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Professional Service Brands

Jonathan Fitzgarrald and Cheryl Hodgson begin a series of conversations on professional service brands.   The purchasing decision may well be a matter of strong relationships.  How are yours faring? (Transcript provided.)

Brand Conversation: Jonathan Fitzgarrald (Greenberg Glusker) and Cheryl Hodgson (Hodgson Legal): Part 1

CH: I’m here with Jonathan Fitzgarrald, Chief Marketing Officer of Greenberg Glusker, a Century City law firm. Jonathan is also the author of a blog that’s widely followed called “Bad for the Brand” in which he discusses issues pertaining to personal brands, including service brands.

Jonathan, what is it about building a professional service brand that is more difficult than dealing with a consumer brand?

JF: With consumer brands, all of us can immediately see the product that’s being sold and it’s not the sales person who’s responsible necessarily for selling us or winning over the purchase, it’s the product that we’re buying. With professional services, we look at the professional as the intangible product. It’s the person who is delivering the service, it’s the person that we can engage with, and because none of us are alike, it makes that individual kind of a moving target. So, if I was in a consumer’s company and I was selling the same (or marketing the same) car, it’s the same product to a varied audience. With professional services, now all of a sudden I’ve got one individual product for many and it makes it a moving target that’s very difficult to manage and to market.

CH: I think we as service professionals (Attorneys and CPAs), the first instinct is to stand up and say “Well, I’m a better Attorney” or “I provide more…”

JF: “…I’m smarter, I have better education, I have better contacts, better resources.” I hear it from everybody.

CH: And we all know that in the end sometimes the competitors (our competitors) who may be less intelligent and less smart, and less whatever, end up being more successful. And what is it that they know that the rest of us don’t?

JF: I think ultimately – particularly within professional service brands – the purchasing power comes down to the relationship. As a purchaser of legal services, I have no idea how smart of an Entertainment Attorney you are. You look the part, you say all the right things, you’ve got all the right education and experience credentials: I automatically assume that you can do anything within Entertainment. So this idea of being “great” or “excellent” means nothing to the purchaser of the legal service. So what I’m more interested in is the emotion that you create when I’m around you. Do I like hanging out with you, can I see myself working with you day-in and day-out on a professional basis? Will you take my calls, will you be accessible, will you be responsive to all of my inquiries? That’s what’s most important to me.

CH: Well that brings forwards two words we’ve discussed between us which is: being relevant and being relatable.

JF: Yes.

CH: Relatability is whether or not the potential purchaser of your services can relate to what you’re doing and whether the services (or how you approach them) is relevant for what they need.

JF: Well then I think that’s really the way to combat professional service marketing, is by taking professionals through an activity or an exercise that helps them to be more relatable to the people that they serve. And whether it’s an age issue, a demographic issue, or a practice issue, each of us has to find something unique about us that is of value to the people that we’re serving so that when they think of us, when that email comes in or that call comes across our phone and they see our name, they immediately think of something that is positive and of value to them.

Thanks Jonathan. Stay tuned for Part 2.

By Cheryl L.Hodgson

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