Most people today believe that branding has to do with only people in the products domain, well that’s not true as many of the same basic marketing principles apply: brand drives perception, preference, top-of-mind awareness, higher fees, and so on. So why can’t service firms reap the same benefits?, they can if the branding is done properly.
Before we proceed i would like to bring to our awareness the four major distinctions between product and services when branding including the elements of a good brand message.
- Avoid mass marketing:
Product companies sell to the masses through large scale advertising efforts. Following in the footsteps of these companies, many service firms, when attempting to build their brand, start advertising to the masses as if they were selling apple drinks. But for a service brand, this is a waste. It’s not targeted enough, and it costs too much, given the return that it provides.
Do your audience research and gather enough information about your customers as this will not only save you money, but also save you time and help you make informed decisions.
- Focus on your relevance: Taking your services or serving your ads to people who crave or hunger for your services will go a long way in improving not only your revenue but also the value of your services as the people you are serving understand the value and even see more value in your services.
- Communicate your message: Every brand needs a voice. Messaging provides the words that help customers and prospects understand a firm’s value (why it’s useful) and values (what it believes in). It articulates the brand’s promise and stimulates desire for a firm’s services. Brand messages tell a story that gets people excited about your services and rallies them behind your flag. In the war for customers’ hearts, messaging leads the charge.
- Insights: As a first step to creating your service brand, take some time to better understand your company, customers and competitors. You may want to start with an actionable SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats).
Think about current or potential customers and ask yourselves questions like these:
- Why does the customer need or want our company?
- Who are our most profitable customers? What do they have in common?
- What customer needs or wants are not being met currently?
Brand message checklist.
- Does your core brand message offer anything different from your competitors?
- Are your messages simple, easy to understand and compelling?
- Do your messages reflect reality? Brand messages must be based in reality to be believed. A little aspiration is okay, so long as you are moving in that direction and the claim is plausible.
- Do your messages resonate with your target audience? Do they say anything interesting?.
How to go about services branding.
Develop your content marketing strategy.
We could have called this step “develop your marketing strategy.” But we didn’t. Instead we call for a content marketing strategy.
Why? Content marketing is particularly well suited to professional services firms in the Internet age. It does all things traditional marketing does but it does them more efficiently. It uses valuable educational content to attract, nurture and qualify prospects.
Develop your website.
Your website is your single most important brand development tool. It is the place where all your audiences turn to learn what you do, how you do it and who your clients are. Prospective clients are not likely to choose your firm solely based on your website. But they may well rule you out if your site sends the wrong message.
You are now ready to determine your firm’s brand positioning within the professional services marketplace (also called market positioning). How is your firm different from others and why should potential clients within your target audience choose to work with you?.
Build your marketing toolkit.
Increasingly this marketing toolkit also includes videos. Popular video topics include firm overviews, case studies or “meet the partner” videos. Key services offerings are also very useful. If prepared appropriately, these tools serve not only a business development function but also are important for brand development.
Tracking and adjusting.
Tracking both the implementation of the plan as well as results. Did the strategy get implemented as planned?, What happened with the objective measures, such as search traffic and web visitors?, How many new leads, employee applications and partnering opportunities were generated?,.
Only by tracking the entire process can you make sure you are drawing the right conclusions and making the right adjustments.