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 you provide, customer service, 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 firms rule out referrals have 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 where your consulting firm may need to improve, it’s time to make a plan for improvement. 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 employees at your firm. Who are the subject matter experts that can help you build credibility in the marketplace?
In order for your strategy to work, 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 way buyers check out professional services providers is by looking at their website.
The next two most prevalent answers, at 63.2% and 59.9%, were search online and social media, respectively. This demonstrates how important it is to make sure your marketing strategy addresses each of these channels in order for buyers to 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 bulk up your content?
- Do you have developers and web designers ready to help with your brand refresh?
- Do you have analytics experts who are ready 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’ll want to be answering with an enthusiastic “yes!” before implementing a strategy. Having all the right tools in place will set your firm up for the greatest chance of 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, at least), so you’ll need to exercise some patience and persistence. One of the top reasons professional services firms tend to give up on content marketing is that they don’t see results right away. Recognize that it is a long-haul process that will take time to gain momentum.
Part of being persistent is taking the time to look at data and results on a regular basis. Then use this insight to adapt your strategy along the way. 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 from being top of mind, it’s time to do something about it. By taking steps to strengthen your brand and identify 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.
This article was syndicated from Business 2 Community: Is Your Consulting Firm Top of Mind?
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