If you have more business than you can handle, this article is not for you. But if you truly want to grow your firm now and into the future, here are some steps to help you get started right away.
Keep this primary rule in mind
Your HR firm has a personality, and that personality is the foundation of your brand.
Your brand is the single most powerful asset you own, and your most important tool to generate the reputation, client base, and market position that you want. It is therefore well worth the investment in time and energy to create it correctly, promote it obsessively, and protect it diligently. Remember that.
Whether you’re a team of HR professionals or a solo HR practitioner, these steps will help you get the business you deserve.
Let’s get started. Here are 7 essential steps to bring in more business:
1. Your brand
Oftentimes HR firms focus on providing quality HR services and forget about branding and marketing, which is a critical part of pulling in new business. But how do you build your brand so that it will work harder for you?
Here are some key questions to ask yourself when building or refining your brand:
- What makes your firm different from other options? The answer has nothing to do with quality work, good prices, and excellent service – those are all expected.
- What do you want to be known for? Is there one thing you know, offer or provide that is a unique specialty? Can you leverage that as an elemental distinction, to set you apart from the others?
- What key problem do you solve for your clients? Value is found in the solutions an organization delivers. What client problems are you really, really good at solving?
The key to branding is pinpointing and leveraging that authentic, unique expression of your expertise. Remember this: When your brand is intentional, strategic, and unique, it makes it easier to bring in new business. If you do not create a solid brand for your firm, the marketplace will decide what your brand should be. And when that happens, you have little or no control over what prospects think or believe about you, or how much they are willing to pay for your services. Brand your firm before someone else does!
One way to test that your brand is working correctly is to ask several clients and prospects to describe your brand in their own words, and make sure what you hear is aligned with your intention. Try it, you might be surprised.
2. Your market
Not all clients are created equally. We wish they could all be great, but the truth is, only a small fraction of prospects out there are worth doing business with. Make sure that the clients you work for are deserving of your hard work, dedication, and knowledge. And perhaps most important, that they value your time and advice.
Consider a few things when building a client base:
- Be honest and identify your ideal target clients. Create a persona. Pick the types of clients where your services will have the greatest positive impact.
- Narrow your focus. When you want to be everything to everybody, you end up being nothing to nobody. Find a niche, or a few of them.
- Look for areas that are under-served. Where can you make the greatest impact? Are there segments that need what you have to offer? Are there less crowded areas where you can be a bigger fish in a smaller pond, rather than pushing against the masses in an overcrowded space?
Once you have identified your target market, let them know you are here, ready to help them reach their goals. Do more than just say you have expertise – demonstrate it and prove it. Again and again.
3. Your website
A good website brings your brand to life. Take a fresh look at your website and ask yourself these questions:
- Does your website accurately portray your brand?
- Is your website modern, easy to navigate, and does it support you and your team?
- Is your website as professional as your firm?
- When prospects and customers visit your website, how does it make them feel?
- Does your website demonstrate confidence, professionalism, trust?
If you’re serious about attracting new business, it’s a good idea to make sure your website is working for you. There is a marketing term called “The Blink Test,” that indicates when prospects land on your website, in less than 3-5 seconds they will judge it, decide if they want to look around or leave, and determine if your company is right for their organization. Less than 3-5 seconds. Make sure your website has what it takes to keep visitors interested right away.
4. Your brand story
A well-articulated brand story will help you attract the clients you truly want to work with. Create a succinct story that includes where you came from, where you are going, and why you are different from the other options.
A powerful story will build trust and allow prospects to connect emotionally with why you are in business. Let’s say you’re an HR generalist, think about what makes you different. Do you have a special passion for human rights? Do you have proven experience working with human resource management. Do you have case studies to back up your expertise in HR policies? Think about why you do what you do. (And money has nothing to do with it.)
Tell your story to humanize your firm, so prospects feel you are authentic, knowledgeable and trustworthy. Publish your story on your website so prospects can get to know you, before they even meet with you to talk about their upcoming project.
5. What’s new?
Business is moving faster than ever. Make sure your website has a prominent place to post the latest news about your company. Let your clients and prospects know you are relevant and active. Here are three things you can get started on right away:
- Blog about current issues in HR
- Give a presentation or webinar on a trending topic
- Present your solution to an industry challenge
Make sure to promote all of your activities on your website. It’s important to keep your news events up to date and always changing, to demonstrate that you are on the move and active.
6. Become visible
Promote your brand so your target market continually sees it. Consistency sells.
- Show up at trade shows that are attended by your target market
- Attend their events
- Get invited to a round-table discussion
- Volunteer in your community
- Write blogs that address the needs of your target market, and stay up-to-date on changes in their industries
- Invite members of your target market to be a guest on your podcast series
- Network with people in your target market even if they might not currently be potential clients
7. Get Clout
Instead of telling prospects they should hire you, prove it! Getting your name in the media demonstrates that you are an HR thought leader, and a trusted resource.
When you’re quoted in the media, make sure you have a strategy in place to promote yourself. Tell your target market that you were quoted. For instance, talk it up at networking events, email your clients and prospects, blog about it on social media, post it on your website. Getting quoted in the media is an excellent reason to contact clients or prospects you may not have spoken to in some time.
Seeing your name in the media builds clout. And clout builds trust.
Getting quoted in the media can be a challenge, however we created a program that works exceptionally well for HR professionals. We call it HR Clout, and have gotten HR professionals quoted in publications that include: Forbes, Arianna Huffington’s media group, US News & World Report, Glassdoor, Chicago Tribune, American Express, SHRM, and the list goes on.