What Is It We Do That Has the Largest Impact on Business?
Your employer’s reputation is based on what? Its website? A 2017 survey revealed that only 12.2% of AEC firms feel that its website has the most impact on business. As far as I am concerned, a website has very little impact on a firm’s business. A website is simply the ante for playing the game.
So then, what has the greatest impact on the firm’s business? The same survey reports that 29.9% of firms feel that speaking engagements are #1 and 21.9% feel that conferences and trade shows are #1. So, what are we really talking about when we saying “speaking” and “trade shows”?
For both of these activities aren’t we talking about the firm’s employees? And not all of them. Just the ones speaking and attending these events? These are the employees who are highly visible throughout the industry. This are the firm’s Visible Experts.
So, if we continue the logic this might also cause us to believe that these same persons are the magnets who attract all the business for the firm. But in reality, this is not accurate. While they likely do generate a lot of business for the firm they have a much broader and deeper impact.
Visible Experts Generate a Halo Over the Entire Firm
Within your own firm can you think of employees who actively contribute to booking new business? If they are not highly visible how do they do this? They do this because the Visible Experts have imparted a Halo Effect on the firm. Let’s examine how this happens.
It is likely your firm started with one to three principals, each of whom had positive industry reputations. Business flowed to the firm because of who they were. Those persons were known experts. Thus, we have the term Visible Experts.
So now the firm is 100, 500 or 10,000. Who are the employees in the firm who are broadly known in a positive way in the industry? Make a list and write one sentence to describe their fame.
Now, how about the firm’s reputation as a whole? How closely does that reputation mirror those employees you just summarized? I’ll bet the reputations are the same. Those employees collectively contribute a “Halo Effect” on the company. This makes it much easier for everyone in the firm to contribute to sales because of the aura cast on the firm by the Halo.
This also works in reverse. Can you name several mediocre firms? How does your perception of the firm compare with their key personnel? Probably the same too.
Those employees are like a tree with large thick branches. They cast a shade on the company’s reputation. Those companies can sometimes endure, but their performance is never good.
We often think of employees’ contributions as they relate to their defined role without consideration for how they might contribute to the firm in other ways. What if you created a program for each of your experts to turn them into Visible Experts? It would likely be the least cost, highest impact program you every deployed.
How a Halo Factory Is Created
What might such a program look like? Here is one approach I employed. I gathered my team and lead a discussion about the benefits of being visible and the barriers that get in the way. One barrier was time. The other was knowledge of how to create, re-purpose and distribute thought leader communications. My program eliminated both of these barriers.
I told everyone that a good way to be recognized by their peers, receive top bonus’s and enjoy admiration from their family, was to be visible. And, to help them achieve visibility I would retain a Digital Marketing Copywriter for anyone who identified a topic and would schedule an hour to be interviewed by the copywriter.
This worked like a charm. From that point forward many from my team brought me ideas based on their projects or interests. The copywriter met with each, drafted their article, contacted editors for print publications, submitted abstracts for conferences, and created pieces for LinkedIn, Twitter and Blog posts. They also received assistance with presentation content and rehearsals.
This approach proved not only good for revenue and profitability, but for staff’s self confidence and energy. This was a win-win and it really didn’t cost the firm much. In a flat economy, revenue grew over $3 million in the first year. Profits quadrupled to 22%.
Build Your Own Halo Generator
The strategy I am laying out for you is one whose goal is to achieve the biggest and brightest halo. The rate at which you generate visible experts will drive the halo’s intensity. The resulting “glow” will excite your staff and improve business through growth, more sole source business, higher margins, higher billing rates, and higher quality pursuit teaming.
Start your program by examining your internal experts and assessing their visibility. Then, work with a “Visibility Expert” who is usually a copywriter who understands both print and digital marketing methods. Don’t stop here. Make sure you provide a process and support for tracking leads, building relationships, and identifying new business opportunities.