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What’s a Social Media Brand Ambassador Program?

Your long-term clients know the ins and outs of your services, and they may serve as referral sources. But have you thought about how your dedicated clients can support your brand on social media?

Social media is a powerful tool that can help your firm generate quality leads, and it should be part of your business development strategy moving forward. One way to have social media support your firm’s branding process is to incorporate brand ambassadors to further your social reach. Ambassadors speak highly of your brand, services and events on their own social media channels. They can provide quick shout-outs to your firm or association, highlight upcoming events or timely services, and recommend your brand to their social media followers.

Here are three key elements to start building your own brand ambassador network to generate quality leads.

Who ‘Likes’ you?

On your social media channels, you may notice certain individuals who are consistently ‘liking’ or sharing your posts. This is one easy way to identify who is naturally falling into a brand ambassador role for your firm or association.

Check out your @mentions, post likes and comments to see who is already promoting your brand. You can also see who is using any of your company or industry-related #hashtags. If there is a particular client that you routinely recognize on your social media channels, chances are they would be a good candidate to become a brand ambassador.

Maybe you’ve noticed that people who ‘like’ you on social media and share your content are mostly employees of your company. Some of your employees should be brand ambassadors based on their public reputation or status. While you will have employees that you encourage to share information about your brand on social media, it’s also important to have a dedicated client serve as a social media brand ambassador to give a unique perspective to your services and products. Having a mix of perspectives allows you to speak to different audiences, which can help gain new referrals.

VIDEO: WHY YOUR NEW LEADERS SHOULD GET BRAND TRAINING

Remember, when your employees are active on social media, touch base with them to make sure their personal channels are professional representations of your brand with up-to-date competitive messaging. Review your social media policy with them

Criteria for Brand Ambassadors

You don’t want just anyone, even if they do engage with your content, to become your brand ambassador. Think about these key factors when determining who you want to represent your brand on social media.

  • Current Social Media Following Are their followers your target audience? If not, they are not a good brand ambassador for your firm. Also look at the size of their social media following, how their audience engages with their posts and if they naturally use a tone that you think fits your brand.
  • Dedicated Client or Referral Source Can they speak specifically to your service experience? Make sure an ambassador you select knows all the ins and outs. It’s much easier for you and your future ambassador to already be familiar with your brand instead of teaching or training them. This also makes their promotional efforts more authentic.
  • Networking Opportunities ­­– Make sure your brand ambassadors have networking opportunities on social media. Chat with your brand ambassadors about what social media networking groups they participate in and how your brand or service could be shared amongst those groups.

Guidelines to Move Forward

Since the brand ambassadors you’ve identified already understand your firm or association, you may not feel like you have to tailor specific messages for them. But being clear about how you can work with each other will help you avoid misrepresenting your messages or brand on social. Here are a few tips for professional service firms and associations to build long-term relationships with brand ambassadors.

  • Regularly discuss topics or upcoming events that you would like to see brand ambassadors promote. Here are a few examples of how your services or events could be shared on their personal social pages:

“If you missed ABC Construction’s webinar today on land surveying, you definitely want to watch the recording! I learned so much about the process and plan to share many take-aways with my own team. Here’s the link: [insert link to recording]”

“Planning for my individual and small business tax returns was made easy this year because of the counsel I received from 123 Accounting. Check them out for expert advice! [insert link to company homepage]”

  • Clearly identify how often you would like your brand ambassadors to be promoting your brand. Maybe set a standard of two posts a month.
  • Give back to your brand ambassadors! Offer a free service, conference registration or webinar to thank them for promoting your brand on their personal social media channels.
  • Create a ‘thank you’ post from the firm’s social media account to publicly recognize them. This is an easy way to boost brand loyalty for your firm and the individual promoting your work.

Social media is a powerful way for potential clients or members to learn about your brand and services. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to share what’s going new at your firm or association. Learn more about how you can with your target audience through social media.


 

Office background with smart phone in orange color.

