Tips for Branding – the Cornerstone of your Career Service
By Lori Jazvac.
Branding is the cornerstone for a successful career service. According to Entrepreneur.com, “your brand is your promise to your customer. It tells them what they can expect from your products and services, and it differentiates your offering from that of your competitors. Your brand is derived from who you are, who you want to be and who people perceive you to be.”
When I started my virtual resume writing and career consulting practice, I had a vision to assist clients with furthering their career objectives using a strategic approach. I wanted to help them identify their Unique Value Proposition and realize their true passion and purpose. This inspiration became the foundation for a unique business brand that differentiates my services from the competition.
Branding aims to identify and answer the following questions:
- What is your company’s mission?
- What are the benefits and features of your products or services?
- What do your customers and prospects think of your company?
- What qualities do you want them to associate with your company?
Without a unique brand, it’s challenging to differentiate yourself from the competition. Here are some best practices to brand your services for entrepreneurial success.
- Do what you are good at and passionate about. You will be more successful focusing on an area that you are knowledgeable and naturally interested in, as part of your vision and mission (brand).
- Understand your profits. Many entrepreneurs think that what they charge is what they make. This is a myth which is discovered over time. If you subtract time, overhead costs, and supply costs, the amount decreases. Be mindful of the true net profits that you are making and you will likely charge more for your services. Charge what you are worth. Do not underestimate your value. Respect your offerings, time, and services offered. Do your research; then set rates that you are comfortable with and that you think are reasonable.
- Build a strong customer base. Your clients are the most important part of your business. Each client adds enormous experience and value to your business. Whether you choose to work virtually or see clients from your home office, establishing solid relationships and promoting client satisfaction will likely facilitate possible referrals and build a reputation of offering excellence. Referrals are an effective way to generate business without having to incur additional advertising/marketing costs. So, follow up with your clients and keep in touch with them.
- Specialize in a niche. A niche will offer significant market visibility and, over time, build a substantial customer base. For example, you might want to focus on resume strategy, employment strategy, and/or interview strategy.
- Get published with a blog or newsletter. Learn from other experienced professionals. Share your resources to enhance your credibility and develop a well-rounded customer base. Your clients will rely on the knowledge and resources that you feature in published works.
- Share your expertise. Every entrepreneur networks differently. Consider online, face to face, and via LinkedIn or social media. Develop at least 2-3 business contacts per month. Set realistic goals. The larger your network, the greater your visibility and recognition of your expertise.
- Elicit constructive feedback from clients. Inquire about receiving constructive feedback regarding your services through testimonials from clients. With permission, display testimonials on your website to showcase the results of your brand. Find ways to foster continuous improvement for excellent quality service.
- Market using multiple channels. Whether it’s a professional directory, association, or another avenue (e.g. business website or business cards), leverage both traditional and innovative mediums to gain exposure. When creating your marketing plan – short term and long term – identify and develop all channels that will lead to your targeted customer base. Consider conducting public speaking engagements, workshops, or webinars as valuable marketing tools.
- Engage in hobbies and interests in your spare time. Carve out some time to de-stress. Do activities that you enjoy such as yoga, fitness, reading, or movies. Meditate and do visualization. Go with the flow.
- Reap the benefits of entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship allows you the potential for acquiring a sense of greater stability and locus of control; you take ownership for your business success and choose your own clients. Remember that not every prospective client is “your client” – be selective. Follow your gut instincts. Monitor best practices and note what does not work as effectively as it might.
Here is a checklist for some additional ways that you can keep your brand fresh.
- Embrace small changes which lead to personal and career growth.
- Network with other career professionals; receive mentoring, but also offer to mentor.
- Share career related stories, achievements, and experiences with clients.
- Keep updated on best practices in your area of expertise.
- Get certified to boost your credibility and brand you as an expert.
- Always use a unique logo and consistent branding statement; remind clients of what you stand for.
- Realize that “brand” means more than an image – it involves a distinct reputation and values to uphold.
- Invest in your authentic brand. Develop it and nurture it. Protect it and promote it.
- Surprise your clients with something new – a new service or offering, program, or promotion that meets their changing career related needs in a competitive labour market. Introduce new career related services.
- Keep updated and aligned with changing labour market trends and career developments; understand how they impact your field and your clients.
- Continuously monitor the results of your brand.
Quintcareers offers five main tips for successful branding:
- Gain experience/track achievements – tell your brand story.
- Complete or upgrade education/training – take your skills to the next level.
- Promote yourself – develop two career portfolios – online and in print.
- Become an expert – build credibility e.g. awards, recognitions, testimonials etc.
- Build relationships – using word of mouth – leverage this highly suggested method.
- Cultivate your career brand. Strengthen and protect it.
Brands change and develop over time. We evolve with our brand. It’s important to remain authentic to your brand; cultivate it and be proud of the values that you represent through your unique brand.
Additional resources on branding: