If we concur that in today's business climate, change is the only constant, then we can understand why, to some degree, branding & marketing need to become fluid practices. For product companies, this is not as amorphous as it sounds, because a product is something tangible and even as the world changes, these companies always have the product to anchor and focus their branding and marketing efforts.
But for consultants and, in general, Professional Services organizations, which don't have products, how do you incorporate change and a flexible approach in your own branding and marketing efforts, in order to stand apart?
We do a lot of work for and with consultants, management consultants, innovation consultants, marketing consulants, law firms and so forth. Here are six ways we help them and other Professional Services clients build their brands and market their services.
As a consultant, the quality of your website content needs to be extraordinary, concise, provocative and different. Matching that quality with an equal level of discipline in reviewing your website analytics, will inform you as to the real market value of your content to your intended audiences. Being fluid enough to make regular changes to your content in order to track better to your audience, while still maintaining the core of your brand, is the way consultants build long term trust and from that, a following.
Successful consultants know that success is not exclusively the realm of logical thinking and intellectual content. People are more aware of the emotional and persuasive power of visual design. More than ever, we are seeing websites using bold color, full bleed photography, infographics, large type and copious subheads. This approach allows your audience to find numerous opportunities to engage with your content without having to gird themselves for the long read.
I love taglines. They can be inspirational (Apple's "Think Different"), aspirational (Accenture's "High Performance. Delivered) or factual (salesforce.com's "No Software"). They can define, distill or infer the intent and culture of your organization. If we go back to the inherent challenges of being a consultant or professional services marketer— standing out, providing unique content and building change into your brand and marketing — a good tagline offers all of these things. And unlike a logo, it can have a shorter shelf life and easily evolve with your organization.
Telling a business story through pictures is a memorable and supremely confident way of presenting quantitative data. It also affords you the ability to wrap your brand and marketing messages around data and analysis.
Leaders and next generation leaders, even as they do the jobs for which they were hired, are building their online profiles via content marketing, SEO, social media, blogging and speaking. Consulting and Professional Services companies are looking within to identify who, within their organizations, can best use the new tools to advance their corporate brands. From a brand management perspective this creates a tension between promoting personal brands versus the corporate brand. Many companies are wrestling with this and need to find the right balance because the security of a consultant lies in the strength of their personal brand.
Let's face it, being a consultant is a popularity contest. What makes you a popular, sought after consultant or company is the degree to which you are followed, cited, invited, and threfore become less of a risk. All of these things happen through employing the other components of this list but remember --- if in your heart you're thinking more about your multi-channel strategy and less about providing real value and engaging in real and ongoing conversations, people will become cynical, grow tired of you, and your efforts will become tedious.
The recipe for branding and marketing success for consultants and Professional Services marketers is diligent content marketing, visually branded with a great tagline, validated with infographics and distributed through multiple social media channels on a consistent basis and utilizing analytics.
Am I missing anything?