How referral sources influence your branding process

Office background with smart phone in orange color.

What is one of your favorite brands, and how did you get hooked on the product or service? It’s likely that word-of-mouth was your referral. Think about it! We talk about products and brands with our coworkers, family and friends all the time. Our loyalty to certain brands or products supports business development.

Here’s an example of brand loyalty and how referrals impact the branding process.

You and your family have always purchased Chevrolet vehicles. You decide to look for a fresh perspective and seek advice from a coworker for your next vehicle purchase. Based on their advice and feedback, you purchase a new Ford SUV.

You end up loving the new amenities and low-maintenance fees the Ford SUV provides. Your brand loyalty has changed! You plan to inform your family members of how much you’re enjoying your Ford vehicle, knowing their brand loyalty could switch just like yours did.

This is exactly what Ford wanted to happen! Building reliable vehicles that people want to talk about and share is all part of their branding process. This can be part of your brand loyalty process, too!

How can you build referral sources that ultimately support your business development strategy?

Engage with your current clients

One of the most efficient ways to attract future clients is to utilize your current client base, allowing them to tap into their networks for you. It’s likely that their business connections are also your target audience or potential referral base.

One way to encourage engaged conversation with your current clients is to offer a survey or assessment. Surveys provide an opportunity for you to better understand your clients, but also help your clients give you referral information directly.

READ: CREATE A SURVEY TO RECEIVE REFERRAL INFORMATION.

Make sure to follow up after you have received survey responses. This tells your clients that you appreciate the feedback. During this follow-up step, they may be more likely to make an email or personal introduction.

Tips to connect with referrals

Always collect your referral’s email address to easily follow up and connect. Frequent follow-ups allow you and your business to stay top of mind with your referral sources without taking up too much of their or your time.

Keep the emails focused on what’s new with your firm or association, what services or events you’re offering and the ways you can assist them with their own clients. Your goal is to show your clients that you care and by doing so you will build brand loyalty through these emails and keep your firm top of mind.

What happens next?

You received referral contact information, engaged with those referrals, and now they have started working with you. Hooray! You have reached your goal. Or have you?

The process isn’t complete just yet. Give the referral source a quick phone call or write a personal note, thanking them for their referral. Better yet, depending on the size of the prospect they referred you, you may want to send them a gift such as a gift card, a bottle of wine or something they would enjoy. This is a great way to increase brand loyalty even further and start the referral process all over again.

Ultimately, if you can refer business back to your referral sources, that’s a slam-dunk branding gift that they will remember the next time their clients have a need!

Over time, you will see the trickle effect of your referral program! Your new clients will begin to share their own referrals, which can further establish your brand positioning.

Want to learn more about adding partnerships and referral sources into your brand positioning strategy? Read this blog post for tips.


A dial marked with the word "Trust" and turned to high.

Fostering Brand Loyalty

A dial marked with the word "Trust" and turned to high.

Brand loyalty is up for grabs. It’s rare these days to do business with a client for a lifetime, but there are things you can do to inspire your clients to work with you for a long time. It is not enough to do everything right or to simply not make them want to leave. You need to take your communication and connection to the next level.

It probably goes without saying but providing the highest quality customer service and making your clients feel valued is one of the best things you can do to create brand loyalty. This is a great foundational start but now you want to see that loyalty expand to create a community of raving fans for your brand who refer others. Here are a few ways to help you do that.

Provide timely updates about changes that affect your clients and prospects. If you have a robust CRM, you can segment your contacts based on their industry or niches, their role in their organization and what you know they are interested in. You wouldn’t send a manufacturing tax update to a prospect in healthcare. By segmenting your lists to provide relevant information, you show your audience that you care about what interests them. This can make the information appear personalized to them and foster their loyalty to your brand.

Create opportunities for individual connection and make it personal. If you are keeping notes about your clients and top prospects, you likely know a few personal facts about them. Perhaps you know they just took a family vacation or that one of their children graduated from high school. Asking about these events during the beginning of a call or email is a great way to get the conversation going. You can then bridge into the business at hand, but remember to always show an interest in them personally.

