The brand of your consulting firm is one of its most important assets. What do you think are the best branding strategies for consulting firms?
Content marketing involves providing a steady stream of useful information to potential clients or influencers. Think educational rather than promotional. It addresses relevance, reputation and visibility. Over time, potential clients learn how you approach problems through the content you produce and develop trust in your firm. When they need assistance, your firm is at the top of their list. Content marketing relies on winning clients by sharing something of value rather than trying to persuade or “sell” them. As such, it is a great strategy to build a brand as well as generate leads.
Many firms have experts, but few of them go on to become well known and influential with their target client group. We call these professionals Visible Experts. By deliberately developing one or more of these high-profile experts, a firm can dramatically increase the power of its brand. In fact, in our research into these experts and purchasers of their services, 61.5% of respondents said that Visible Experts help to build their firms’ brands. How?
The strength of a Visible Expert’s personal brand transfers to the entire firm by virtue of a psychological principle called the “halo effect”. In the same way as a university becomes more prestigious when it has a Nobel Prize winning faculty member, so too a professional services firm benefits by having a nationally known, high-profile expert on its team.
Partnering with prominent organizations to take on important projects is another proven strategy for building your professional services brand. Large, well-known businesses or trade associations are good partnering candidates. The idea here is to find partners that have a similar audience to your firm, but don’t provide competing services.
By partnering, we are not talking about simply sponsoring events. While sponsorships are frequently thought of as brand building strategies, they cost more and are less effective than a project partnership and consequently don’t make the list.
Instead, consider conducting a research project together or starting a special educational program. An innovative, high-profile project is more distinctive than your logo on a crowded sponsorship banner — and is a far more powerful brand building strategy.
There are many successful professional services firms that have been built on reputations made with a single name-brand client or a well-known case study. But if you systematically seek out high profile clients and invest in producing dramatic results that can be widely shared, that’s a great brand building strategy.
Of course, everyone wants prestigious clients and great results. But surprisingly few firms do the planning and investment to turn that desire into reality.
For example, a firm may land a high-profile client, but if their contract prevents them from promoting their work a brand building opportunity is lost. Or similarly a firm may focus on staying within scope rather than investing in the engagement to produce exceptional results. If you make results a deliberate brand building strategy those mistakes are less likely.
One of the most highly leveraged brand building strategies available to professional services firms today is based on the growth of social media. Businesses of all types are becoming regular users of social tools such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube.
There’s a real strategic opportunity here because many professional services firms still haven’t fully adopted social media as an integral part of their marketing strategy. It is still possible to become a major online voice within many target client groups. Many small firms and solo professionals are managing to establish strong online brands in this way.
While traditional face-to-face networking is still important, consider the time and cost savings associated with an online approach. The strongest brands are everywhere your target client looks, and they are respected by everyone they talk to. A strong social media presence is a great strategy to make that happen.