If you have ever been in a kayak with another person, you can easily understand the importance of staying in sync. By paddling in different directions you will literally go nowhere. Keeping this in mind, why do professional services concerns adopt different messages across their collateral?
Press releases are often created in a vacuum without consideration of the firm’s stated objectives on their website. Even more maddening are ads that fail to pair in any meaningful way with both written and graphic collateral materials.
Not only are firms creating more work for their creative team, they are also failing to advance a unified message. These firms are sitting in the middle of the lake going nowhere as well-intentioned creative professionals continually try and move the company in a definitive direction.
Who are you?
It’s a bit of an over-played notion, but if an organization fails to know itself, it really cannot succeed. One of my favorite pages on a website is the “About Us” section. While individual bios may be quite impressive, what concerns me as a potential client (and a communications professional) is the shared vision. What are the common threads that run throughout? Professional services concerns often struggle with this question. However, it is critical as it is the hub from which all marketing and business development spokes are connected to.
Here is what a law firm might say:
XYZ law firm is a problem solver.
We work with clients to identify and alleviate issues that keep them up at night.
We practice preventative medicine with our clients by taking an active interest in their day-to-day operations and by truly partnering with them at all stages – from start-up to lease negotiation to succession planning. When necessary, we also scrub in as surgeons, working to uncover the root of issues and litigating with precision.
Simply said, our success is tied to our clients.
Key Messaging Points:
1. We solve problems.
2. We know your business is your business and we are here to ensure that focus is not taken away from it.
3. We are interested in listening to both your day-to-day and your urgent issues.
4. We litigate efficiently and with focus.
5. We only succeed when you succeed.
(As XYZ exists only in my mind, firms of course would add more substantive meat onto this marketing skeleton.)
Working with the sample “About Us” message at the core, here is how XYZ can move in sync:
Press Release – The part of a press release where one can get creative is the quote. Consider the message points utilized in the following quote.
XYZ Adds Two Attorneys
Quote – “John and Maria, in addition to being accomplished litigators, are also problem solvers. We are excited to add them to our team and are confident that they will succeed in our firm culture where truly listening to and partnering with clients is central to how we operate.”
Ad – Any ad the firm runs, from a community sponsorship to a major trade or business journal, should be carefully considered and echo established messaging. For example:
XYZ’s Focus Is On You
XYZ has been a strategic partner of Oakwood Cupcakes from virtually day one.
We worked with the company’s founders to secure financing.
We helped negotiate their first lease.
(And we tested some of their first products.)
The cooks at Oakwood consistently earn high praise from their customers and our aim is to do everything we can to keep them in the kitchen and doing what they love.
At XYZ, our focus is on you.
Here both the firm’s venture capital/angel investing and commercial real estate practices have been promoted in a manner far more effective than simply stating these services are offered. A story is told, while also hitting on numerous messaging points. A line is even worked that humanizes the firm. The ad itself is a testament to the firm’s strategy as a client is being promoted while marketing the firm.
Bank of America has done a series of ads in this manner that highlighting local investments.
Also, consider this spot from American Express. While they are a consumer company, they too are really offering a service:
The ad tells a story and neatly encapsulates who they are and what you can do when you are a member.
When all of your messaging tools are in sync, you will go places.