READ: THE ART OF VIRTUAL BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT

Thank your clients for working with you. You may be thinking that this is an obvious one and, yes, most everyone is good at thanking their clients for their business around the holidays. However, when was the last time you sent a client a thank you card at a random time of the year or a gift card to a coffee shop? Perhaps they just got through a challenging audit or completed a coveted development project. Sending a gift when one is not expected is when you will stand out and, even more importantly, it will make them feel special. We aren’t saying you should forgo the holiday gifts but sending a thank you at an unexpected time will stand out.

Fostering brand loyalty is something that begins with a prospect and continues throughout the client relationship. Once someone becomes a client, it doesn’t mean the work ends. This is when the relationship can truly grow and thrive.

You may also be interested in four ways you can enhance client service in your professional services firm or association.


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Stay Ahead of Your Competitors with Brand Research and Differentiation

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Accounting firms and engineering firms often call us when they see a competitor suddenly showing up in their market space and winning bids seemingly “out of the blue.”

A closer look at the competition reveals that those firms have set up a strategy to target a certain buyer, market or industry and are now reaping the rewards of months of focused effort. They didn’t just show up. They’ve been there for a while.

When a competitor enters your market and begins to win bids, it’s time to look at your firm’s brand positioning.

What are your clients saying about you?

The first step is to look at what your clients are saying about you. We often find that what firm leaders think about why clients value the firm is different from what clients say.

You can find out what clients are saying by conducting client interviews. We recommend that these are done by an experienced brand consultant. This provides more objective and detailed feedback because the viewpoint is fresh. In addition, your best clients hold the key to discovering how to attract more clients of that caliber. Asking the right questions can bring out open and honest feedback, which helps you align your message with how your clients view you.

Who are your competitors and what are they up to?

You won’t know unless you do some research to find out who they are and what they’re up to. Invest in a competitive analysis that gives you a side-by-side comparison of key industry and niche competitors and where they’re gaining an edge — before they get the jump on you.

To do this, look at competitors’ websites, advertising and social media. You can also hire a secret shopper of your competitors to find out how they talk about themselves. 

What are your firm’s differentiators?

What is it that makes your firm unique? How are you different from your competitors? Competitive differentiators show up in your community. Some firms are already known for a level of charitable participation, a landmark building, an outrageous personality or some other unique feature of their community involvement. If you’re working on your differentiation internally, you may already be aware of what your community knows about you. Is it consistent with the messages from clients and prospects and your leadership? Is there something new to add?

Developing your Brand Message

At the end of this brand research process you should be able to come up with a list of three to five areas that distinguish you from your competitors. State them as phrases that are easy to remember. The end goal is for each individual in your firm to remember the core ideas that define the brand of your firm. When you give people core ideas, they can customize these to fit the situation they’re in at the time. The same ideas can be represented on your website, in proposals, public relations and all your marketing messages. In an information-flooded world, the beauty of clearly stated key messages leads to consistent branding and client expectations.

Ingenuity has the tools to provide analysis and recommendations for preserving or expanding niche business and clients. Don’t be caught off-guard by a competitor creeping into your market.

LEARN MORE ABOUT INGENUITY’S BRAND RESEARCH SERVICES


 

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Why Should Your New Leaders Get Brand Training?

Clearly defined brand positioning and training is highly critical for firms and organizations to understand how they are unique from their competition and to articulate the value they provide to their clients. In this video, hear from Communications Consultant, Christine Nelson, as she shares about the importance of brand positioning for professional service firms and organizations. Her advice includes revisiting your brand positioning often; brand training for leaders and new staff and creating target personas.

PERSONAS CAN ACCELERATE YOUR BRAND POSITIONING. LEARN HOW.


If you prefer to read the video transcript, you may find it below:

When we conduct research with clients and referral sources, we are looking for common themes about how a firm or organization is different from its competition. But we also pick up other things in these surveys and interviews. For example, we might learn that some clients only know about the services they use. There isn’t any cross servicing opportunity.

