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New Rules of Marketing: What High-Visibility Firms Do to Market Themselves Differently

We live in a world overflowing with information vying for our attention. Even through the barrage of endless marketing messages, there are some firms that stand out in our minds. We call them high-visibility firms.

What exactly are those high-visibility firms doing differently? Our research found these top performers use a blend of marketing techniques and business strategies to help elevate their visibility and demonstrate their expertise in the marketplace.

Of course expertise is crucial. But there’s another component to high-visibility expertise – your firm also has to be seen. For your expertise to matter to clients, they have to be aware of it. And for your visibility to mean anything, you have to have successfully demonstrated your relevant expertise.

Visible Firms Enjoy Higher Referrals

Our recent study on referral marketing revealed the largest and most powerful source of referrals actually comes from people who haven’t worked with your firm but who feel they know you and can speak to your expertise.

It could be that they attended a presentation you gave, or they read an educational blog post that you wrote. Whenever you leverage your expertise to educate your audience, you are also cultivating trust and credibility, which attract potential buyers, influencers and referrals.

The next logical question is ‘How can my firm become a high-visibility firm?’ To provide an answer to this question we developed a program called Visible Firm.  

SEE ALSO: Referral Marketing and Your Professional Services Brand

Inside The Visible Firm’s Playbook

The Visible Firm marketing program is based on the most extensive research into high-visibility firms ever conducted — 12 studies conducted over 8 years with over five thousand participants.  We designed this program exclusively for professional services firms who are looking for greater visibility, higher growth and more referrals.

Here’s a look under the hood at the five steps that make up the framework of the Visible Firm program.

Free Book: Spiraling Up

1) Benchmark Against High-Growth Firms

First you’ll want to benchmark your firm’s activities and outcomes against those of high-growth firms. You’ll need to ask questions such as:

  • How visible are you?
  • How does the market perceive your expertise?
  • Which marketing activities are you pursuing?
  • How effective are these activities in generating new business?

Once you’ve developed these baselines, you’ll need to assess how your measurements compare to the high-visibility firms in your industry. This benchmarking process will allow you to objectively establish where you stand today, identify how far you need to go, and pinpoint where you should prioritize your efforts.

2) Develop a Strategy

Once you have an objective, data-based sense of where you stand, the next step is to develop a marketing strategy that will help your firm share its expertise and boost its visibility.

For rising high-visibility firms, the most effective marketing strategies combine traditional techniques like in-person networking and industry trade events with online channels — such as email marketing and social media.

Our research on the most effective online marketing strategies shows that the fastest-growing firms use a mix of both traditional and online marketing approaches.

Consistently, firms that are not generating leads online lag behind those with robust online marketing programs. While firms with strong online presences lead the pack, the fastest-growing firms are those with strong online and offline lead generation efforts.

Another key component of your marketing strategy is your ability to focus on a particular niche. Focus is absolutely essential to differentiate your firm and communicate your expertise in a way that is meaningful to your audience. In fact, specializing in a niche is one of the most common characteristics distinguishing high-visibility firms.

3) Assemble Your Toolkit

Once you’ve developed a strategy that aligns your organization’s goals, its capabilities, and the dynamics of your marketplace, it’s time to assemble the foundational marketing tools and infrastructure that will allow you to carry out your strategy.

What are the right tools for you? Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all answer, but there are a few items that are essential to every firm’s visibility-building efforts:

  • A differentiated messageAll of your marketing communications, (think branding video, brochures and website), have to clearly capture what is different about your firm — and convey what makes you the best choice for your clients. Don’t forget an email list! Email remains the top performing out-bound channel for reaching your prospects.
  • High performance website. In order to build visibility, your firm’s website must be more than a digital brochure. It has to be a fine-tuned lead-generating machine that showcases your expert blog content, uses search engine optimization, contains prospect contact forms, and integrates everything with your CRM/lead tracking system.
  • Expertise/positioning profiles. To help your audience get to know your firm better, you’ll need to craft leadership expertise pages and a firm positioning profile that clearly articulates how you are different. We recommend using professional photography to give the best possible impression.
  • Social media presence. You’ll need to develop company profiles for LinkedIn, Google+, Facebook, and Twitter.
  • Expert content. To build your firm’s visibility, you will need to generate a steady stream of high-quality educational content that showcases your firm’s expertise. Which brings us to the next step…

4) Demonstrate Your Expertise Through Content

Your expert content is really the lifeblood of your efforts — it attracts new audiences and communicates exactly what you know and how you work. The most effective content educates. That means it demonstrates your expertise and helps clients solve their most critical issues.

Keep in mind, educational content should avoid being promotional. If you want to convey your firm’s expertise, consider using case studies. When framed properly, they can clearly illustrate your firm’s problem-solving capabilities. Once a firm is consistently generating content, its profile typically rises sharply.

We’ve highlighted content as a separate step, not only because your content efforts will be an ongoing effort, but because it is a potent mechanism for raising your firm’s visibility — making it one of the most critical new rules of marketing.

5) Track Your Performance

Finally, as your implement your strategy, it is absolutely critical to continuously track your performance. This may be the last step, but it’s rule number one.

Measure everything from web traffic and new leads to conversions and social media traffic — in short, all of the components that make up your strategy. If you think an approach is underperforming, experiment with a variation and see if it gets more traction. The most successful firms make incremental improvements over time.

In short, you’ll want to take a more scientific approach to marketing. When you have the discipline to experiment and track your marketing efforts, you can learn much more about buyers’ behavior and your own firm’s performance.

Top Benefits of Visible Firms

Firms that apply the new rules of marketing tend to be industry leaders. They reap the benefits of more referrals, deeper engagement with their prospects, more clients, and the ability to charge higher fees. Take these rules to heart and you’ll be able to transform your organization into a well-respected high-visibility firm.

Free Resources

To learn more about how to build a high-visibility firm, please enjoy these additional resources:

Free Book: Spiraling Up

Lee Frederiksen, Ph.D. Who wears the boots in our office? That would be Lee, our managing partner, who suits up in a pair of cowboy boots every day and drives strategy and research for our clients. With a Ph.D. in behavioral psychology, Lee is a former researcher and tenured professor at Virginia Tech, where he became a national authority on organizational behavior management and marketing. He left academia to start up and run three high-growth companies, including an $80 million runaway success story.

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