If you answered no, your very next question should be, “why not?”
Your brand is how prospects learn to know and trust your firm. And if your firm isn’t top of mind for prospects, it’s most likely due to a lack of brand strength. That doesn’t mean the services and customer service you provide or your expertise are lacking – but rather that your brand is not reflecting these as effectively as it could be. So you have an opportunity to showcase these elements more.
Your brand is the combination or your reputation and visibility (brand = reputation x visibility), so it’s no surprise that brand strength significantly affects how buyers view your firm in the marketplace. Addressing your consulting firm’s brand strengths and weaknesses can help reposition you as a top of mind provider.
4 Steps to Improve Brand Strength
1. Identify Weaknesses
Even though it can be difficult to spot your own weaknesses, this step is crucial for improving your firm’s brand and position in the marketplace. If brand strength is a concern, identifying the areas of weakness that are holding your firm back should be your first priority.
Our recent research study, Referral Marketing for Professional Services Firms, revealed that firms are losing referrals as a result of brand weakness. We found that over 51% of buyers have ruled out a referral before even speaking with them. The chart below looks at some of the reasons why.
As you can see, many of the reasons that buyers rule out firms they’ve been referred to has to do with weak marketing materials – an unimpressive website, poor quality content, or not being found in online search. By understanding your firm’s own weaknesses, you can begin to move forward by developing a strategy to address them.
2. Develop a Strategy
Now that you know the areas of brand development and marketing your consulting firm may need to improve, it’s time to make a plan to address them. Think carefully about who your target audiences are and how you can best reach them to make your expertise more visible in the marketplace.
Creating educational content is an established approach that will allow you to showcase your expertise and build credibility. To begin, start by asking the question, “what are the biggest challenges my audience faces?” This will allow you to begin thinking of content topics that addresses these challenges. Next, think about the professionals at your firm. Who are the subject matter experts that can help you build credibility in the marketplace?
In order for your strategy to be effective, you also need to make sure all of your firm’s marketing tools are in place. Consider how your buyers “check out” firms in your industry, and make sure your firm is there. According to recent research, the number one method that buyers use to vet professional services providers is by looking at their website.
The next two most prevalent answers, at 63.2% and 59.9%, were online search and social media, respectively. This demonstrates how important it is to make sure that your marketing strategy addresses each of these channels so buyers can find and evaluate your firm.
3. Implement Your Strategy
Once your plan is made, it’s time to set it into action. Identify all of the tools your consulting firm will need to implement your strategy. You might ask yourself:
- Do you need to hire outside writers to assist in developing content?
- Do you have designers and web developers ready to help with your brand refresh?
- Do you have analytics experts to access and analyze your incoming data?
- Are your marketing experts ready to take on the challenge of repositioning your firm as a top provider in your industry?
These are all questions that you want to be able to answer with an enthusiastic “yes!” before implementing a strategy. Having all the right tools in place will set your firm up for success.
4. Be Persistent
When you put time and resources into making changes and developing a new strategy, it’s understandable to want to see results as soon as possible. However, it will take some time to see the impact of your efforts (usually 6-12 months), so you’ll need to exercise patience and persistence. One of the top reasons professional services firms give up on content marketing is that they don’t see results right away. Recognize that it’s a long-term approach that takes time to gain momentum.
Part of being persistent is to prioritize reviewing data and results on a regular basis. Then using the insights gained to adapt your strategy as needed. Remember, your strategy is only as good as the results you receive, so don’t be afraid to tweak various aspects until you find what works best for your firm.
If you think weak branding is holding your firm back and not helping you to be top of mind, it’s time to do something about it. By taking steps to strengthen your brand and establish your firm as a leading provider in your industry, you can change how buyers perceive you and receive more referrals that translate into more business opportunities. All it takes is a little self-reflection, planning and persistence.
- Learn more about building brand strength wiht The Brand Building Guide for Professional Services.
- Download Inside the Buyer’s Brain to learn how to build a powerful brand to help your firm close more sales.
- Get the conceptual grounding and skills you need to take your firm to a higher level of performance and growth. Check out Hinge University today.
How Hinge Can Help:
Hinge is a global leader in helping professional services firms grow faster and become more profitable. Our research-based strategies are designed to be implemented. Our groundbreaking Visible Firm® program combines strategy, implementation, training and more. And our comprehensive research and rebranding services to help firms position themselves for exceptional growth.