There are many ways to define a brand. Some emphasize creating an emotional attachment with consumers while others focus on the totality of the customer experience. While academically interesting, these abstract concepts are often impractical, especially in the professional services. If you have actual physical products to sell, the products do the talking for you, if they are good your Customers will show and tell everyone where they got them from and why they love them, they will also discuss your customer service and online experiences. This is brand advocacy, and how the basis of trends start.
But for Professional Service vendors it is a very different story, and by showing proof is how your brand grows. More often than not gets its new contracts and business via Tender & Bids, referrals and recommendations. This can be quite restrictive in its very process and unpredictable with no guarantee you will always be the chosen one for the job. This unpredictability can make for difficult future forecasting and growth predictions.
How can you plan and focus for the future with such uncertainty hanging overhead, and how can you sustain and grow your business? By having a continuous Brand Building Strategy working online in conjunction with other business driving exercises.
Being in the Professional Services sector, particularly if you are B2B only, is very complex to sell and get new business, as any service industry has no products to show and demonstrate, selling is based on what you say, what others say about you, and how visible you are as a brand. Marketing is your best friend and should be a high priority for investment by ambitious high growth professional service companies that want to show and tell their stories to confirm their expertise and reputation.
It’s a combination of your reputation and visibility that Brand Marketing comes into play to drive new business for Professional Services, and to do this a Strategic Marketing program has to be devised that is very relevant and specific to your specialist buyers and their teams. One hit advertising wonders will not cut it in complex professional services sectors. Trust has to be earned and gained and the those stories need to be told and shared through advocacy, and that can take time to reach your target prospects.
Your Brand Reputation is your most valuable asset
There is also the fact that not everyone requiring related services wants to go through the long drawn out red tape process of tendering, and referrals are not always forthcoming. There can also be emergency situations that require a faster more agile service, so there has to be another way of securing more new business, and that is by being searchable and found online and ready with the exact content they are looking for, and helps them take the next step to engaging with you.
A strong Brand = Reputation and the need to be Visible to reach new prospects
The branding process is a systematic approach to creating and promoting a firm’s brand. It is essential to the success of any marketing and business development program. Brand building consists of five interrelated phases, each building upon the last:
- Brand Strategy
- Brand Identity
- Brand Tools
- Brand Launch
- Brand Building
The brand building process can be applied to either the development of a new brand or the re-branding of an existing firm.
When do you need the branding process?
Not all brand-related marketing efforts require a full branding process. For example, when a firm updates the look of its marketing materials — without changing its market positioning — that is unlikely to require a full branding treatment. Since only the visual aspect of the brand will be revised, the firm doesn’t necessarily need to revisit the foundational strategy behind its brand.
Common situations that do require the full branding process include:
- Re-positioning a firm to compete with a new set of competitors
- The merger of two firms with different brands
- The launch of a new firm
- A major change in strategy or direction
- The emergence of a new competitive advantage
- The addition or loss of a high visibility expert
- The launch of a significant new service line
- The “commoditisation” of existing services
The Brand Building Marketing starts with the Strategy, and the focus on this will ensure everyone is working towards the same results. There are several functions that need to be considered in the strategy, such as your brand positioning, your target markets and audience. The strategy is the How, Why and Where of your marketing and is quite different to the tactics that happen later during the marketing planning stage and the Who, What and When.