This week, I had the chance to engage in one of my favorite work-related activities: sharing Hinges’ insights on branding and marketing with audiences of professional services professionals. On Wednesday, I spoke to the Structural Engineers Association – Metropolitan Washington and Thursday, to the Society for Marketing Professional Services, Virginia Chapter.

These sessions focused on the Top 5 Brand Building Strategies for Professional Services Firms. In the days leading to the presentation, I scanned a few Structural Engineer Magazines and it struck me that much of the buzz around focus areas for 2013 centered on innovation. A recent article, titled “Life Span”, considered the new era of innovation for old structures, particularly bridge design. Another article on modern materials considered harmonizing the environment with modern materials, modern design, and modern technology in the new lock design of the Panama Canal.

It struck me that, of the past six issues, I could not find a single article on the “modern” business development and marketing strategies. Why not think modern when it comes to your brand?

Creating valuable content, whether it’s in written or spoken form, can take time and effort. However, it is one of the most effective brand building strategies. Take me for example, the presentations allowed me to capture useful and relevant content and share my expertise with others. Not to mention that speaking, and writing are useful in the journey to becoming a Visible ExpertSM . Offline, many professional services firms are focused on demonstrating expertise. It is time to transfer it into the online as well. There are leads waiting for you online.

Your firm’s brand is arguably its most valuable asset. Your logo IS NOT your brand. Your brand is the totality of how your audience sees, talks about, and experiences your firm. The strength of your brand is measured by Reputation x Visibility = Brand Strength. The better and more focused the reputation and the greater the visibility within the target client group, the more valuable the brand.

Benefits of refocusing your brand:

  • Re-focus strategy to the right targets
  • Strengthen your value proposition
  • Tell your story in a clear and powerful way
  • Align your staff

Rebranding is not for the faint of heart. While it can be easier to partner with a good external partner, there are tasks for the firm itself:

  • Grow faster
  • Offer new services
  • Target new clients
  • Create a clear and compelling message
  • Make sure your brand is not out of date
  • Decrease competition in the marketplace

An effective brand building strategy will help firms increase reputation, relevance, and visibility. So, what’s working in marketing for professional services?

  1. Content marketing
  2. Developing Visible ExpertsSM
  3. Cultivating prestigious teaming partners
  4. Seeking high profile clients and case stories
  5. Dominating the social media space (appropriately)

As professional services firms consider the new dynamics of how buyers buy and sellers sell in professional services, it’s useful to keep in mind the top brand-building blunders:

  1. Lack of differentiators
  2. Trying to be everything to everyone
  3. Branding while blindfolded – internal & external
  4. Making a promise you can’t keep
  5. Forgetting online branding

I’m grateful for opportunities to speak with technical professionals on the topics that are most challenging in the realm of branding and marketing. At the conclusion of each of these sessions, I always remind the audience that the process of building a brand that is meaningful is hard work. However, for firms willing to embark on more innovative approaches to branding and marketing will reap the rewards. A great start is to read our comprehensive Brand Building Guide.