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Establish Credibility in The Form of Online Presence vs. Physical Location

Building a strong brand is one of the problems that professional service firms must face. In this case, the online presence would be a better support to these businesses than the flashy physical location.
By Linda Au | EnvZone Staff
on March 05, 2020 | 8 min read
Image credit: Press Associate

Unlike other types of businesses, professional services firms sell knowledge and expertise. Thus, if you're a manager at a professional services firm, it can be difficult to maintain your "human capital" rather than maintain machinery, products, and warehouses. So too case of business development, you cannot focus on building a flashy physical location. Instead, you should spend the effort to create a strong online presence for marketing success. 

What is Professional Service?

Professional services firms sell knowledge and expertise that is not tangible, physical products. They include professional services spanning multiple industries such as finance, legal, engineering, marketing and most of the other consultants.

This knowledge and expertise can attract small-business owners, who cannot be experts in everything. They can master the basic knowledge of management, sales, and marketing but not law or accounting, etc. Furthermore, these firms have something else that other small-business owners lack. It is time.

Difficult Problems in Professional Services Firms

#1. Professional services are big business in the U.S.

In the United States, the professional services sector is developing strongly. Namely, IT consulting alone is around 408 billion dollars, followed by law firms, engineering firms, and management consulting firms. These firms are operated by millions of associates.

As the market grows, there are more and more competitors proliferate, professional services firms have to increase service quality and decrease pressure on fees. Thus, customers need a strong and unique brand that gives clients, prospects to believe.

However, many professional services firms come across as complex, fragmented and undifferentiated. Do the effects come from a range of factors such as mergers, acquisitions, the rapid proliferation of new service offerings, and name changes. That even it is often difficult for job candidates to comprehend what a firm actually does, let alone why prospective clients should choose it over its competitors.

#2. Most professional services firms sound the same

Professional service firms do not use words and claims to accurately describe the differences and individual firm strengths. They blur into homogeneity and fail to meet the challenge of differentiation rather than stand out. In fact, business opportunities occur not only for similar or a few innovative services but also for one-of-a-kind service.

#3. It is hard to market the intangible product

In the manufacturing and consumer goods arena, the brand and its product can be conveyed to the target audience via advertising and communications. But in professional services firms, it is the professionals who represent the brand in every interaction have to convey the brand in their relationships with their clients. However, they cherish their individual autonomy and do not want to parrot a corporate script that puts these firms at a disadvantage. Because the firm needs its clients to have a committed relationship with the organization, not just to the individual consultant.

In short, based on difficult problems that professional service firms must face, we can realize the business is constantly evolving. A range of similar businesses, lack of innovation, marketing difficulties, etc. that stress business owners out. They have to complete the mountains of work while still making sure they are listening and responding to the audience's needs. Most importantly, in order to retain customers, business owners must build credibility and a strong brand because where there is trust, there is a growing and sustainable relationship. When owning a strong brand, customers, partners, and peers respect the business as well as its owner. But not only that, a range of external and internal benefits will come with businesses if the whole team concentrates on building a strong brand.

Benefits from Strong Brand

A powerful brand signals the fundamental human meaning in your business that highlights and makes you matter to your potential clients and recruits. This is a strategic business issue relating to symbolic expressions of the brand such as name, logo, visual style, etc.

A unique and differentiated brand can simplify business operations

  • The sales cycle and the process of generating revenue are shortened by allowing the right clients to self-select. Like-minded clients can find your business through beliefs, values and unique points of view.
  • The recruiting cycle can be shortened since quality talents will self-select strong businesses. Likeminded recruits will share your passion and bring innovative creativities to make your organization extraordinary.
  • Define and protect a unique arena for your business by building a platform that enables you to stand out and be known for something important.

