by Lee Frederiksen
Managing partners and C-Suite executives are often faced with the complexities of building their firm’s brand and amplifying growth. They must consider the following questions:
- What are the most successful methods?
- What will be the most cost-effective?
- Will our firm have the necessary resources?
In our research, we’ve found that nurturing Visible ExpertsSM can have widespread benefits on a firm’s brand and growth. This breed of experts has achieved a high profile and outstanding reputation in a workplace, industry and possibly beyond. We break these high visibility experts into five levels:
- Resident Expert
- Local Hero
- Rising Star
- Industry Rock Star
Depending on the size of your firm, many of you likely have some first-level folks floating around your various departments. Find and start nurturing them. Building their brand will build yours because clients want to work with them.
Why Professional Services Buyers Seek Out Visible Experts
Your clients have needs they can’t meet in-house, and they understand the value of working with someone the industry recognizes as a leader. The benefits, as ranked in recent research involving more than 1,000 buyers of professional services, include the following:
Benefits of Working with a Visible Expert
Clients learn from Visible Experts, and they trust them to get the job done with less risk while upping their credibility in the process. But what about the benefits to your firm, the one with the actual burgeoning Visible Expert?
The Effects of Visible Experts on Firms as a Whole
We interviewed 130 Visible Experts and asked what effect they had on their firm overall. The top two responses were business development and brand building, each reported by more than 60 percent of experts. Having these Visible Experts in house helps firms grow and increases their brands’ value. Let’s unpack this a little further.
The essential components of your brand are your reputation and your visibility. This is true of both firms and individuals. Having an expert who is well recognized, and well respected, gives your firm a brand-building boost by association. But the big question on your mind is how this brand development actually impacts your firm’s business. Experts indicated increased growth, more leads, larger audiences, a better ratio of deals closed and the ability to charge premium rates for high-profile expertise. What more could you ask for?
High Visibility Experts Command Higher Billing Rates
To that last point about billing rates: We asked buyers, given a $100/hour baseline for an average professional, what they’d be willing to pay for a Visible Expert. Their responses are broken out according to the five levels of experts described early in this discussion.
These averages reveal that even your first-level, in-house expert can bring in twice as much as an average professional. There’s a steady climb through second and third level, then the rates nearly double at 4th and again and 5th level. A Visible Expert at the top of his or her field can bring in more than 13 times what an average professional can. Buyers understand the value that Visible Experts bring to the table.
Visible Experts’ Effects on Business Development
Experts indicated a range of benefits on firm growth and business development, including an increase in leads. Visible Experts drive leads in a number of ways, including speaking engagements and search engine visibility.
As for the follow-through on those leads, experts listed three major impacts on their firms’ abilities to seal the deal:
- A shortened sales cycle
- Leads that are easier to close
- Better-quality clientele
These benefits are likely due to buyers’ pre-existing familiarity with the high-visibility expert, their online content and their prior high-profile projects and business relationships.
Having a Visible Expert within your firm is a great way to build your brand and grow your company. Superstars don’t rocket into space overnight, but the benefits make the work worthwhile. If you’re ready to take your firm to new heights, start nurturing your rising stars. Lift them up, and they’ll carry you far.
Lee W. Frederiksen, Ph.D., is Managing Partner at Hinge, a marketing firm that specializes in branding and marketing for professional services. Hinge is a leader in rebranding firms to help them grow faster and maximize value. Lee can be reached at LFrederiksen@hingemarketing.com or 703-391-8870.
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