I had lunch today with a woman who is co-owner of a venture capital firm. We were meeting to discuss a philanthropic idea I have about financial education. But as women comrades in business, we talked shop first – how’s your business going? What have you been doing? What’s the latest success or challenge – besides money? As we talked, we exchanged stories about how we thought we were doing with customers – do they know about our skills and products? Are we providing them what they want? Is it a simple message, easy to remember? Is it focused?
I felt a little deflated as I left lunch because I realized I didn’t have good answers to all of her questions. She asked me practical, logical questions – how did I let potential customers know what I could do? Did I speak to my customers? Did I investigate what they really needed? How am I gaining visibility as a viable alternative when the large consulting firms have such branding and marketing power on their side? And I confess – it is a struggle.
When I was an internal HR practitioner, I worked with many of the top HR consulting firms as a client. I met many consultants who I really respected. And I also experienced consultants that were not worth the $5-600 per hour I paid for them. But branding is very powerful – it creates a halo effect over those associated with it. So I ask you – how’s your HR branding? Do you struggle for visibility or have you branded your services as strategic and astute. HR professionals have their own gigantic competitor – it’s our past reputation. In order for us to rise up and become visible, we have to work a little harder to get our customers’ attention – both internal and external.