We see the same thing with our association research. Staff members aren’t always clear the difference from their competitors, so it’s hard for them to share that difference with potential members.

These are just some reasons why you should conduct brand training with newly promoted or hired leaders.

They are the face of your firm on social media, in networking conversations and with new prospect queries. Even if they have worked there a long time, a promotion puts them in a different mindset about how to promote your firm or organization. Newly hired leaders also need to know how to approach recruitment and prospecting.

So here is my advice:

Once or twice a year, revisit your brand positioning. Review your messages. Are they still accurate? Do they feel right? Has something changed?

Schedule a time to train newer leaders and staff on why your firm or organization is different and the types of prospects you are looking for. You could help them create some sales questions to qualify prospects.

If you need help creating target personas or branded messaging, you can talk to Ingenuity! Help your leaders confidently promote your firm or organization.


 

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Brand Positioning: 4 Ways to Enhance Client Service

Person writing brand positioning on a chalk boardWe conduct multiple client surveys and interviews every year to help professional service firms improve their brand loyalty.  Based on our research, the top two reasons that clients leave a professional service firm is that they don’t feel valued and they don’t perceive value from the relationship. 

If you find yourself in this situation at your firm: straying clients, unhappy clients, bad reviews or certain disciplines that don’t handle client service as well as others, it may be time for team training on your client service standards as well as a refresh on your brand positioning. Help everyone serve clients consistently well. 

SEE BRANDING SERVICES AND TEAM TRAINING

To get you started, here are four baseline behaviors that every professional who directly works with clients should exhibit with every client encounter.  

Be friendly. 

Close up of man sticking out hand for handshakeWe understand that some people don’t find small talk particularly easy. But your clients expect a certain level of check-in or friendliness when you communicate. Start calls or meetings by asking about their week, showing interest in them as people. 

You will quickly see if clients appreciate a few minutes of settling into the meeting and also when they want to get right down to business. Keep their preferences in mind for the next time you meet. 

Be organized.

Woman putting a post it into a appointment calendarAs a professional service provider, there is no excuse for disorganization. Before a meeting, build in 15 minutes of time to prep for the agenda, understand the goals for the day or week, see who is part of the meeting and who is responsible for each item on the to-do list. If you have trouble keeping a calendar, identify an app or assistant that can remind you with notifications or alarms for the most important meetings. 

Even if you are in the field, make use of mobile devices and previous notes to  prepare for an efficient conversation with clients. Be the keeper of details. That way, your clients can easily move from your meeting to the next one. 

Set clear deadlines.

Tack stuck into the 22nd calendar dateBefore you set a deadline, make sure that it makes sense for the client as well as for your team. There is nothing worse than setting an unrealistic deadline or accepting a client’s deadline when you know it won’t work. Speak up and work out a compromise. 

Frequently missed deadlines won’t garner much favor with clients. Avoid setting up yourself or your team for failure. Understand the realities of time to deliver quality work in the midst of competing projects and the unexpected. 

With these things in mind, organize the timeline with a mental goal of delivery BEFORE the deadline. It will help set realistic expectations with clients.  

Communicate.

Woman yelling into megaphoneAfter every honest effort, if you can’t meet a deadline, speak up. In our research, we find that if clients simply hear regularly from their professional service providers on project progress, they are more accepting of delays. Communicate honestly and often about issues so they can be a partner in the process. 

Determine the client’s preferred method of communication. Do they like when you pick up the phone or not? Try providing a summary of outstanding items or questions in one email. That way, they don’t have to scan through multiple emails or messages. If you use voicemail, be clear on what you need. Unless you know the client really well and they prefer it, avoid leaving a message that just says, “call me back.” 

Be respectful of the client’s time and money. When it comes down to it, they are trusting you to deliver value and help them reach their goals. Show them that you value them, too! It will enhance your brand positioning. 


