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Heather Townsend

The Excedia Group


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5 mistakes professionals commonly make when communicating their brand


1. Claim too many qualifications and specialisms

People will want to work with your fee earner because they are an expert in a subject. This assumes that you are not trying to grow a team of general practitioners. But, even with a team of general practitioners, people tend to be stronger in one particular discipline, or have access to other experts. When you someone write down a sentence of professional qualifications (and I have seen this), or talk about all 26 of their qualifications (and I have heard this), this actually damages their credibility. Of course many of your fee earners will be highly qualified – but what value to they deliver to their client? Most people will want to work with a VAT specialist if they have a complex VAT problem, not a VAT, Transfer pricing, international tax, and compliance specialist…

2. Inconsistent messages

I’ve honestly seen this (and when queried, they actually saw it as a positive) where a coach with 40 years experience in business with blue chip companies, decided to display fairly prominently on his LinkedIn profile the fact that he had been a swimming coach and life guard. Surely with 40 years experience in business, and many professional positions where he had been coaching, he had something stronger to prove his professional competence as a Coach rather than the fact he had been a swimming instructor.

The other common inconsistent message is where someone has talked themselves up to be this amazing authority in the marketplace… and then they charge well below market rate. Many people equate quality with the level of fees charged. It may not always be true, but people do expect to pay for a true expert.

3. Lack of credibility

When defining your personal brand you really need to make sure you walk your walk and talk your talk. So for example, a business coach is often required to be a mixture of coach and mentor; which means they need to understand a little about finance, running a business, marketing and branding. Therefore, seeing someone claim to be a business coach, executive coach, life coach, relationship coach and career coach on their Linkedin profile really does cast doubt on their ability to be a decent business coach. Likewise, a marketing agency who claims to have social media expertise and does not regularly maintain an engaging blog and twitter presence, is definitely not walking their walk and talking their talk. And yes, I see this regularly as well…

4. No professional photos

A personal brand is just that, personal. Therefore, don’t hide your fee earners behind their firm brand or logo. They need to be themselves, but act in accordance with the firm’s values, standards and aspirations. Do get a proper professional head and shoulder’s shot taken, and use this photo on their social media profiles.

5. No qualifying – just churning out marketing spin

How can you help your fee earners prove that they really know their stuff? What qualifies them to be the foremost expert on ….? Read through many profiles or ‘about us’ web pages and many of them are just marketing froth. How many clients in the sector have they worked with? What awards have they received?

What other mistakes do you see professionals making with their personal branding?

Heather Townsend is the driving force behind The Efficiency Coach and a co-founder of 'the executive village'
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Heather Townsend


Read more from Heather Townsend

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