This issue of The Friedman File is a bit different. First, we are proud to share our brand new web site with you: www.friedmanpartners.com, especially the section that houses this newsletter. However, instead of sending an announcement, I want to share our process, and offer five takeaways that you can put to work in your own firm’s marketing efforts.
Over the last several years, Friedman & Partners has evolved and expanded service offerings, amassing a broader portfolio of consulting and executive coaching on growth strategies for AEC and environmental consulting firms. Like many firms, our web site has been slow to keep up and was not communicating that as well as it could. It was time for a reboot.
Since Friedman & Partners has been involved in marketing content strategy and development for many years, I’ve seen firsthand the challenges and roadblocks that arise with branding, marketing and web site development. So, it was an interesting experience to sit on the other side of the fence. Here’s what I learned:
Lesson One: Opportunity costs are real, and even those of us who know this can be tempted to overlook them.
For every hour that a CEO, seller-doer or highly billable technical expert spends in the weeds of marketing content development, they are giving up an hour doing their most critical work. I see firm leaders do this all the time, and yet, given my background, it was still tempting to add writing web content and managing the project to my plate. However, that decision would have come with serious opportunity costs. Instead, I took a more hands-off approach, and brought in an experienced colleague, Sally Anne Giedrys of Artisan Communications, to guide content strategy and development, liaise with designers and keep the project moving. That allowed me to provide content through interviews, provide resources, review progress and remain focused on the work that only I can do.
Lesson Two: Truly identifying and leveraging your firm’s strengths and differentiators requires objectivity and new perspectives.
Outside perspective is critical when trying to articulate your firm’s true differentiators. Without it, most firms default to touting great service and high-quality work, leaving them sounding just like the competition. One tool we used to get a read on this is the Fascination Advantage Assessment®, a personal brand assessment for individuals and teams that is designed to help clarify how you show up in the world so that you can leverage your natural points of effectiveness. This tool was particularly eye-opening because it validated and expanded on what I knew about my own leadership and client service style and how Friedman & Partners does business. It also sparked new language to articulate those differentiators and ideas about the visual style that would fit our brand.
Lesson Three: Clients do not read minds. One of the more important roles that your web site should play is to help clients understand the many ways in which you can help them.
Our new site had to more effectively communicate how we help companies devise and implement a variety of growth strategies, as well as our unique approach to doing that. We wanted to be clear that our sweet spot is not crafting the 20,000-foot high-level strategic vision or focusing narrowly on business development, it’s partnering with firms as they formulate strategies to execute a growth vision and successfully implement them.
To do that, we spent time upfront getting clear on messaging, positioning and how we do what we do. We also drilled down in the Services web pages to identify all consulting, coaching, training and speaking offerings and how they tie together. It was equally important that we speak with a voice and personality that honestly reflects what it’s like to work with us. By the time that we moved on to design and technical decisions, our design/development team had close-to-final content and a solid idea of what we wanted to achieve.
Lesson Four: A system for collecting client feedback is invaluable for improving project delivery. It’s also priceless in helping communicate effectively to potential clients.
We practice what we preach in conducting client research and gathering feedback from clients to learn about their needs and experiences. This paid off in that, when it came time to develop the web site, we already had a foundation of actual client language and experience to reference. We knew, in their own words, what they value, what they’re looking for, and what they identified as highlights of their client experience. This saved time since we didn’t need to collect that data, but since it was gathered over time, it also provided a more accurate picture of our market.
Lesson Five: You don’t always need to reinvent the wheel.
Another lesson learned—and one where I’ve seen many firms get stuck— is that you don’t always need to reinvent the whole wheel. In keeping with the marketing philosophies that we espouse at Friedman & Partners, we took a good hard look at our existing content and the thought leadership we’ve built in 10 years of writing The Friedman File. Much of that was repurposed or enhanced for the new site, alongside new content. More recently, we’ve been using LinkedIn as a repository for newer content and client success stories. Now, that’s been integrated into the web site.
We also knew how readers like to interact with this newsletter. Some of you share our articles with your colleagues, send us feedback and ideas, save articles to refer back to or write us wanting to know more. So, we’ve reinvented the section of our web site that houses The Friedman File with that in mind. Articles are now archived in a way that is easily searchable, categorized by topic and shareable. That article on BD that gave you an idea or the case study that would now be relevant to your management team? You can find it all here — http://www.friedmanpartners.com/the-friedman-file/ — and bookmark it for easy reference.
I hope you take a moment to stop by our new site and have a look around. I’d also love to hear what you’d like to see covered in an upcoming The Friedman File. Share your ideas with me at firstname.lastname@example.org or (508) 276-1101.