Recently, a client called me in a panic. Hardly able to breathe, she said, “How am I going to compete? My competitors seem to be Doctors, and I only have my MSW. What am I going to do…I have to make a living?”
If you’re in the business of marketing and selling a service, you may have experienced similar moments of distress. Many service providers find that they look and sound like all the others in their field. They’re often unsure of how their service offering is really different from anyone else’s.
Two keys to successful branding are the ability to define and articulate your distinct value and then connect that message emotionally to your target market.
The Branding Challenge for Service-Based Businesses
The challenge for service-based businesses is that most branding and marketing programs are based on the product-marketing model, which is outward facing. Your messaging and unique differences are built around external motivators or pain points that your perfect client is experiencing.
The problem with this approach is that you sound FAKE when you rattle off your unique difference and the value you provide. Why? Because your message doesn’t resonate with YOU!
Selling a service is often personal for you and your prospective buyer. You’re emotionally involved in what you do and recognize the impact of the service provided to change individuals, companies and maybe the world.
When Your Message is Not Congruent You Work against Yourself
That‘s why it’s emotionally crushing when you can’t comfortably articulate your value in a way that resonates with you as well as your target market. You feel FAKE saying “you will make more money in less time, or your business will double, or your wrinkles will disappear” because the message is not connected to your deeper purpose.
The net result is that you end up working against yourself to attract new clients. Neuroscience tells us we’re naturally wired to detect very small discrepancies in behavior. Prospective buyers may not be able to put their finger on it, but they sense when you’re not “telling the truth.” They will not buy from you because they do not trust you.
Inward-Outward Branding Builds Trust and Confidence
When you look inward, you discover your unique perspective, beliefs about what you do, how the service is delivered and the associated impact. Your distinct difference and value is found at the intersection of purpose, passion and market need…the Authentic You.
Inward-outward branding shifts your energy from timid to comfortable and confident. When you talk about your value and service offerings, your verbal and non-verbal cues match. This creates congruency.
People feel brands and when they sense congruency, it leads to trust. The person “choosing” your business offering needs to feel “confident” they’ve made a good buying decision. And you must feel confident about your own value and deliverables, for the whole equation to work
Your Unique Difference Makes All the Difference
You might be interested to know what we discovered in completing the Messaging and Branding Module of the 3C MAP Marketing™ Method with the client mentioned at the beginning of this article. The inward part of the branding message happens through a guided interview and discovery process. Then we interview clients to gain their perspective.
It turns out what she thought she was lacking, “I’m not a Dr.,” was the very thing her clients appreciated. They felt she was more approachable and not thinking about their issue from only a clinical perspective. That combined with her real-world perspective and educational foundation was what they valued.
Whether you are a service-based company of one or many, give yourself a head start by branding from the inside out. After all…your unique difference makes all the difference!
Based in Denver, CO, 3C Marketing Group, LLC specializes in the art and science of marketing professional services. We develop and execute integrated marketing systems that drive results for our clients. Please visit our website at www.3CMarketingGroup.com to learn more.
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