A unique and differentiated brand can bring significant rewards inside and outside the firm

External benefits

  • Command a fee premium
  • Articulate a credible and clear identity
  • Create a lot of paths to differentiation
  • Develop consistent messaging
  • Optimize the value of the organization in the event of a sale
  • Manage shorter, less costly sales and recruiting cycles
  • Enable the potential clients to self-select

Internal benefits

  • Arrange the leadership team
  • Build an awareness of the multilayered value proposition
  • Offer a consistent compass for R&D investment
  • Focus marketing strategies
  • Respect individual autonomy while building on shared meaning
  • Enable the suitable staff to self-select

The Physical Location of Professional Service Business

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Why location might not matter

A physical location only meets several of the customer's demands. Compared with the larger population of the country, it is hard for them to see your storefront. This means that flashy storefronts and strategic physical locations are becoming less and less important for online businesses. Instead, a well-built website, social network campaign and blog post can reach a much more interested audience than storefront or office building.

Why location will always matter

Attract talents

One of the biggest reasons to maintain a business location is the problem of talent acquisition. If your business has the kind of prestige that would make a job seeker leave their area to take part in your team instead you have to rely on local pools of talent. Besides, if business owners establish a suitable geographical location, their businesses can attract the kind of people they want to work with.

Increase brand visibility

A physical location also affects the effectiveness of marketing strategies, the competition it faces from businesses, the total cost of operation, payable taxes as well as the regulations they must follow.

Easy access

Basically, a physical location should be located wherever your customers are what makes it as convenient as possible for them to visit your business. Also, the physical location is a matter of the utmost importance because most customers select to buy from certain companies based on the perception, they have about them. For example, a business in the commercial area of a city gives the perception that the business is successful and strongly developed.

To sum up: Except for benefits from the business location, there is also some inconvenience stopping the growth of the professional service business. This does not mean that the two are mutually exclusive but if you’re hoping to attract new customers with nothing more than a flashy business location, you might have some troubles.

In fact, there are also some professional service-based businesses wasting money on building physical location but failing to establish credibility and authority in the form of an online presence. Maybe they perform their development strategies or do not comprehend the importance of online presence. It brings to businesses a lot of competitive advantages, basically, they include 4 pros following. 

The Importance of Online Presence

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#1. Make it easier for potential customers to visit

Nowadays, potential customers often want to know more information about the business before making purchasing decisions by doing their research online. Although they’re specifically looking for your business or any other companies that offer the products or services being similar to yours, having an online presence will give you a competitive edge. Potential customers will not waste their precious time in finding your business rather than finding others. In this case, a simple Google search can offer them all the information they seek.

#2. Make it easier to showcase products and services

The Internet is an effective platform for businesses to showcase what they have to offer including a portfolio and testimonials from clients on a website or an album on a Facebook page with photos of their newest products. Customers can see what they’re all about through a few simple clicks. They can visit a business outside of business hours since an online presence is a storefront that never sleeps. 

#3. Make it easier to build relationships with the target audience

Social media is a platform for both individuals and businesses to build relationships. Social media gives your brand a strong voice that makes your company more credible. Customers and potential customers can interact with your brand on a more personal level that is the opportunity for your business to get to know the target audience. If businesses do not take advantage of social media, they can miss out on an invaluable opportunity to approach leads. Social media is one of the effective ways to get people interested in your business and to form real relationships with real people.

#4. Make it easier to market the brand

Websites and social media platforms are not only excellent marketing tools but also effective methods of sending out information to the sight of people. Online marketing is extremely important because ways consumers make purchasing decisions depend on it. Moderns consumers can look at business in a negative light if it has no online presence. Marketing via the internet allows businesses to overcome distance barriers. People far away can get information about your business with just a few clicks even spread the word about your business to all their friends. In short, online presence gives businesses lots of chances to market the brand in creative and exciting ways. It is a way for them not to be left behind since an online presence is an important investment whose benefits are endless.

All things considered, as you've seen from this section, one of the four benefits online presence can support businesses is marketing the brand. This proved emphatically that online presence helps professional service businesses resolve difficult matters through build strong brand on online platforms.

Conclusion

Professional services firms have many unique challenges. They have to look for ways to keep staff motivation, morale high and develop marketing strategies to attract leads as well as retain current clients. To draw the attention of targeted objects, these businesses cannot lack a strong brand. If you are a business owner, especially professional service businesses, you should not waste money on building physical location because that is not helpful completely for the whole business developing process. Instead, establishing credibility and authority in the form of online presence will bring surprise benefits for your professional service business.

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