Three ways to position yourself as a thought leader in your industry
You’ve made it to part three of our September Strategies series. We’ve given you insight into creating a brand identity that matches your business goals and advice on how to create a communications plan that will achieve those goals. In this blog post, we are going to help you strengthen your reputation and credibility, increase your reach to potential clients, and be recognized as an expert in your industry.
Write, write, and write some more
You and your staff possess significant knowledge that will interest a variety of publications. One way to establish yourself as an expert in your industry is by writing bylined articles. As discussed in our previous blog post, bylined articles are a way for you to provide useful advice and valuable content geared toward potential clients.
There are other ways that you can showcase your knowledge. Writing a blog post is a great way to build awareness about your company, projects, and staff. More importantly, blogging on a consistent basis gives you a platform to express your ideas, solutions, and positions on trending topics.
Last but not least, consider writing an e-book or a white paper containing valuable content to increase your reach to potential clients. Not only that, you can gather valuable contact information from prospects when they download your e-book or white paper.
Speak with the press
Brush up on your interview skills. Interviews with editors and writers are a great way for you to showcase your firm and your portfolio, in addition to increasing your credibility. Wondering how to get in touch with the editor of your favorite magazine? Public relations firms foster relationships with the press and they are able to provide introductions with key editors and writers at top-tier publications. These desk-side meetings will allow you to talk about your experience and expertise. In addition, it will also strengthen your relationship with writers and editors who will be more inclined to go to you in the future for quotes or source new article topics.
Desk-side meetings are not the only way to get interviews. Social media platforms create dialogue that can help you get your thoughts and opinions “heard”. Participate in Q&A forums, like those hosted by LinkedIn or Twitter. You will reach an expanded audience and engage with other professionals in these digital forums.
Seek out speaking engagements
It is valuable for you to seek out speaking engagements at local and national venues. Every time you put yourself in the role of presenter or panel speaker, you are building your authority on best practices, new methods or technologies. By participating in conferences, you will open the doors to other outreach opportunities.
Positioning yourself as a thought leader will not happen overnight. It takes time, effort, and consistency to establish and grow your reputation. Every written piece, interview, or speaking engagement strengthens your authority. So the time to start is now!
Four steps for creating a powerful communications plan
If you read our previous blog post regarding re-calibrating your brand, you’ve taken the first step towards long-term success.
Ok, so you’ve gone through the mini-branding evaluation. You’ve identified the specific types of clients you want, clarified your direct and indirect competitors, defined your differentiators, aligned your business goals with the marketplace, and evaluated your visual identity. Ready for the next steps?
Here at Design of the Haus, we’re taking it further and we’re going to give you an exclusive look at the components of a good communications plan, a document that helps our clients target their messaging, find opportunities to raise their companies’ profiles, promote projects and their firms, and create a calendar of immediate action steps.
Step One: Target your messages
Create your firms’ key messages by answering these sample questions. What differentiators set your firm apart from your competitors? What types of work do you do or aspire to do? Does your firm have a rich history or milestone that you would like to highlight? What special value do you bring to your clients? To create consistent and impactful messaging, create statements that address the questions above and use them for all of your firms’ marketing and outreach material.
Step Two: Raise your company’s profile
To increase your firm’s visibility in the media and get in front of prospective clients, your firm should get involved in professional networks.
- Research and join relevant professional organizations that can help your firm build valuable relationships. Involvement in these types of organizations is an effective way to reach decision makers, gain networking and introduction opportunities, and open new avenues for different types of potential work.
- Seek speaking opportunities at professional events and conferences. This will further establish your firm as experts in a specific industry or market.
- Submit for awards, because winning awards is an excellent way for your firm to get press and impress clients and potential clients. Awards also give your firm credibility and further enhance its reputation that may lead to interviews, speaking engagements, and invitations to panel discussions.
Step Three: Promote your projects and people
It is critical to maintain visibility in your industries and markets. Consistent outreach in a variety of media outlets will keep the company mainstream and “buzzworthy”. Review your recent projects and come up with story or trend ideas to pitch to editors. For example, say your firm is designing the first passive house in Florida. Capitalize on the trend of how passive house technology is crossing over from Europe and becoming mainstream in the US. So you could pitch a story about fitting passive house design into any American landscape, from the hot climates of Florida to the icy winters of Michigan (where its already been applied).
You can also keep your company in the news by having a member of your leadership team write a by-lined article for a professional trades publication, for example, describing your firm’s innovative approach to combining modern technology and traditional materials.
Step Four: Initiate an immediate actions calendar
Plan for the next four to six months and end 2015 strong. First, figure out your immediate, mid-and long-term activities. Include pitch ideas, potential editor meetings, competition deadlines, social media implementation dates, etc. While creating a calendar is the last step of this communications plan, this is not a static document. You will need to review and update it on a consistent basis. In fact, this plan should serve as a starting point for an in-depth communications program for the end of 2015 and well into 2016.
Do you feel the cool breeze signaling the beginning of autumn? Don’t let your business hibernate until the new year. Take control of the remaining months and end the year with a bang! Our three-part September blog series will help you give your business a mini-brand makeover, create an end-of-the year communications plan, and showcase your expertise to lead your industry.
3 steps to re-calibrate your identity
We are bombarded by information all the time – it’s just the world we live in. And we all know how hard it is to focus with so much going on at once. So it’s more important than ever for companies to stand out from their competition. Yes, we mean you.
But how do you do this? You need to create a brand that is identifiable, relatable, and – above all — memorable.
We all hear about branding, but few know what it actually means. It’s not really as complicated as it seems. Simply put, a brand is how your clients perceive your services or company. It encompasses everything from your visual identity to your messaging. Above all, it needs to be consistent. And to be effective, you want to engage clients with your branding and establish strong, lasting relationships.
Speak your clients’ language
Number one, you need to be strategic. You won’t get every client out there – and you may not want to. Your branding needs to appeal to the specific types of clients you want. From the outset, you’ll need to know about your clients, their values, and their goals. This knowledge is a critical foundation for your company’s brand messaging. Without it, you’ll spend a lot of valuable time and money on a scattershot approach. Focus your efforts on the type of clients you currently have and clients that you aspire to have.
Stand out from the pack
Second, you don’t want to match your competitors – you want to outshine them. All of them. Your direct competitors serve similar clients and offer similar services. Your indirect competitors may operate in the same markets but offer different products and services.
Above all, your brand needs to be authentic and reflect your company’s unique qualities and competitive edge. You want to highlight your distinctive attributes and identify ways that your firm stands out. For example, you may have a proprietary design process, an innovative construction method, or an unmatched technology. If no one can claim these same approaches, make these differentiators work for you.
Get in alignment
Once you understand how you measure up to the competition, make sure that your brand identity aligns with your business goals and your marketplace. This is brand positioning. You want to make sure that your brand speaks to your targeted audiences and gets you noticed. It must represent what your company does and where you want to go.
If you brand it, they will come
Once you understand your position in the marketplace, start to create a consistent visual identity that has a unique logo, fonts, color palette, etc. Make sure that your identity reflects your firm and appeals to your audiences. For example, you may want to use bold, bright colors to attract a younger demographic. Your audiences may be local or they may be national. You may want to be more serious or inject a bit of humor. Remember that your brand needs to encompass everything from the services you offer to the benefits you bring to your clients, your personality, and your values, vision, and mission. The same brand needs to be carried throughout your website, collateral material, social media platforms, etc.
Once you have done this exercise, be sure to engage your staff in becoming brand ambassadors for your firm. Then go forth and conquer!