Building an international profile without international travel

Marketing Director Paula Darbyshire explains how your firm can promote itself internationally without having to be physically in the room.

Lockdowns and closed borders have reshaped how we do business. With business travel likely to remain off the cards this year (and perhaps slashed more permanently from many firm budgets in the longer term), make sure your business is fully utilising all the available tools to best effect.

In this environment, how can firms looking to attract international instructions promote and grow their brand overseas?

Go digital

A silver lining of the pandemic has been the forced embrace of our new digital world. Continuing to embrace this evolution will be critical to expanding your profile. Savvy firms have already recognised that they can compete internationally without mega budgets set aside for long haul flights.

It was already feasible to reach an audience of billions with a lot less marketing spend than you would have required five or ten years ago. And even as international travel resumes, “going digital” will be a godsend for creating maximum impact with minimum spend.

Digital marketing can include anything from a strong social media presence through to running ads, joining and participating in online networks, optimising your website, or jumping on the content bandwagon. Channels like podcasts and webinars have made it easier for partners to engage with global audiences than ever before.

Branding strategy

Another area of focus for developing a presence that reaches across borders is developing a branding strategy.

One reality that the pandemic has exposed is that your firm’s “storefront” – the instant feeling prospects get from you at a glance – is currently not influenced by in-person interactions at conferences or networking events. This has hopefully generated an inward analysis of how you are perceived through your brand messaging of the items that remain accessible – your website, your social media channels, your content in other areas. Do your purpose, culture and values clearly stand out, and do they follow through consistently in your messaging so that potential clients are able to see your firm’s personality and why you are distinctive in the market?

If you haven’t got clear purpose and messaging, you are at a disadvantage because your competitors certainly do. You may find yourself overtaken by more aggressive practices that have been smart enough to identify and build a strong and focused branding strategy. Branding is key to every business; it is a very simple and cost-effective way to start getting ahead.

Content, content, content

Believe it or not, the famed “Content is King” essay from Bill Gates was shared on Microsoft’s website a quarter of a century ago.

Love or hate the phrase, the point that content is the root of all ventures remains true. And the great part is, firms now have even more opportunities to share it to information-hungry prospects, who have even more ways to absorb it and engage with you.

White papers and blogs, opinion pieces and articles placed in industry publications can still be a cost-effective method of showcasing expertise to a broad and international audience. To obtain best value from these often time-consuming activities, make sure that content is also repurposed and amplified through your digital reach. Create a conversation on LinkedIn using a thought leadership piece to generate discussion. Develop a podcast for your firm where you can explore new and creative ways to host fascinating conversations, highlighting your expertise and brand.

Professional services firms sit on a gold mine of facts, opinions, innovations, and ideas. Exploring and amplifying these make clients feel you’re really adding value to the service they get, and it’s a tremendous way to start building a specialist reputation overseas, as well as domestically.

Awards and submissions

Rankings and accolades from the leading publications all contribute to creating a profile. Don’t dismiss these as industry-only reputation builders because they can have a very positive impact beyond the legal and accountancy sector too.

International prospects less familiar with the competitive landscape in your jurisdictions will frequently consult these as global industry standards for comparative analysis. Not only will your firm name appear as an award winner or ranked firm alongside other exceptional practices but the marketing benefit from being able to quote wins and rankings on your website is huge.

To find out how we help firms develop international growth strategies, get in touch.

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