Why This Ultimate Guide?
I prepared this guide to help you do what you need to do in order to find new clients and generate more new business for your service business.
As helpful as the content may well be, the real value lies in the outcome of your effort in answering the questions raised and exercises incorporated into in the guide.
And this includes the links to other resources.
There is no prize in completing the guide as quickly as possible.
Your real rewards come from how effectively you apply the key elements of the guide.
“By definition, brand strategy is a long-term plan for the development of a successful brand in order to achieve specific goals.
A well-defined and executed brand strategy affects all aspects of a business and is directly connected to consumer needs, emotions, and competitive environments…”
Applying this definition to those of us who earn a living by providing professional services, a brand strategy would be…Source: Introduction to Brand Strategy – Part 1: What Is Brand Strategy?
…a long-term plan for the development of a successful professional service brand in order to achieve specific business and personal goals.
At the very least, this plan will identify business and personal goals, as well as strategies to achieve these goals.
Why Your Professional Services Brand Is Important
As the leading authority in the science of growth for professional services firms, Hinge Marketing publishes ground-breaking research that is uncovers why high growth firms outperform their peers.
One such research project was to “… figure out what was going on and exactly what they [highly successful professionals] did to develop and market their personal brands…”
These findings were published in The Visible Expert. Among the most significant findings was that highly visible experts generate substantially more revenue than average professionals.
Hinge partner Elizabeth Harr, explains:
“…Higher billing rates aren’t the only benefit. Here are a few others:
- Highly visible experts attract more media attention.
“When a reporter needs an authoritative quote, they reach out to the experts most closely associated with the issue at hand.
- Well-branded experts also are able to secure valuable partnerships more easily, and with more desirable organizations.
- … they attract better quality clients …
- In many cases, clients will seek out an expert — cutting out the competitive proposal process entirely.
- Experts with strong personal brands also benefit their firms.
“As a result of the halo effect, an expert’s reputation often spills over to the organization he or she works for.
“This relationship can have very real effects on a firm’s brand and business development prospects. …”
The bottom line on personal branding…
…if you want to attract more new clients and generate more revenue, include personal branding as an essential element of your professional services brand strategy.
Based on that introduction to personal branding, here are the key steps to developing and implementing your own professional services brand strategy.
Step I: Identify Your Ideal Clients
The ultimate goal of a professional services brand strategy is to allow service providers to continuously attract, serve and satisfy clients.
Given the importance of clients in achieving this goal, it’s crucial to clarify who these clients are.
Over time, most of us generate a mixed bag of clients. Some are good, even ideal.
Good clients are those people you love to serve.
They keep coming back for more services, willingly pay your fees, and also refer friends and acquaintances to you.
And if that’s not enough, serving good clients helps you feel good about yourself and your work.
Few things are better than good clients with whom you enjoy mutually beneficial relationships.
Regardless of the service that we provide, we all face a bewildering range of choices in running our businesses. Among the most critical of these choices is what services to provide and what kinds of clients we want to serve.
Based on the services you have chosen to provide, who are the ideal clients for these services?
Since it’s your choice as to which kinds of clients that you want to serve, why not choose to serve good clients?
In fact, why not take this choice one step further and choose to serve ideal clients?
Think of ideal clients as good clients with friend benefits.
Ideal client relationships also include the joy of interacting with like-minded people who share common values and interests.
Without a doubt, ideal clients are important to the ultimate success of our businesses.
When serving ideal clients, you will you love what you are doing … and also get better at doing it.
Life is too short to settle for anything less than the best.
Who are your ideal clients?
Think of those people you loved to serve and who were also very satisfied with your service. Maybe they returned for more help, referred new business to you or maybe sang your praises in a testimonial.
As you grow and develop your business, you can continue to refine the criteria for ideal clients.
Once you know the kinds of clients you want to serve, the next challenge is to find them.
That’s where the magic of your professional services branding strategy comes into play.
A good branding strategy will help you stop chasing leads and start attracting more ideal clients.
The Core Of Your Marketing
Your personal brand distinguishes you from all others.
It helps you attract potentially ideal clients.
Service-providers often give up their distinctiveness by trying present themselves in a manner that they think is expected of them.
Invariably, this leads to copying the business and marketing practices of others.
As a result, they lose their distinctiveness.
Without distinctiveness, all providers of the same service seem pretty much the same to potential clients and referral sources.
All lawyers seem much the same, all accountants seem much the same and so forth.
Given that everyone in the same business seems much the same, it would follow that their services would also be much the same, right?
As a provider of services, you know that’s not correct.
You know that no one serves and satisfies clients the way you do.
You also know how you help clients and how they benefit from your help. But do potential clients and referral sources know these things?
Personal branding will help tell the market who you are and how you help clients.
It is also a key element of your professional services business development.
Strategically, your brand strategy also a key component of the marketing framework, which provides the structure for all marketing communications.
In effect, your brand strategy enables you to leverage your strengths for better results.
Step II: Identify What Makes You Unique
What makes us unique as individuals is the combination of physical, emotional, and intellectual attributes that contributes to how we think and act.
In a service business, many factors contribute to our distinctiveness.
Your paper and electronic wardrobe … everything from business cards to our online presence have an impact on our personal branding.
