For your professional service firm, top-notch branding is crucial. Without branding, your services will have minimal audience, and ultimately, your business has much less chance of succeeding without quality leads and a fruitful, growing sales funnel.
Branding, however, is not about creating the catchiest logo, coming up with a creative company name, or disseminating a memorable advertising campaign. While those are all important to your business, and its lure of customers, your branding is what keeps those first-time customers returning, what prompts them to refer other prospective clients to your services, and what spurs organic (unpaid) marketing of your firm.
Branding is made up of two elements:
A good reputation is built by delivering what you promise. Building a world-class reputation not only requires quality services provided by capable experts, but also dependability and punctuality. An advertising guru that produces top-notch ad copy but fails to deliver it until after the broadcaster’s deadline, has hindered his firm’s reputation, because he disappointed his client. On the other hand, were that same ad guru to provide the ad design on deadline but fail to meet publication specifications, reputation would again be damaged.
A firm’s visibility is an ongoing project, often built as a result of a good reputation. Testimonials, for example, provide some of the best visibility for professional services. Online reviews, a key element of decision making for 84% of individuals, is the second-most popular way for shoppers to decide on the many merchants or service firms available to them.
Converting Reputation to Visibility
Every staff member that comes into contact with a firm’s clients should be prepared to gather testimonials. If, for example, an accountant, upon hearing from a client that “Your firm is so great – always accurate, on time, and you save me money on my taxes every year” should be prepared to say, “Would you mind if we quote you? In fact, how about we do a quick video?” Most clients would happily oblige, especially since they’re also in business and would recognize the marketing potential for their firm as well. This testimonial would then appear on the firm’s Website, its blog, its social media campaigns, and its advertising.
While social media is clearly a key element of a company’s marketing, its use is far more for visibility than sales. What some marketers and entrepreneurs fail to understand is that a promotion-focused, self-serving social-media approach is doomed. Not only will it damage a firm’s reputation, but it will turn its audience away. Social media is about being social – it really is that simple. It’s about informing, entertaining, and communicating on a personal level. It’s primarily about giving away rather than selling. The general social media rule of thumb is that 80% of a company’s posts or tweets should be informational, funny, entertaining, and unrelated to company products. The other 20% should promote the firm. If a company violates this ratio – constantly posting “Buy my services” social messages – the result could greatly reduce its following.
A professional service firm builds its great reputation by delivering on its promises. If your company falls into this category, you’ll gain much needed visibility by sharing the testimonial of satisfied customers and by being a good social neighbor, ready to help others and communicate with them, both personally and professionally.