The Consultant’s Brand
Seth Godin defines a brand as “a set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.”
In consulting practices the brand is, to a large extent, the personality, knowledge and wisdom of the consultant. That is why, when marketing their services, consultants spend most of their time networking and get most of their clients from referrals. People buy largely on brand because in the absence of a tangible product they perceive what the consultant offers as an intangible commodity product – the only difference is the brand experience.
The question is: how different is the experience of your brand from that of your competition? Consultants, to a large extend, share a common vocabulary, so the difference is not always that obvious to the prospect. You need to take specific actions to shape and enhance how people perceive your personal brand so that you are seen as the best and logical choice as well as a necessary one. Improving your brand perception will offer the following results:
• increase the effectiveness of your networking efforts
• encourage more referrals
• boost the impact of your presentations
• make your blogging, social media and other online efforts produce better results
"Branding isn’t as simple as telling people you’re the best. It is about making people believe you are the best because of what they've experienced."
Since 83% of human learning occurs visually branding is also about how you present that information – the way you look, talk, listen and your body language. And most importantly in today’s media driven society, the wow factor of the visual aids used to empower the message – your presentation material, website, marketing material and the content of your social media presence.
Probably the most crucial step in the branding process is positioning your brand. You need to define your uniqueness in the marketplace – a specific approach, process, method, target audience or product. The brand position should ideally be something different from what everyone else is offering. And you need to express this in a single statement that leaves the prospect and client in no doubt about the value you represent.
The next step is to make sure that everything you do, say and present is aligned with your brand position. Everything must be directed and delivered by the brand’s benefit statement and reason to buy. Your brand messages and value proposition must speak with one voice to ensure there is no confusion and your prospects and clients truly ‘get’ what you offer.
With your brand position worked out and the brand messages aligned with your value proposition you need to package everything in a way that will attract attention, engage prospects and clients, build interest and motivate them to take action. A big part of this is based on your personality and presentation skills but you can enhance and extend what you bring to the table through visual communication. Remember, your brand should continue to do your sales and marketing in your absence.
Immediately differentiating the perception of your value proposition “Oh, this is different”
Heightening and sustaining attention on your message
"I was gripped from start to finish”
Making networking and online presentations more engaging and memorable
“This has actually been a fun experience”
Getting your message across more efficiently and effectively resulting in more client actions
“I now truly ‘get’ why I need this”
Encouraging prospects to explore further and effectively nurture themselves into sales
“Is there more of this on your website?”
Using the same material to generate these effects for your online marketing and social media activities
“You’ve got to watch that video – not just talking heads
and boring text - it’s amazing”
It’s not rocket science
When you present at a network event do people think: “Hmm, just another consultant – I’ve heard it all before”? When they search online for a consultant do they look at your website and think: “They all look the same and say the same thing”?
What would the result be if the reaction was: “Wow, this something different – fresh, fun, engaging, and I can see how this will transform my business”? A significant part of people’s buying decision is based on the feel-good factor, on gut feel and emotion, and visual communication plays a significant part in switching on those light bulbs.
Visual presentation is a booster rocket to your personality and together forms your brand. The better the booster rocket the higher you will fly.