Do you have really great clients who are able to give you personal testimonials?
Here are some tips to get better testimonials.


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3 Ways Personas Accelerate Brand Positioning

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Personas, also known as client profiles or target markets, are a description of the types of clients and influencers that choose your services. 

They apply to professional services whether you operate a firm or an association, and they should be a key component of your market research. 

BEFORE STARTING MARKET RESEARCH, DOWNLOAD OUR RESEARCH PLANNING TOOL.

There are three big reasons to create and use personas — and to update them. They   focus your marketing, assist with prospecting and train your team on client service. All of these areas affect your brand positioning because potential clients or members need to quickly know that you understand them and can help them better than anyone.

1. Personas for Marketing

Effective marketing campaigns offer solutions for the potential buyer. Personas should include a description of your target buyer(s) that includes challenges, pains, goals and desires. These descriptions will help you focus your marketing messages on how your services bring solutions and support goals. By articulating how you best serve the buyer, you are differentiating your brand.

Whether you are writing blog posts, creating an ad campaign or writing website copy, personas will help you create content that fits the buyer. You will avoid the common problem of writing all about you instead of what buyers really want to know. Can you help them, and what should they do about their issue?

If you aren’t sure of your target buyer’s pains, interests or desires, interview your current clients or members and find out how you solve their problems and help them. It will clarify your brand positioning. You can include that feedback in your persona description! 

2. Personas for Sales

When having sales conversations, one rule of thumb is to have the prospective buyer speak two-thirds of them and to actively listen to their answers. To get them talking, you need great questions. But don’t just ask any question. Ask a question related to your brand; convince them that you are the best choice. 

A persona description will help you develop sales questions that relate to your target buyer to qualify them, but also to get them talking about what’s most important to them in a professional service relationship. 

For example, if you solve the challenge of training, ask a sales question like, “How important is it to you that your [professional service relationship] supports a well-educated team at your company?” It’s likely that the right buyer will say that it’s very important, which gives you an opportunity to ask about types of education they seek, and then talk about your service offerings.  

The persona description helps you prepare for these conversations with confidence and consistency. 

3. Personas for Client Service

Once you attract a new client — or a new member in the case of associations — you can use your persona descriptions to address how to deliver great client service. The descriptions can be used to train your staff on client service expectations, how you solve problems and how you make a difference. 

You can even create persona descriptions for referral sources and influencers. Help team members understand how to develop industry connections that can refer new opportunities to your firm or association. Everyone can take ownership of your brand positioning with the right knowledge. Personas are just one way to do this. 

Marketing needs to be personal but how do you know you are appealing to real people behind the digital curtain? Check out some of our best personalization tips.


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Create a Powerful Brand Identity

Unified standards are crucial for creating a brand that is memorable. How your logo is used digitally and in print can affect your brand perception with clients and prospects. In this video, hear from Design Consultant Robert Wasiluk as he shares how a logo kit and style guide help create consistency for your brand.

Your color and logo looks sharp, but does your brand need a better story?
Check out our storytelling guide to get tips.


If you prefer to read the video transcript, you may find it below:

Create a Powerful Brand Identity

Does your firm use a logo kit and style guide for visual identity consistency and recognition? These are important tools in communicating your brand effectively.

But what is a logo kit? A logo kit consists of your logo saved in a variety of file formats so your brand identity will stay consistent across different media formats. High resolution native Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop files are mainly used for print related materials. JPG, PNG and GIF files are mainly used for the web and presentations.

A style guide works in conjunction with a logo kit and is a set of standards for the design of print documents, website pages, signage and other formats that would include your visual brand identifier. The reason for a style guide is to ensure complete uniformity in style and formatting wherever your brand is used. Some of the items it covers are proper logo formats and their usages, official fonts and color palettes and other elements such as your brand voice, styles of photography and artwork that can be used. 

These standards are crucial for building a memorable brand, one that is easily recognizable and brings a clear sense of reliability and security. It also helps everyone in a firm and vendors of a firm stay on the same page, and present a unified brand to the public.


