Marketing Professional Services, Part 1: Give Your People a Soapbox

Marketing professional services requires that you effectively market the brands of both the company and the skilled individuals that comprise it. Too often, I see service companies promoting themselves only as organizations and not as organizations AND a collection of highly talented individuals. Focusing on the personal brands of just the top executives is not enough either. Unless your customers primarily deal with your C-team, the impact of the expertise of your mid and lower level employees will matter more to your customers and prospects than a video of your CEO’s presentation at Davos. How can your company spotlight the talents of employees at all levels?

Give your people a soapbox:

soapbox for marketing professional services

No, not that kind of soapbox.

  1. Encourage all of your employees to maintain a robust professional social presence with a complete LinkedIn profile that includes periodic updates on industry news; a strong Twitter presence; and — most importantly — regular contributions to organization or industry blogs.
  2. Promote all of your service provider’s relevant writing and events on the organizational social presence.
  3. Consider helping everyone build followers and helping to promote their more strategic writings via highly targeted Promoted Tweets, LinkedIn promoted posts, or other promotional areas.
  4. Encourage your employees to write guest blog posts and publish interviews with other influencers in the industry (who, in turn, will promote these articles and interviews on their own social channels).
  5. Organize opportunities for employees to speak or provide hands-on mini training sessions at industry events and conferences.

Does this seem controversial?

I’m always surprised by customers’ and prospects’ reactions to these types of suggestions. I often hear something along the lines of “Yes, but…” Here are two of my favorites:

Yes, but… if I make “Joan” too high profile, she’ll just use it to get another job offer, ask for a raise, or get poached by a competitor.

This is a classic. It’s akin to the idea that sending your people to training or conferences to upgrade their job skills will just improve their marketability on the job market — and, worse, they’ll meet potential employers. This is only a valid objection if:

a) you’re perfectly satisfied with your current talent, or

b) you pay and/or treat your people so badly that the only thing holding them back from getting a new job tomorrow is that they have no marketable skills or contacts.

Invest in your people. In the end, your company is only as good as the people in it. As a manager, if you truly don’t believe that, you need to get a new job.

Yes, but… “Ted” is shy. He’s a star performer, but he’s not comfortable putting himself out there as a marketing resource.

Again, you need to invest in your people to help them overcome this limitation in their job effectiveness — and I do view this as a limitation of their job effectiveness. You can’t effectively brand your offering without the help and assistance of your star performers. In fact, that is a great way to think about it. Do you think it would be okay for Brad Pitt to cash a $20M check for a new movie without doing interviews and talking it up on the talk shows? No. It’s a job requirement for being a movie star. Similarly, in my opinion, it’s a job requirement for being a trainer or consultant to maintain a strong professional profile.

You can help them overcome their concerns by doing two things:

  1. Explaining to them why this is important for business development.
  2. Creating an easy to understand list of minimal requirements. For example: tweeting X times a day; blogging X times a week; engaging with thought leaders X times a month. This will get them started. Monitor and coach them along the way, and you may just inspire them to go above and beyond.

At the end of the day, this kind of promotion can’t be optional. It needs to be incorporated into employees’ job descriptions. They say that showing up is half the job. For professional services, the other half is getting customers.

In Part II of Marketing Professional Services, I’ll discuss in more detail how you can enable, encourage, and organize your people’s efforts to make a maximum marketing impact. In Part III of the series, I’ll tackle the issue of integrating personal and organizational branding efforts.

Rich Quarles
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