Your website, blog/social media posts activities and content also influence how others see you.
A sound professional services brand strategy ensures that each and every aspect of your marketing reflects your distinctiveness.
In effect, your personality represents your values in action.
It’s how you behave and interact with other people.
Because actions speak louder than words, your behavior sends a powerful message about who you are as a person and also as a professional.
These are personal and professional skills that enable you to interact with other people and serve clients.
This distinguishes you from everyone else…including others who provide services similar to yours.
It’s the contribution of your personal attributes that contribute to how you interact with clients, contacts and your colleagues.
Defining your uniqueness involves addressing questions such as:
• What can you do for clients that is better than anyone else?
• What is distinct about your business and your brand?
• What value do you deliver to clients?
• How is it better than what the competition offers?
• What benefits will your clients receive from buying and using your brand?
This combination is the foundation for your professional services brand strategy.
What Does Your Brand Promise?
A brand promise is the cornerstone of generating more new business.
Properly developed and managed, the promise can generate new business and referrals from past clients.
However, poor brand development and weak business management will lead to broken promises, which drive potential clients to the competition.
By consistently providing quality service (key component of the marketing framework) in effect you promise that clients will continue to receive the same quality.
This promise of quality is reassuring to your clients and contacts.
Step III: Develop Your Brand Positioning Statement
This statement is based on a combination of your understanding of your niche market and your core service concept.
In effect, your brand positioning statement identifies:
- your market niche
- your core service concept
- how you and your service are different from the competitors
Preparing your brand positioning statement can take the form of a fill-in-the-blanks exercise:
To (niche market) _________________________
who (characteristics) _________________________
this brand is (what it does) ________________________
that (different from) ________________________
By way of example, here is what the brand positioning statement for my laser coaching service (now discontinued) might look like:
To service professionals (niche market) who want new business but lack the know-how and time (characteristics), I deliver experience-based coaching that helps them [service professionals] remove the whatever is blocking the flow of new business (what my brand does) in small manageable chunks of time, using existing their resources as effectively and efficiently as possible. (different from competitors).
To service professionals: This element identifies my target market…people who get paid for providing either or both personal and professional services.
(For my purposes, a service professional is anyone who gets paid for providing personal or professional services.)
Laser Coaching is not intended for home-owners, investors, job seekers or anyone else who is not a self-employed service provider.
This definition of my target segment contributes to the polarizing aspect of my service business.
Ideally, it attracts potentially ideal clients while allowing non-ideal clients to self-screen themselves away from the service.
… who want new business but lack the know-how and time …
Most of service professionals want new business, but few of us have either or both of the know-how and time.
If a marketing-savvy consultant is looking for help in improving her coaching skills, I am not the best coach for her.
Similarly, if a consultant who absolutely loves marketing (yes there really are such people) wants to enhance his digital marketing know-how and expertise, I probably can’t help him.
… experience-based coaching that helps them [service professionals] remove the whatever is blocking the flow of new business
Instead of hypothetical ideas and abstract unproven concepts, my coaching offers practical, experience-based guidance to start or resume the flow of new business.
… in small manageable chunks of time, using existing their resources as effectively and efficiently as possible.
Professionals are busy people. Few have either the time or the desire to engage in long, drawn out learning processes.
In response to this reality, coaching sessions are short, clear and concise.
Although this statement does need refinement, it does illustrate the process of preparing a brand positioning statement.
How To Apply Your Brand Positioning Statement
Your brand positioning statement is more than just another form of elevator speech.
Think of it as an explanation you that you would give when a friend whom you haven’t seen in many years asks what you do.
Or perhaps it could be your answer to the question from a well-connected and helpful friend who asks: “What kinds of clients do you serve and how do you help them?”
Instead of mindlessly reciting your statement as a memorized mantra or sales pitch, answer the questions conversationally.
In the place of industry jargon and buzz words, explain your statement in language that a reasonably intelligent person can easily understand.
Your statement can also serve as an alignment test for all of your marketing messaging.
The closer an individual message aligns with your statement, the more effective the message will be.
On the other hand, messages that are misaligned with a brand positioning statement are little more wasted communication opportunities.
1. Start Planning Early
Start thinking about what you want your reputation to be and how you want it to impact your business.
Without planning, you could end up figuratively setting yourself into a mold that is hard to break later.
2. Steer Clear of Self Promotion
In essence, personal branding is more like building a solid reputation.
And shameless self-promotion is counterproductive to that.
Why is that?
Because such authenticity makes someone more down-to-earth and relatable.
You can picture that person as your friend. That, paired with their expertise, makes you take notice when they give advice.
To learn more about authenticity in marketing, see STOP Sabotaging Your Marketing.
4. Deliver Consistent Value
You need to deliver content and advice that will help your audience to succeed.
It could be providing solutions to a common problem or insights into avoiding industry pitfalls.
If you want to build a personal brand that makes a difference, then you can’t disappear for long periods and then re-appear randomly with new content.
You need to be dedicated to a regular schedule.
Your One Thing
One final comment on this guide.
Certainly these four steps can help you get more clients.
However, they will deliver little or no value unless and until you take action on them.
Now that you have reached the end of the guide, here is one thing that you can do to benefit from it: STOP Being Ignored! Stand Out From The Crowd