We all want more business for our firms. Often, attracting more business involves a discussion of increasing brand visibility. So, let’s explore how to do that the right way.
You might also want to check out our Brand Building Guide for a more in-depth roadmap to improving your firm’s reputation and increase your visibility among your target audiences.
Start With Your Brand
A professional services brand is the combination of your firm’s reputation and visibility. By that measure, brand visibility is very critical.
Our recent research on professional services buyers shows that most firms’ brand visibility is weaker than their reputation.
Professional services firms tend to have very good reputations. About 57% of buyers in our research rated their sellers as having a very strong reputation while only about 23% of those buyers felt that sellers had very good visibility.
And we found that this was true across industries as well. Brand visibility was consistently rated lower than reputation. This is a problem worth solving.
But this also creates a challenge. If you simply increase visibility without attending to reputation, you will end up with a hollow brand. Folks who recognize you may not know much about what you do or who you serve.
For that reason, you should focus on strategies that increase both brand visibility and reputation. Here are five of our favorite ways to do this.
1. Articles vs. Ads.
We all face the dilemma of deciding where to spend our marketing dollars. If you are currently spending a significant amount of money on advertising — which, according to our research, is usually an inefficient use of your budget — try investing instead in promoting your thought leadership materials to clients or business partners. In this way, you build brand visibility and reputation at the same time.
2. Create High-Profile Content.
High-profile content is content that people feel compelled to share with others and discuss. Examples include research that covers a topic of interest to your target clients, a new book that takes on a noteworthy topic, or an article in a major publication, such as the Harvard Business Review.
Once you have some high-profile content, you must devote a sufficient amount of your marketing budget to making it widely visible in your target market. Once again, this will have the dual impact of elevating your firm’s reputation and increasing your brand’s visibility.
3. Make Your Firm Easy to Find Online.
This may not strike you as intuitive at first. We tend to think of brand visibility as advertising or PR, something that happens “out there.” But in reality, one of the best ways to increase your firm’s visibility is to help people find your firm when they are searching for educational content or services similar to those you provide.
Among other tactics, this is accomplished through search engine optimization (SEO). If the valuable content that you produce is available on your website and is properly optimized for search engines, you increase the likelihood that potential clients or referral sources will find you through online search. In short, you raise your effective brand visibility. And when people do find you, they can explore your website to get a full picture of your firm. (You do have acredible and up-to-date website, right?)
4. Develop High-Profile Partners.
You are known by the company you keep. Conducting a research project or educational event in conjunction with a very visible and credible partner can be a real win for both parties. High-profile partners improve your brand visibility in a couple of ways. First, because of the partner’s reach and resources, the relationship will expand the pool of people who hear of your firm. Second, you benefit from the reputation and credibility of your partner.
5. Rely on Social Media.
Let’s face it, most firms just dabble in social media. At this superficial level, it will do you little good. But there is an alternative. Invest in social media to enhance your brand visibility.
It will require that you have multiple people in your firm who are both willing and able to engage people (prospective clients, influencers and referral sources) online over time. Find out where your prospects are hanging out online and engage them there. As the pool of people who know you from your online presence expands, so too will your brand visibility.
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