 

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Refresh Your Brand with Color

As a marketer, it’s important when creating a brand to explore how the psychology of color sends the right message to prospective clients. Choosing the right combination of colors will help your audience know who you are and what you do. Choosing the wrong colors can be detrimental to a company or campaign. In this video, hear from Design Consultant Robert Wasiluk and learn what colors represent for your brand.

WATCH: FIVE DESIGN TIPS FOR SEO-FRIENDLY WEB DESIGN 


If you prefer to read the video transcript, you may find it below:

Refresh Your Brand with Color

Does your visual brand need a color reboot? As a marketer, it’s important when creating a brand to explore how the psychology of color sends the right message to prospective clients. Choosing the right combination of colors will help your audience know who you are and what you do. Choosing the wrong colors can be detrimental to a company or campaign.

Here is a list of primary colors and some of the color philosophy behind them.

For many of our service firm clients we see a predominate use of the color blue, which shows up in 33% of the top brands of the world. The color Blue is commonly used to convey trust, security and confidence. It’s also thought to put people at ease as it reminds them of the sky and ocean.

Red is also another popular branding color. It evokes warmth, passion and stimulates appetites. Restaurant food chains like McDonald’s and Red Lobster use it for that very reason. It’s also great for capturing attention.

Yellow is an ideal color choice for brands looking to instill positivity into their identity. It’s often associated with the sun and its different shades can help bring out hope and optimism. Yellow is often used in point of sale messaging, as it is proven to catch the eye quicker than any other color.

The color green is easiest on our eyes to read. It is a pleasing shade often used to convey calm and rest. Darker tones of green are connected with money and wealth. Like all colors, green has a negative side. It can often symbolize sickness, luck and jealousy.

Having a visual identity with a strong color philosophy behind it is crucial. It can make or break a brand or a campaign. If you’d like us to help analyze your brand’s colors, feel free to contact us through our website at www.ingenuitymarketing.com.

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How to Get More Referrals

Clients are willing to share about their experience with your firm in many different ways including word-of-mouth, online reviews and testimonials. Standing out in an increasingly digital world can be challenging. In this video, Dawn Wagenaar, Principal, shares five tips to create brand loyalty and get more referrals.

 LEARN ABOUT INGENUITY'S BRANDING PROCESS. 


If you prefer to read this content, the video transcript is below.

Clients will share their brand loyalty by word-of-mouth, but also through online reviews and testimonials. Do you want more referrals?  To stand out in a more digital world, here are five tactics to improve your brand loyalty and perception

Number one: Branding messages.Teach your team to talk about your firm in a consistent way that shows how clients gain value.  If you do not have consistent messaging – or your messages are outdated – it is time to do brand research and create fresh messages. 

Number two: Customer service standards.  –  Does everyone know when email or voicemail should be returned?  Is it within 24 hours, by the end of the day, within 8 hours? Should cell phones be in client meetings?  Should you bring an agenda to the client meeting?  What type of message should you leave on your “out of office” if you are in CPE for the day? If you have consistent standards around how you work with clients and provide timely service to them, your referrals will go up!  

Number three: A welcome kit.  Even after you win the engagement, you are still selling and building trust. Send new clients a welcome kit with details about their project, who will be on their team including bios with photos and contact information, a list of services you provide, social media they can follow as well as a service representative unrelated to the engagement team. Send clients this kit and welcome them to the firm.

Number four: A client service retreat and training.  – Your team wants training. They want to know what great service looks like in order to perform beyond expectations. Train your staff on providing great client service, and discuss ways to improve service based on current client and team issues.   

Number five: Secret shopping your digital presence.  – Hire someone to act as a prospect and visit your website, look for directions, call your office, visit your firm and see what kind of follow-up happens. Does this experience reflect what you think happens during a prospect’s exploration of your firm?  If it does not, you will see areas to improve your brand positioning and attract new business from referrals. 

From first impressions to amazing client service, these tactics will help you create brand loyalty and a referral machine.