The Basics of Online Brand Management

Brand management for B2B firms is more important than ever before due to digitization and social media proliferation and the subsequent need for consistent and relevant marketing messages.

What’s in a Brand?

Your brand defines who you are and what you do, while also setting you apart from others like you. It emphasizes the unique value that your professional service or B2B business offers your clients. It’s the reason they choose to work with you and not another company. Your brand is communicated through everything your company does, from its design motifs and logo to the services and promotions it offers.

Online Brand Management

It takes a great deal of effort to maintain an online presence but the branding benefits are well worth it. You need to know what’s going on with your brand and use the internet to leverage the exposure it offers.

Branding is the process of building your brand, while brand management is the process of monitoring and maintaining it. Brand management helps those in the B2B industry to build a good corporate image and position in the market. Without proper brand management not only will your brand lose its value but you will lose clients to popular competitors.

Search engine optimization is important for online branding. You need to make sure that your website and social media profiles come up in searches related to your service. When people encounter your brand, whether in print or in person, they’re going to head straight to Google and see what else they can find out about you. Put a proactive SEO strategy into place and make sure you’re ranking for relevant keywords.

Email is Still Number One

Although there are now many ways to communicate online, email is still the main mode of communication for professional service firms. It’s good to build an email list and market directly to your list members’ inboxes. This is a good way to enhance your branding and the personal nature of email makes it excellent for creating an emotional bond.

The World of Social Media

We touched social media earlier, but don’t forget that social media is much more than just Facebook and Twitter. It includes video sharing sites like YouTube, blogs, industry-specific social networking sites, online forums and more.

It’s especially important to leverage the power of review sites like LinkedIn groups and professional directories?. Join as many of these groups as possible and manage them well. Encourage your clients to leave good reviews and watch for bad reviews so that you can respond to them in a timely manner.

Content Marketing

Content marketing is a critical component of brand building. Content marketing is a strategy in which you regularly publish articles, blog posts, videos or other content that helps your target market. It’s a great way to gain exposure and communicate your brand message. Remember that content should be timely, relevant, and valuable to your audience.

Online Reputation Brand Management

It’s possible that someone is going to say something bad about your company online and it’s inevitable that many others will see it. This is why you need reputation management protocols in place. When a complaint or negative comment is posted about your brand, you need to swing into action and handle it with the best approach possible.

A proactive method of protecting your reputation online is to encourage good reviews and positive comments. When you have a great number of good reviews on a site like platforms like Facebook, or Google, a few bad ones aren’t so damaging.

Whenever responding to negative comments, remember to stay “on-brand.” Never get angry. Your handling of the situation should give others who see the interaction with the right brand message. How you respond to these situations is as much a part of your brand marketing as any other activities you engage in.

Get Reviewed

Reviews are essential in the B2B industry. Any professional service or technology firm needs social proof in order to gain new clients. Form relationships with reviewers and review websites and encourage your clients to leave reviews. As briefly mentioned already, word of mouth is the best possible branding you could hope for.

Learn more about brand marketing strategies and feel free to share this post if you find it helpful.

Does Advertising Work for Professional Service Firms?

Over the past several years, the advertising industry has undergone a series of paradigm shifts. The era when radio, television, and print were the perfect trifecta is no more. Digital advertising is now the disruptor with billions of dollars invested in digital advertising worldwide.   That’s why you need to bring it to your business.

Why you need to consider advertising: 

There’s an old saying, “you need to spend money to make money”. 

Whatever type of business you are in and regardless of how big or small your firm is, you need to advertise. Relying solely on reputation, in-person events and word of the mouth referrals will only help you to maintain and bring in very few clients. It’s also not a scalable strategy as you grow.

Advertising via different channels (e.g. social media, content marketing, email) to promote your services greatly increases the pool size of potential clients, and in turn, boosts sales and better positions your business.

Without advertising, the chances of prospective clients knowing about your firm and services are greatly reduced.

Then why do professional service firms doubt the effectiveness of advertising?

First of all, most professional service firms are small to mid-size and have a smaller advertising budget. This means creating brand awareness of the firm will be challenging. In addition, when you are selling a service you are largely selling a relationship and this is very difficult to convey in an ad, no matter what the format.

With online advertising, you have the options of search or display ads and social media ads. With click rates for display Ad campaigns averaging only 0.35% and 1.91% for search Ads, it’s easy for many professional service firms to quickly dismiss paid advertising.

As a result, the need for effective advertising is undeniable, versus less strategic approaches which tend to be hit or miss.

The effectiveness of your advertising campaign depends on:

  • Your objectives – is the ad meant to generate website traffic or sales
  • The aspects that are specific to your business like your target audience and advertising budget
  • The type and medium of advertising you choose
  • Past experience — what has worked in your business before?
  • Your competitors

Advertising channels that are impactful for professional service firms:

Paid search ads 

Pay-per-click advertising (PPC) is a form of advertising where professional service firms can pay to drive traffic to a website and subsequently generate leads, but if executed incorrectly, you run the risk of getting undesired results.

PPC is one of the most effective means professional service firms can use to promote a landing page, promote a thought leadership piece, tool, checklist, etc. and then follow up with an email drip campaign to build brand trust with current and future clients.

One of the advantages of using Pay-per-click ads is that by spending $X in PPC ads you can get $Y in sales each month. Also, you can incorporate PPC costs into your pricing and be perfectly comfortable spending X percent of your revenue on advertising.

However, due to high competition for certain keywords, you need heavy financial investment and a planned, sustained strategy around campaigns to really get noticed.

The downside to PPC ads is that they may not work for every professional service firm. For example, if you are a niche B2B consulting business that typically has a complex and long sales cycle, your potential clients are probably not looking for a solution on Google, Yahoo or Bing. Rather than buy immediately based on a click, they have to get comfortable with you before hiring your services. In such a case, your money could be better spent on other forms of advertising like social media advertising, or sponsored content.

Social media Ads

Social media ads are less expensive in comparison to PPC ads and tend to have a higher engagement and conversion rate. According to the global web index, 4 out of 10 internet users say they follow their favorite brands on social media. This is perfect for professional service firms.

In terms of usage, Facebook is still the dominant social media platform in the United States but LinkedIn is better because it is as good as the personal network you create at in-person events.

The smaller but focused user base on LinkedIn means there is less noise than on other social media networks. This makes it easier to get to your target audience. In contrast to Facebook, on LinkedIn, you can still generate lots of leads and business without spending a cent.

However, both platforms still remain important advertising channels for many professional service firms.

Due to stiff competition, your ads need to be very targeted and have a specific objective and call to action (CTA). Consider Re-targeting prior visitors based on the exact page(s) that they visited during their time on your website. Make your ads dynamic by creating tailor-made content and messaging for the exact visitors you want to target. For example, consider targeting people who went to your pricing page.

Another important factor to consider is how persuasive and creative your ad needs to be to attract the attention of prospective clients.

So, Does Advertising Work for Professional Service Firms? The simple answer is yes, but its success largely depends on your advertising objectives, budget, and message.

Good advertising will create interest, generate public enthusiasm, and grow your business. The more effective it is, the more clients it draws in and the greater the profit will be for your firm.

Let us know in the comments which advertising channels you use, and which ones work best for you. As always, if you found this information helpful, feel free to share this blog post on social media.