firm’s reputation, even when there seems to be too much work:
1. Speaking engagements. Consider this: 91 percent of industry experts use speaking engagements as a marketing tool, and 30 percent of non-client referrals are made because the referrer has heard them speak. Participating in industry events is a simple way to build credibility and strength in the marketplace and expand your reach. At the beginning of each year, create a calendar of potential speaking opportunities. That way, you can plan for the time it takes to apply for each one—and improve the chances of expanding your brand visibility.
2. Sales training. We’ve all heard that “everyone is in marketing”. Well, everyone is also in sales. To sell the services of your company, employees must see the company’s brand as more than a mission statement mentioned during annual firm meetings. It must be reflected in everyday interactions. One of the biggest challenges in developing brand value is ensuring that everyone in the company—from the executive suite to the job site—understands the brand and conveys it in all business dealings.
3. Networking. According to research, 82 percent of firms have received a referral from people who are not their clients. This trust in a firm’s quality comes from the strength of its reputation in the marketplace, built through interactions with other firms and examples of visible expertise. And of those referrals, 95% came from people the firms haven’t even met—which makes it crucial that every member of a firm’s team have a strong understanding of the organization’s brand and what makes it stand apart from competitors. Turns out, those past clients and partners are spreading the word about your firm to your prospects.
4. Educational content. Producing valuable content such as webinars, blogs, lunch and learns and other educational opportunities is an ideal way to develop relationships with prospects. These tools can help you to nurture prospects who may already know you but want to learn more about your thinking on issues that are important to them. At the same time, these educational pieces provide an additional benefit — these interactions can help your firm build an email list you can use in email marketing to build preference for your firm over the long term.
5. Email marketing. Regular emails are still one of the best ways to keep your brand in front of existing clients and prospects. When done properly, email marketing consistently has one of the highest ROIs of any marketing tool. While it does take time and commitment to craft a strong email campaign, this task can be tackled in batches when time is available and you can use marketing automation technology to send them at regular intervals.
6. Social media. Today, any marketing plan must include a social media strategy, since this is fast becoming a powerful new source of word-of-mouth referrals. After all, 17 percent of non-client referrals are made because of social media, 9 percent of buyers will check a firm out on social media and 2 percent of referral marketers in the 25-34 age range won’t refer a provider that is not on social media. Look at it this way: If you’re already producing educational content and scheduling speaking engagements, why wouldn’t you promote those through every available channel? And since numerous tools exist for planning and scheduling social media messages, ongoing promotions can easily be scheduled when time is available.
The Importance of Internal Commitment to Brand Value
While getting everyone in a firm on the same page can be challenging, it is crucial. An inconsistent reflection of your brand can damage your firm’s reputation significantly.
For example, consider my recent conversation with the CEO of a 35-year-old architecture firm. He was struggling to extract himself from day-to-day client management discussions. While he was excited to lead all new client pitches, they left him no time to run the firm. He was stymied because the junior staff, while technically excellent, did not communicate the firm’s differentiators as clearly as he could.
Giving junior staff a clearer understanding of the firm’s brand could have freed up this CEO’s schedule to pursue additional clients. And by developing a strong reputation in the marketplace, prospects might have arrived at those meetings with a preliminary understanding of what sets this firm apart.
While brand value most certainly is about the mission statement, it goes so much further than that. When everyone in your firm has a clear understanding of your organization’s brand, they are equipped to market your firm at every client interaction. And that creates a problem every firm wants—too much work.
- Download Hinge’s Brand Building Guide for Professional Services.
- Watch our webinar, 5 Visibility Techniques that Win New Clients, and learn how to increase your visibility and leverage both online and offline marketing techniques.
- Uncover your firm’s true differentiators in Hinge University’s course, Differentiation, Positioning & Messaging.
How Hinge Can Help:
Hinge, a global leader in professional services branding and marketing, helps firms grow faster and become more profitable. We offer a comprehensive suite of research, marketing and strategy services. Our research-based strategies are designed to be practical for firms of any size. And our groundbreaking Visible Firm® program combines research, strategy, implementation, training and more.