Professional Dis-position: How professionals consistently fail to position themselves effectively

Professionals are notoriously bad at brand marketing. Consider the case of chiropractors, who often buy their marketing materials from a prefab supplier of who “specializes” in their segment. It’s convenient no doubt, but hardly effective in differentiating yourself from competitors, who are, by the way, other chiropractors.

But architects, lawyers and accountants may not be much better. They traditionally like to rely on their reputations to do the talking for them. Of course, reputation is important, but it’s also useful to be able to articulate why you are the right choice for someone, and to do so, not just in a conversation, but on your web site. Most people looking for a professional already know they need a lawyer or dentist or whatever. So don’t sell them on dentistry, sell them on you.

Let’s face it, these days the buyer, or client, is in the driver’s seat when it comes to researching their purchase, and professional services are no exception. 60% of the purchasing process happens before a face-to-face meeting. In other word, they are on the Internet checking you out. This means professionals need to get better at messaging who they are and why they should be your choice, particularly in their web content, which tend to read as generic promotions for their professions.

I’m writing a brand strategy now for an architect, and so am dealing with this very challenge. The fact is that this architectural firm, like some professional firms, has a distinct approach to its work. That’s a good place to start. But positioning yourself isn’t just about what makes you different; it’s about what makes you relevant?

Many professionals provide comparable services at comparable pricing. So on the surface, they’re not particularly unique. But there’s some reason that clients are choosing them instead of someone else. What problem do you solve? What business benefit do you provide? What emotional benefit? And then, how do you phrase it in a way that speaks to your audience? Answering these questions is a good place to start.

2 thoughts on “Professional Dis-position: How professionals consistently fail to position themselves effectively

  • Thanks, Joe!

    I am wondering what role education plays in all of this. So many customers turn to people who teach them something that was valuable. I found my dentist because he had a TV spot that not only explained why his procedures were superior, but also taught the basics of dental health in a new way. Aside from branding, how much does marketing depend on teaching the customer something new? (I think you may have touched on this elsewhere.)

  • Education can be a great tool for professionals. Teaching someone something is right up there with making them laugh — you’ve made a connection! You’ll want to pick the right lesson and keep the communication streamlined. Ultimately, you’re the expert, not your audience, you’re just sharing a few slivers of your expertise.

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