So, you’re ready to offer brand strategy services to your clients and one of the very first concepts you’ll want to learn is how to sell brand strategy right?
It makes sense.
There are plenty of businesses looking for branding services, though most are only expecting to fork out for a logo and maybe a website.
So how can you charge up to 5 times more and still get your clients to happily pay for what you’re offering.
In this article, we’ll uncover exactly that.
How To Sell Brand Strategy in 6 Step
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Learning How To Sell Brand Strategy
When I first entered the realm of brand strategy, I had no idea how to sell it.
I was offering something that was more expensive than what I believed my clients could afford and I was already struggling with clients low-balling me on price.
Those early days as a brand strategist threw up more questions than answers including:
How do I know if my client is interested in brand strategy?
How do I know if they have a budget for it?
How do I introduce brand strategy into the conversation?
How do I show the value of brand strategy?
How do I convince them I’m a branding specialist?
Why would they listen to my advice?
How to I convince them without being salesy?
How do I convert them into a paying client?
Over time, I learned the answer to all of these questions though not without plenty of head-scratching and mistakes.
In the end, I had many paradigm shifts, I learned to look at things in a different way and more importantly, I found the key to selling brand strategy, without actually selling.
This 6-Step Framework is how I do it.
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Forget Branding Services.
Your Client Wants More
One of the very first paradigm shifts you need to have when it comes to selling brand strategy is what your client wants.
Forget what they think they want or what you expect them to ask for.
Preconceived ideas are the fastest way for you to get the short end of the stick.
Take a step back and see your prospect for who they are.
They’re an ambitious business leader with hopes, dreams, and aspirations to build something bigger than themselves.
Hopefully, something that will change the course of their professional career and possibly the lives of their family.
They may come to you asking for a logo or a website or a brochure, but what they’re really looking for is help to turn their ambitious idea into a reality.
Help to build the brand they’re dreaming of.
Brand Design vs Brand Strategy
Ask any small business owner if they know where to find graphic design work and you’ll have plenty of suggested directions.
Ask them where to find a brand strategist and the suggestions probably won’t go beyond a Google search.
At the same time, you can ask any designer what branding means to them and you’ll likely get variations of “a brand is not a logo”.
So what does this mean?
There is a disconnect between branding professionals and entrepreneurs about what branding is, what it’s not and the role it plays in the success of their business.
It’s not your client’s fault.
They’re not the expert.
And as the expert, it’s your job to clarify their understanding of branding so they can make an informed decision about what they need to build a successful brand.
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Selling Design vs Selling Strategy
In order to sell design services to your prospects, you don’t need to alter their perceptions.
Chances are they know you’re a designer and that lines up perfectly with what they believe they need.
If you can deliver on their requirements and your services fall into their idea of a fair price (or what they understand design services to cost), then it’s an easy sell.
Learning how to sell brand strategy on the other hand requires some strategic groundwork and a little guidance.
The following is a 6-Step framework that you can you to sell brand strategy to your branding clients.
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Position Yourself As A Branding Specialist
Your prospect is not a branding expert.
We’ve covered that already but it’s a very important point.
You are the expert and it’s important that you assume that specialist role.
In order to do that, you must understand how to develop a brand strategy and have a solid brand strategy development framework in place.
You must also work on developing your own brand and positioning strategy to ensure that you’re not seen as an everyday generalist designer.
All your brand collateral and your marketing efforts should speak to this position and distance your brand from the other options your prospects have.
If you do this effectively and speak to your prospect through your specialist knowledge, they will make that connection quite quickly and will be grateful for your expertise.
Ask Business Related Questions
It’s not uncommon for entrepreneurs and business leaders to jump straight into design-related topics when it comes to branding.
These topics direct the conversation towards the design and away from strategy, which makes it difficult to redirect the conversation to where you want it to go.
Focus on their business and ask business-related questions.
This doesn’t just show that you’re a professional with processes, it gets your prospect talking about their passion.
Ask open-ended business-related questions that give them the flexibility to talk about what they’re most excited about.
Here are some examples
So, tell me a little about your business
What’s your experience in this industry?
Do you deal directly with customers?
Do you have any partners?
Evoke Aspirations & Ambition
Once you open up the conversation about your prospects’ business, you’re on the path to advancing the conversation towards strategy.
But before you dive in head first, you need to continue to build rapport and guide your prospect into a position where they’re open to your offer.
Emotional intelligence is a valuable tool to have in the arsenal of any communication specialist.
A great way to build rapport is to evoke their aspirations and ambition for their brand.
This opens up the internal and emotional investment they have in the success of their business and the vision of what their professional and personal lives look like on the back of that success.
If you meet their input with interest and encouragement, your empathy will go a long way to building an emotional connection and ultimately trust.
Mirror And Rephrase
Adding further empathy and connection can be achieved by a simple technique called mirroring.
By repeating and rephrasing what your prospect has said to you, you show that you share their understanding of their vision.
You don’t need to agree with everything they say at this point, you simply want to show them that you understand their idea and give encouragement where you can.
The more you clarify your understanding and show enthusiasm, the more they’ll warm to you and ultimately your advice.
Use The Epiphany Question
When you tell someone what they need, they may or may not agree.
If on the other hand, you can lead them to have an epiphany and decide for themselves what they need, then you don’t need to sell anything and they’ll ultimately pat themselves on the back for coming to that conclusion.
At this point you’ll have spoken in detail about their business and their vision for the future. They’ll have also made a connection with you personally though the empathy and encouragement you’ve shown them.
This is where you now shift the conversation from helping them with design services to helping their business succeed through strategy.
After mirroring and rephrasing what they’ve said, you’ve demonstrated clear understanding, so when you say you can help them, you’re telling them you can help them to achieve what they hope to achieve.
At this point, they’ve bought into the conversation. This is where you have most leverage and where you introduce the epiphany question.
One of the most effective epiphany questions I use is:
Do you have a clear profile on who your target audience is and the position you want to take in the market?
More than likely, they won’t have a clear answer to this question, which opens the door for you to further demonstrate your expertise.
Show The Brand Strategy Path
All of the work you’ve done up until this point has paved the way for you to have a conversation with your prospect about brand strategy and how brand strategy can help their business.
If you reflect on the beginning of the conversation before you had shown empathy, earned the trust, and demonstrated your expertise, your prospect would have been far less likely to go down this road.
If you’ve ever tried to raise the topic of brand strategy to someone in search of a logo, without a process to warm them to the idea, you likely got a cold rejection and a suggestion that if you can’t give them what they’re after, they’ll go to someone who can.
Now, the tables have turned and you have something they want or at least want to hear more about.
From here, the name of the game is not about selling but educating.
If you do your job well enough, your prospect will have another epiphany.
What they initially came to you for (design services), won’t help them to get where they need to go.
They need something else. They need brand strategy. They need your services.
Regardless of the person or industry, we all hope that we get good advice when we go looking for help.
Unfortunately that doesn’t always happen and there are people waiting to take our money whether they have what we need or not.
Your prospects want their brand to succeed.
If you have the right systems in place to help them, it’s your job to give them the right advice and help them.
If you do this well, not only will you gain a new client, they’ll be happy they were lucky enough to find you.
Are transitioning from graphic designer to brand strategist?
What are your biggest challenges when selling strategy and will you use one or all of the steps in this framework with your next prospect?
I’d love to know. Share in the comments below.
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