How to Harness a Rebrand for Maximum Marketing Momentum – Part 2 of 2 of our Rebrand Your Way to Success Series
“The essence of a strategy is choosing what not to do.” Michael Porter, famed Harvard professor and economist, and thought leader in modern strategic business theory, said that. Truer words were never spoken when it comes to marketing strategy – especially for today’s accounting and advisory firms.
If you’ve followed my recent blogs at Bill.com, we’ve talked about the intrinsic value in a rebrand and my own firm’s rebranding story. We also learned that rebranding is a good opportunity to evaluate your target client and decide what tone/messaging will resonate with them. And we discussed the importance of selecting a target market/niche for your firm so that you can “get rich in a niche,” as they say.
Then, in Part 1 of this series, we sketched out the steps you can take to lead your own company through a brand or rebrand. But once you have your big, beautiful new brand in place, then what? A loss of momentum would compromise your investment in the branding process, and our ROI-focused accounting brains can’t have that, right?! So, what’s next?
Here are 6 steps to help you capitalize on your momentum and set yourself up for future marketing success. (You may want the help of a qualified marketing expert to assist with some or all of these steps if this area of operations doesn’t come naturally to you.)
- Determine who will be responsible for your marketing tactics and execution. Is it going to be you, a partner at your firm, a staff member? Or will you outsource your marketing activities? There’s no right or wrong answer here – it basically boils down to who you think will execute best. Remember, you don’t want to lose momentum after a rebrand – you want someone who is passionate about and capable of taking the baton and running with it. Someone must have accountability and ultimate responsibility for this area of your operations. What you can afford, though, is also a key consideration, which leads us to our second step.
- Develop an initial marketing budget. There are lots and lots of ways to spend money on marketing. Website development, print and online advertising, events, social media “boosts” or paid ads, graphic design, and staff time are major considerations. If you’re a small firm or just starting out, your budget doesn’t have to be big. But the budget exercise will help you think through the nitty gritty of your new marketing undertaking. Since you’re an accountant, it will also likely be one of the easiest steps for you to tackle – so go for it!
- Choose the right channels. Marketing channels are the ways and means that you will use to reach your ideal client. Think of marketing channels like TV channels. Does your average middle-aged American male want to watch the sappy movie channel? Does your child want to watch cartoons or the documentary channel? Your channels should directly correlate to your target audience.
Here’s where identifying your niche, as you did in your initial branding exercises, really starts to work for you. Your niche acts, thinks, and consumes information in certain ways. You want to understand their behavior as intimately as possible. Then you can ensure your brand will show up in front of the right people. The narrower your niche and marketing channels are, the easier it will be for your marketing team to create editorial content that will resonate with that audience. You have more opportunity to position yourself as an expert within a narrow niche, too.
Oh, and one additional note on channels: websites are a must have. Come join the world in the 21st century. If you don’t have a website, it’s time to get one.
- Celebrate and publicize your new brand. This is one step that I can’t emphasize enough, and where I most often see my colleagues slip after a rebrand. You get your new logo and website squared away, maybe a couple of social media profiles going, and then you go back to doing taxes and your day-to-day. Nooooo! Please, if you take just one thing away from this post, let it be this: You have one chance to get in front of new and different people after a rebrand. One. It’s a slim window – 1-3 months in my experience. If you fail to harness the potential energy your rebranding creates, you will not get another opportunity to do so until, wait for it, your next rebranding. (My stomach lurches just thinking about that.) The best part of a rebrand is the boatload of FREE or near-free marketing opportunities it creates. Here are some ideas:
- Write a blog post to tell your story and direct your current clients to it – here’s the one we wrote. (I got personal calls and emails for weeks after we posted this.)
- Write a press release and push it out to local media. Here’s the one we did.
- Join your local chamber of commerce and or local associations where your niche hangs out.
- Whether you are a new chamber member or just a renewing one, have a ribbon cutting to publicly celebrate your new brand. (Ribbon cuttings are usually free to hold.) Then take pictures and post them everywhere you can online! We had 360+ views of this 5 second video on our Facebook page after our ribbon cutting. #whatthefox?!
- Share as much as you can about your brand on social media, both your personal and professional profiles and pages. Ask your team to share the posts, and you’ll see some lift here, too. Basic posts on all platforms are free, but if you want to really push it out and get maximum exposure, you can pay for “boosts” or sponsored content.
- Claim your Google Business listing, a FREE offering on Google Maps. Identify your location, use the map listing to showcase your photos, graphics, logo, and a little bit about what you do. Bonus points if you get some clients to give your business a review. 49% of businesses receive more than 1,000 views per month on Google Maps! You literally can’t afford to miss this opportunity.
- Send out an email newsletter. If you don’t already have an e-news going, take this opportunity to identify a platform that fits your needs and send out your first blast celebrating your big, beautiful new brand. Up until our rebrand, I had put off an e-newsletter and gathering my contacts into one central database. But I couldn’t afford to miss this opportunity. I was shocked to discover that over the years I had gathered nearly 2,500 email addresses. When our first email went out it had over a 35% open rate! Almost unheard of in the accounting industry. My phone rang off the hook for 2 weeks straight with interest, encouragement, and congratulations from friends and colleagues. Our business doubled in a matter of months. It was near-instant ROI and brand validation. So get thee a newsletter!
- Set yourself up for sales success. Yes, sales is different from marketing. (Please, if I hear another accountant lump those two together… oy!) Sales and business development requires certain operational support in order to work. If you’ve chosen the right channels for your brand and market, and capitalized on your rebrand appropriately, you will absolutely see an influx of new business and possibly deepened engagements with your current client base. If you are not prepared (I wasn’t!) for this new business activity from a sales point of view, it can be overwhelming and scary, and present new reputational risks. So set yourself up for success BEFORE you start shouting from the rooftops about your new brand. If your contact list is not in a CRM platform (Customer Relationship Management), get it there. If you don’t have your pricing and sales proposal structure in place, go ahead and take care of that. And if you need to hire admin or sales staff, even in advance of the business coming in, do it. You will need folks who can help you execute and manage your sales funnel.
- Establish appropriate metrics. Finally, what will you define for yourself and your firm as metrics of success? New business? New leads? In-bound contacts? Website traffic? Social media indicators? As accountants, we know that numbers in a vacuum mean very little. As your business takes off, you will want comparative data. So set about establishing some basic metrics for your team, and enhance them as time goes on and you discover more about what data is meaningful to your marketing and sales processes.
Your rebranding is a beautiful moment. You’ve worked hard. You’ve poured heart, soul, and dollars into it. If you can take the next big leap and work through the 6 steps above, you will be delighted by the results. And if you’re feeling overwhelmed by the challenge, just take small steps and break down the process into bite-size chunks.=
At the end of the day, as marketing guru, author, and serial entrepreneur Seth Godin says, “Every interaction, in any form, is branding.” Every phone call, every email, every social media ping, is branding. Whether your firm is small or large, you must approach marketing as a continuous cycle – an infinite web of interaction with your clients. There is no one and done here. The key to today’s firm’s success is recognizing and embracing the opportunity within that approach.
The more focused you are on others – on your clients, on your team – and how they represent your brand, the more meaningful your marketing and value added will become.