You can think of your brand as the combination of your firm’s reputation and visibility. The stronger your reputation and the greater your visibility, the stronger your brand will be.
Now, in order to grow your brand, you need to utilize techniques that will strengthen your reputation and visibility at the same time. These techniques make up your branding toolkit – and they will help you educate your audience, building your firm’s authority.
A Swiss Army Knife for Your Brand
The most helpful toolkit is one stocked with a wide collection of tools – we don’t want a box full of hammers if we need a socket wrench. Below are a few tools that will help you grow your brand by simultaneously strengthening your reputation and visibility.
Everyone loves a well-written, visually inviting and informative blog (you’re reading one right now). Think of your blog as a living and breathing publication for your firm, with topics and features that your clients will want to read. Blogs are essential to a strong content marketing strategy, allowing direct connection between the experts (your firm) and your specified target audience.
Blogs aren’t the only form of content marketing, however. Other forms of effective content marketing include ebooks, online videos, podcasts, and more. Recent research from the Hinge Research Institute on the effectiveness of high-growth and average-growth firms found that high-growth firms rank several forms of content among their most effective marketing techniques:
Blogs, whitepapers and ebooks, and newsletters are all ranked highly – and rated as more effective by the firms that are growing the fastest. Potential clients are seeking interactive information online about your company, and these forms of media allow you precision and consistency in your message.
You can use social media platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter to deliver your firm’s message to clients and to promote new pieces on your site. The adoption of social media by professional services firms is still in its early stages for many firms. Even so, we have seen many firms start to reap the benefits of a strong social media presence.
The Hinge Research Institute’s studies on social media usage in the professional services world have found that LinkedIn is far and away the most popular platform.
With its focus on professional life and powerful networking features such as LinkedIn Groups, LinkedIn is a natural fit for firms wishing to reach new audiences and establish credibility in the marketplace.
Say Stephen Hawking had something to say about physics – people in that field would listen, right? Name-dropping never hurt anyone, especially if that name works for your firm. We call them Visible Experts. A Visible Expert is often quoted in the media and sought out for speaking engagements. If you have individuals like this, or someone with potential for high visibility expertise, on your team, help support and develop their reputations – as their reputation grows, so does your firm’s. Ways to build the reputations of your visible experts include clever use of content marketing – have them create educational content, for example – and use of social media and speaking engagements.
Proper utilization of these tools from your marketing toolkit will allow your expertise to shine within the industry to potential clients. And the credibility earned through educating your audience with a consistent message will build trust, making it easier to close deals.
Timing is Everything
Not only do you want a versatile marketing toolkit in order to strengthen your brand, you need to know when to use what tool and why. It’s important to have tools geared towards prospects at different stages of the sales cycle.
Early & Middle Stage Buyers
Target early stage buyers with freely available content that doesn’t require prospects to give you any information: blog posts, articles, videos, etc.
In the case of the longer pieces with more perceived value, require that individuals exchange a small amount of personal information (such as their name and email address) for the content. For this stage in the pipeline, consider offering webinars, research reports, or other in-depth resources that provide more depth and precision than a blog post would. This allows you to build an email list to which you can promote more relevant content.
Late Stage Buyers
Once you have visitors’ email addresses, you can offer more substantial content like ebooks and “harder offers,” such as a free consultation or assessment. These progressively closer interactions build trust by exhibiting your firm’s expertise in the industry. Clients will see that you aren’t just engaged in challenges they are facing – they will see that you are qualified to serve them.
These are just some examples of tools your firm can use to educate and inform clients throughout the pipeline. Different visitors will be at different stages of readiness to pursue your firm’s services – some may stumble onto your blog due to relation to their industry, while other visitors will be actively seeking a service provider. Your toolkit needs to be prepared and capable of messaging your brand for potential customers at each stage of the pipeline – contact, lead, opportunity, closed customer.
Approach potential clients with the appropriate tools at the right time, strengthening your reputation and visibility, and your brand and footprint in the marketplace will grow.
To get started developing your marketing toolkit, download the Hinge Rebranding Kit below.