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The Best Branding Advice For Professional Services Firms

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Posted by John Beveridge on Apr 29, 2015 6:00:00 PM


 "Your brand is what people say about you when you're not in the room." - Jeff Bezos, Founder of Amazon 

I love that quote. Those 14 words say a whole lot. Regardless of how cool your logo is, how stunning your colors are and what a killer website you have, a bad customer experience with your company will be what you're known for. Conversely, if you have a a terrible website, but provide a great customer experience, people will say, "Those guys are great! Too bad they don't have time to update their website."

Which of those two situations would you prefer? I think everybody reading this will choose the second option (great service, poor website.) Most of us are aiming to hit both sides of the branding equation; great service and great technical branding. But for professional services firms, everyone on your team should ask themselves every morning, "What are people saying about me when I'm not in the room?"

This principle applies to both personal and corporate branding. In the case of professional services firms, the aggregate sum of your team's personal brands is really how your firm is perceived. So here is our best branding advice for professional services firms.

Traditional branding is important

Yes, your corporate branding and website are important. Your logo, colors and website should support the image you want to portray in the marketplace. Your website should be uncluttered, easy to navigate and provide the information your buyers are looking for

To illustrate why, consider the following. One of your consultants makes a new business call to a prospective customer that doesn't know your company. The meeting goes great - your consultant connects with the buyer, uncovers some opportunities and displays  a high level of expertise.

After your consultant leaves, the prospect pulls out the consultant's business card and navigates to your website. Yikes! He finds a website that hasn't been updated since Seinfeld's heyday. When you're not in the room, he's probably saying, "Sarah was really on the ball - I hope she lands at a better company some day."

The moral of the story? Appearances matter - don't let your website let your brand down.

Use content marketing to establish your brand

Content marketing is a natural way for professional services to establish their brands. By definition, professional services firms are experts in their fields. Helping potential customers by sharing your expertise is a great way to get people talking favorably about you when you're not in the room.

You don't have to give away the keys to the kingdom. Use your content marketing to help potential customers understand the problems and opportunities they face and how they might be able to solve them. Tell stories about how you've helped customers with problems that your prospects commonly face. Don't be too salesy - keep the following mantra in mind, "Above all else, be helpful."

By being helpful, your content will be shared on social media and other potential customers will find you. Be persistent and consistent with your content marketing - it's an essential marketing tactic for the modern professional services firm.

The most important thing - provide great customer service

Do I really have to say this? From what I've seen in the marketplace, apparently so. Fred Reichheld of Bain Consulting came up with the famous maxim that it costs 6 to 7 times as much to get a new customer than it does to retain an existing one. And you don't have to ask people to share the bad experiences they've had with organizations - they're more than happy to do it on their own.

Again, most of you will find this glaringly obvious, but for those of you out there giving yourselves a bad name, here's some free advice.

  • Ask questions - you will never know as much about your customer's business than they do
  • Be responsive - nobody should have to wait more than 24 hours for you to get back to them. If you can't complete the request within 24 hours, get back to them quickly and tell them how and when you will resolve the issue.
  • Do what you say you're going to do - nobody likes a big talker who consistently disappoints.
  • Ask your customer for feedback on your work product - make sure you're doing what they want you to do.

Most of us don't even think about these things; they're embedded in our psyche. But you'd be surprised at how many people don't do these things.

Always treat people with respect

Even if you do a great job solving a problem, your customer won't forget it if you act like a know-it-all and make them feel stupid. Treat everyone you meet with the utmost respect, from the receptionist who greets you when you arrive to the CEO who hired you.

Ask the people you work with what their personal goals and help them achieve them. People who do that are discussed in very good terms when they're not around. And they get hired a lot. Remember, your business life and your career is a marathon, not a sprint.

It takes years to build a great reputation and minutes to bring it crashing to the ground. Treat people with respect, because as sure as you're up now, you will need some help somewhere down the line.  You can never have too many friends when it's your turn to ask for help.

So thank you, Jeff Bezos, for giving us the best branding advice for professional services firms. You can't go wrong if you ask yourself this question every morning when you get up, "What will they say about me when I'm not in the room?"


Topics: Inbound Marketing

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