How your brand is perceived by prospects impacts buying decisions for every client base

Dave Fazekas, Director of Digital Marketing, Smart Business Network

Dave Fazekas, Vice President of Digital Marketing, Smart Business Network

When I meet with business-to-business and professional service clients to discuss their marketing strategies, one comment that consistently arises is “No one buys professional services through the Web.”

While that may be true — you don’t typically buy an accountant online as you would a product through e-commerce — how your brand is perceived most definitely will impact a prospect’s buying decision.

Decisions to work with professional service firms don’t happen overnight. They take time. And because of this, any B2B organization must ensure it is “seen” in the strongest possible light before the sale actually occurs.

In fact, it’s just as important to not lose prospective customers because your organization is perceived as weak or subpar as it is to convert a prospect into a client.

The simple truth is that you never know at any given time who is researching your brand and through what channel. Having a consistent brand message, whether they’re looking to engage you now or somewhere down the road, helps you to not lose them before they need your solutions.

To accomplish this, you must get your brand messaging across in a consistent manner across multiple channels.

So how do you that?

First, a solid marketing strategy must include a website that clearly articulates the brand message and value proposition of your services — and it has to be on the home page.

It also should include supporting content that allows a prospective customer to quickly understand who you are, what you do and why you’re different.

For example, let’s say you’re an accounting firm. Being able to articulate why you are the best at providing risk management solutions for clients can help you differentiate yourself in the marketplace.

Providing and highlighting content that explains your service, along with case studies and client examples that include measurable results, is a smart move. It allows prospects and site visitors to get a feel of what it would be like to work with you.

Additionally, your website should offer prospective clients an easy way to contact you — either through a phone number or a simple contact form that includes a name, email address, phone number and short explanation of the prospect’s business problem.

Beyond your website, other channels to consider include social media, which includes LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. In these social media channels, you need more than just simple company pages. Instead, you should offer visitors relevant and current content that consistently supports the brand message and your organization’s value proposition, along with company information and executive profiles. And it’s extremely important to continually be “active.”

Using the same accounting firm as an example, it could utilize consistent content around recent changes to government policies, updates on recent business wins or sharing a solution that helped one of its clients overcome a business challenge across all social media channels.

And when that information isn’t timely, something as simple as new hire announcements or employee promotions will show visitors and followers that there is activity within your brand — and your organization. It makes you “active,” which makes you more attractive to prospects.

Other channels to think about include mobile or tablet experiences, print marketing and event sponsorship. Every channel you can imagine should be used to express your organization’s brand message because there are always people watching.

So while your clients may not choose or buy their professional services online, they will evaluate your brand even prior to consideration. And while it’s impossible to measure what clients you may lose by not having this strategy in place, it is clear that a solid marketing strategy of this type can save you from losing consideration — even when you don’t know you’re being considered.

David Fazekas is vice president of digital marketing for Smart Business Network. Reach him at [email protected] or (440) 250-7056.

Home builder sentiment holds near seven-year highs

WASHINGTON, Wed Jan 16, 2013 — Homebuilder confidence in the market for single family homes held steady at near seven year highs in January, suggesting the outlook for the housing market remained upbeat.

The NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market index was at 47 this month, the highest level since April 2006. Economists polled by Reuters had expected the index to edge up to 48.

The National Association of Home Builders said prolonged negotiations over fiscal policy had caused some uncertainty among builders this month.

A reading below 50 means more builders view market conditions as poor than favorable. The index has not been above 50 since April 2006.

“Conditions in the housing market look much better now than at the beginning of 2012 and an increasing number of housing markets are showing signs of recovery, which should bode well for future home sales later this year,” said NAHB chairman Barry Rutenberg.

“Uncertainties stemming from last month’s fiscal cliff negotiations contributed to the pause in builder confidence and continuing discussions among policymakers related to spending cuts and the future of the mortgage interest deduction could put a damper on housing demand in the coming months.”

A measure of sales expectations in the next six months slipped a point to 49, while a gauge of current sales conditions was unchanged at 51. The prospective buyers index rose a point to 37.

2012 Pillar Awards: Great companies and great employees working for the greater good of Central Ohio

Rick Chiricosta, President and CEO, Medical Mutual

Medical Mutual, along with our co-founding Pillar Award partner SBN, proudly presents the annual Pillar Awards.

In the January 2013 issue, we honor 24 finalists representing a diverse group of companies and organizations of varying sizes. While they may be different in many ways, one thing that they all have in common is their commitment to strengthening the bond between the for-profit and nonprofit worlds.

This is an important conversation, and at this year’s event, we intend to explore it.

It occurred to us many years ago that few things are more meaningful and important than investing time and resources in supporting our community, and we felt the need to honor companies and their employees who have gone above and beyond the call. While support and direction come from management, companies are only as great as their employees.

For that reason, we are quite proud to present the Medical Mutual SHARE Award. This unique award was founded to recognize companies whose employees best exemplify the ideals of Medical Mutual’s own employee SHARE Committee. SHARE stands for serve, help, aid, reach and educate, and it is the heart and soul of Medical Mutual’s charitable giving effort.

The SHARE Committee, made up of Medical Mutual employee volunteers, helps coordinate more than two dozen community events involving nearly half of the company’s 2,500 employees.

On behalf of Medical Mutual and SBN, we hope you enjoy reading about these great companies and we offer congratulations to all of our Pillar Award recipients.

Rick Chiricosta
president and CEO
Medical Mutual
www.medmutual.com

 

The Central Ohio Class of 2013 Finalists

PILLAR AWARD

Atlas Butler Heating & Cooling
Cardinal Health
Columbus Crew
Delta Energy
Donatos Pizzeria LLC
Fahlgren Mortine
Fifth Third Bank
Mettler Toledo
RockBridge
Safelite
SafeX
CompManagement, Inc., a Sedgwick Company

REA & ASSOCIATES NONPROFIT EXECUTIVE DIRECTORS OF THE YEAR

Jay Jordan, Online Computer Library Center
Tom Slemmer, National Church Residences
Tammy Wharton, Girl Scouts of Ohio’s Heartland Council

KENT CLAPP CEO LEADERSHIP AWARD

Jane Grote Abell, Donatos Pizzeria LLC
Mark Swepston, Atlas Butler Heating & Cooling
Ira Sharfin, Continental Office Environments

NONPROFIT BOARD EXECUTIVES OF THE YEAR

Brooke Billmaier, St. Stephen’s Community House
Robert Click, LifeCare Alliance
Michael J. Fiorile, Columbus College of Art and Design
Laura Warren, Girl Scouts of Ohio’s Heartland Council
Robert J. “Skip” Weiler, Jr., Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Ohio
Brenda Stier-Anstine, Mt. Carmel Foundation

 

KENT CLAPP CEO LEADERSHIP AWARD and MEDICAL MUTUAL SHARE AWARD will be announced the night of the event