SUBSCRIBERSS Feed or
In This Blog:
- Professional Services
- Growth Strategies
- Free Resources and Tools
- Professional Services
Professional Services Marketing Blog
Partnership marketing has long been a core strategy for professional services firms seeking efficient ways to both grow and increase their profitability. For startups that may be on the cusp of a hot service innovation but lack market visibility and credibility, partnerships with established firms can provide much needed early recognition. Even for large firms with established brands, partnerships can be beneficial in building visibility around a new direction for the firm, for example.
And by partnership marketing, I’m not talking about simply sponsoring events. While sponsorships can certainly get you in front of the right crowd and may even generate a few leads here and there, they are more costly and less effective than partnership marketing that is more project oriented.
For example, you might consider conducting a research project with your partner or starting a special educational program. An innovative, high-profile project is more distinctive than your logo on a crowded sponsorship banner — and is a far more compelling when it comes to explaining to people why they should be doing business with you. Large, well-known businesses, trade associations or universities are all good partnering candidates.
At Hinge, we either do this ourselves with our own partners or walk our clients down the path of strategic partnership marketing. Here’s a list of the top most effective strategies that have actual results.
- Write the definitive book on your signature topic.
This requires that you and your partner know your stuff. We always recommend that a book written in this spirit should be written for clients, not fellow professional practitioners. Probably the most time consuming of the top tactics, if you can manage to make a complicated topic easy to understand and appreciate, you and your partner will be seen as leaders by the people who matter most.
At Hinge we have been studying Visible Experts℠, people who have attained high visibility and expertise in their industry, creating a personal brand that is recognizable industry-wide. We study them because we want to understand how they attained that status and what we can learn from them. This profile focuses on Andrew J. Sherman, a Visible Expert for legal services.
Invest in Your Career Path
Andrew J. Sherman has done it all. With a background that spans starting a business, going to law school, attaining rock star status in the field of corporate law, writing 26 books, getting hired on as partner at the global law firm Jones Day, and holding professorships at Georgetown Law School and the Smith School of Business at University of Maryland, many people might consider Andrew’s career history to be quite varied. But Andrew doesn’t see it that way.
“All of these activities were key steps on a long-term path,” he says. “I wanted to help people, to help entrepreneurs realize their dreams. Becoming a business attorney was a good way to do that. And early on I understood that helping solo entrepreneurs was the same skillset as helping multinational corporations. Small business training applies to big corporations—they have the same needs and can use the same strategies.”
For Andrew, writing, speaking, teaching, and helping clients in his law practice are all parts of a unified career strategy that balances, at its heart, the desire to help people with a desire to succeed. According to Andrew, “Everything I do is an integrated attempt to maintain reputation as a thought leader and because it adds value to my clients.” His ability to participate in such a wide and diverse range of professional activities was key to helping Andrew become widely known, greatly expanding his sphere of influence and his reputation and launching him into Visible Expert status.
In our recent webinar, "Inside the Buyer’s Brain: How to Turn Insights into Action," we dove deep into the issue of misalignments between buyers and sellers of professional services. The recently released book, Inside the Buyer’s Brain, looks at the same topic in greater depth and is available for a free download.
Here are 3 main insights discussed in the webinar:
1. Relevance Gap
Many firms present their value proposition and differentiators as a foregone conclusion – without asking their own clients or prospects what is most important to them. Understanding the key issues and priorities of target audiences goes a long way in helping firms talk about their services in a way that is relevant to their buyers. For example, “We have great people.” While this may be true, it doesn’t address how the firm can help its clients solve their challenges. Thus, the relevancy to key issues and priorities is not answered for the client.
How can a firm close the relevancy gap?
- Specialize in particular industries
- Change services or bundle them by issue
Talk about services differently
By Mia Rommel
If you could physically package a complex and innovative technology solution, you would put it in a sleek and sophisticated box, wrapped with cutting edge ribbon and stamped with a well-written, concise label, right? It’s common sense to represent what you are selling through packaging. Think about it - Apple would never have made a come back with a boring box, a logo from MS Paint, or out dated advertising for their iPods.
Surprisingly, this happens more often than not. In fact, here in the Washington, DC area, poor packaging is rampant. If you’re a government contracting company, you already know the value of your services. You provide the solutions, technology, experts, and strategies that run some of the most complex and important programs in the US Government. So, when you’re pitching your services, why are you treating your product like a relic from the 90s? As a former proposal manager, I’ve seen it first hand.
Most government contracting companies spend hundreds of hours (and dollars) on their proposals, but put their graphics – each worth a thousand words – in the lowest priority. As a result, many proposals speak beautifully, but display out of date.
Proposal evaluators aren’t looking for a reason to hire you – they’re looking for a reason to disqualify for your proposal. As people are visual creatures, it’s time to focus on not what you say, nor how you say it, but how you show it.
Is it time to rebrand your professional services firm?
These days a lot of firms are coming to the conclusion that it is. But rebranding a professional services firm can be a costly and time consuming undertaking. And worse still, if not done properly it can leave you no better off than when you started.
So it is a big decision. In this post we want to give you a good understanding of why you might want to take the leap and what you stand to gain in various scenarios. But let’s start by clearing up any confusion about what rebranding is or is not.
Rebranding refers to the process of developing and rolling out a new or modified brand for a professional services firm. It is more than simply refreshing a logo or updating your website. It reflects a new position in the marketplace to gain a competitive advantage.
It typically involves three stages. The first is getting the strategy right. Strategy should be based on research on your target clients. The second stage is building out all the tools to communicate your new brand. These tools range from logo and tagline to website and marketing collateral. The third phase is rolling out the new brand.
At Hinge we have been studying Visible Experts℠, people who have attained high visibility and expertise in their industry, creating a personal brand that is recognizable industry-wide. We study them because we want to understand how they attained that status and what we can learn from them. This profile focuses on Lori Randall Stradtman, a Visible Expert for social media strategy.
Lori Randall Stradtman didn’t set out to become a Visible Expert. When this newly divorced mom returned to college in 2005 for a second degree in communications, she was thinking only of starting a career that could support her three kids. Fast forward eight years, and today Lori is an author, a public speaker, and a highly sought social media strategist with her own successful company. How did she get there? We caught up with Lori to find out.