What’s your professional services brand strategy?
Perhaps a better question is what’s a brand strategy?
According to Susan Gunelius MBA, a Marketing and Branding Expert with 25 years’ worth of experience behind her,
“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:
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.
Your Brand Strategy Goals
As self-employed service providers, our businesses reflect who we are as people—what we stand for and are all about.
Ideally, our professional or business selves are aligned and interconnected with our true authentic selves.
This being the case, Canfield’s comment about a high level of success in life is equally applicable to achieving a high level of success in business, and by extension, you brand strategy.
Long story short: the only way to succeed in your professional services brand strategy is to set goals and do whatever it takes to achieve them.
Setting SMART Goals
Setting SMART goals helps clarify your ideas and focus your efforts.
This approach also makes the most productive use of your time and resources productively,
Increasing the likelihood of achieving your goals.
A “S.M.A.R.T.” goal is one that is:
So clear that potential clients understand what you mean.
Example: “coach” is not a specific goal.
Specific: “life coach” is extremely specific.
Goals are measurable when you know when you have achieved them.
Example: “write blogs” isn’t measurable because it doesn’t identify how many blogs you will write over what period.
Measurable: “post 3 blogs per week over the next 3 months” identifies how many blogs and when.
It’s better to set realistic goals that can be achieved to set impossible goals. that go unfulfilled.
Achieving goals and crossing them off a list can be huge motivator. Leverage that power by setting goals you can actually achieve.
Choose brand strategy goals that will lead to achieving your business and personal goals.
For example, it would be best for a life coach who has a goal of writing a book about stress management to avoid prioritizing personal interest goals such as home renovation.
(Also known as: time-based, time limited, time/cost limited, timely, time-sensitive.)
Example: Someday I will write a book to enhance my personal brand.
None of the seven days in the week are named someday: someday never comes.
If you want to write a book, set specific dates for completion dates for each step.
Then do whatever is necessary to achieve each goal.
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.
Now it’s your turn: 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.
What Clients Look For When Choosing A Service Professional
To attract potentially ideal clients, it is not enough to simply define your target market and know everything there is to know about it.
It’s also necessary to possess those qualities that potentially ideal clients look for when choosing service providers.
If asked, clients seldom say that they chose individual service providers because of identifiable features of a specific professional or personal service.
Clients are more likely to say that they made their choice on the basis of individuals’ specific personal characteristics.
Personal Attributes That Help Attract Clients
This category includes:
- attention to details
- concentration on client’s goals
- hard work
This is the accumulated know-how from experience, training and continuing education that makes you good at what you do.
More often than not, clients’ circumstances and market conditions continue to change and evolve.
Clients want service service-providers who can respond effectively to newly changed circumstances, not remain focused on the way things used to be.
A good listener understands and accepts what clients say.
What better way to help clients feel that they are cared for and worthy of being heard than by listening to them?
The most successful service providers work very hard–and smart–at satisfying their clients.
Both the nature and amount of help that clients need varies from client to client and case to case. This means that before delivering any help clarify what and how much help the client needs and wants.
Your clients will value you and your service more when you can refer them to others who provide services that complement or supplement yours.
Being patient means allowing sufficient time for appropriate actions and the best decisions possible.
To develop this knowledge, it’s necessary to continue to research and monitor what’s happening in your field.
The required level of current industry knowledge is subjective. Ideally falls somewhere between your clients’ current level of knowledge to the same or better level than your competitors.
Essential Elements of Your Professional Services Brand Strategy
Your personal brand is the core of your strategy.
Your personal brand also 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.
What’s In A Professional Services Brand Strategy?
What makes us unique as individuals the combination of physical, emotional, and intellectual attributes that contributes to how we think and act.
In a service business, many factors contribute to your distinctiveness. Your paper wardrobe … everything from business cards to correspondence, thank you cards and advertising pieces have an impact on your 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?
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. It increases their comfort in continuing to deal with you and also recommend potentially ideal clients to you.
Learn more about personal branding, see:
- What You Need To Know About Branding Business and Professional Services
- How Personal Branding Service Businesses Distinguishes Professionals
- Personal Brand vs Business Brand?
- Stand Out From The Crowd With Personal Branding For Service Professionals
- The 6 Best Tools for Personal Branding Professional Services
To develop or update your personal brand, see: