77% of people search you on Google and 84.3% of people check "business websites" (i.e. LinkedIn) before making a B2B purchase . This means that it has become vitally important for professional services firms to start building both brands:
- The brand of the firm
- The brand of the individuals
For years most companies have just focused on the brand of the firm which is relatively easy to achieve - but there has become an increasing importance to also build the individual brand of the fee earners as well. This is much more difficult.
Often the potential customer will be attracted to a company because of the reputation of the firm but sometimes they will be attracted to that firm because an individual has come recommended. After a recommendation, the potential buyer then (77% of the time) searches that person on Google or has a look at them on LinkedIn (84.3% of the time).
I spend a lot of time talking to lawyers, accountants and consultants about building their brand and online presence. Most of the time they will have a LinkedIn profile which is nothing more than a diluted CV. This is where there is a huge opportunity for professionals to build their own brand and catapult themselves ahead of their peers and competitors.
The opportunity is in writing blogs, insights or commentary that demonstrate to potential clients that you know all about the niche area you work in and that by hiring you they will be in the safe hands of an expert. If you can create this content on a regular basis then you can then share it to your LinkedIn profile, to relevant LinkedIn groups and to LinkedIn Pulse. Then if someone checks you out on LinkedIn they will see much more than a diluted CV telling them you are an expert at what you do - they will much more importantly see you demonstrating that you are an expert.
What also starts to happen is that your name will start jumping up the Google rankings because the one thing Google now loves is regular, expert-led, relevant content.
Writing regular thought leadership content can be difficult because everyone is too busy doing their day jobs and we are not all natural writers (keep comments to your self ed.) - but the good news is, to be the best at it in your niche might not be that difficult. The bar has been set very low. For example, in 2014, a lawyer from the top 200 UK law firms wrote an average of 0.51 blog posts. That's just one every two years! So even if you wrote just one post every month you would be 24 times better than your peers. You will also start looking like a thought leader on your niche in LinkedIn and Google and ultimately you will start building your own individual brand.
According to the 2014 State of B2B Procurement study from the Acquity Group, 94 percent of business buyers do some form of online research: 77 percent use Google search 84.3 percent check business websites 34 percent visit 3rd party websites 41 percent read user reviews