Episode 146 – Brand Building in a Professional Service Firm – Member Case by Chad Prinkey

Your brand matters. In the professional service industry, Founders need a brand for the firm, the service offering, themselves, and their talent. This session will explain how brands are built inside small service firms, and how they help boutiques punch above their weight class.


Greg Alexander [00:00:10] Hi, everyone. This is Greg Alexander, the host of the Pro Serv Podcast brought to you by Collective 54, the first community dedicated to the boutique professional services industry. On today’s episode, we’re going to talk about brand building inside of a boutique professional services firm, and I’m joined today by someone who’s done quite a nice job with this. He’s a Collective 54 member. His name is Chad Prinkey. Chad, would you please introduce yourself and your firm to the audience? 

Chad Prinkey [00:00:45] Sure. Thanks for having me, Greg. It’s a pleasure to be here. I am the founder of a consulting firm that focuses only on the construction industry. It’s called Well Built Construction Consulting, and we’ve been around now for coming up on three years. 

Greg Alexander [00:01:07] Congratulations! All right. So the reason why I wanted to have you on the show is we had spoken. You told me about a lot of things that you were doing to build the brand of your young firm. So I’ve got some questions here that I’d like to kind of run you through. The first one would be, you know, step one in building a brand is identifying your target audience. So tell us a little bit about how you did that. 

Chad Prinkey [00:01:31] Yeah, so what I know about our target audience, and I should be clear that I was, I’ve had this experience from doing what I do at a different firm, different meeting, different day, Greg. We could talk about what happened there, but at a, at a different firm that I, that I chose to leave a couple of, you know, I guess three years ago for. So I’ve had exposure to this market for the better part of 15 years. The market that I serve. So what I’ve learned about that market is that there are three different categories of potential customer. They’re on the small end, there are customers, potential customers for us that have under 50 employees, and these are contractors, general contractors or subcontractors, that have under 50 employees who when they hire us, it’s make or break. This is a big spend and it’s a lot of stress and pressure on the business. And they are really stretching to make ends meet when they bring us in. On the on the top end, there are companies with a thousand or more employees, and these are our organizations that really don’t need us for our full suite of services because they handle so much of what we really do, which, you know, in-house. They own this capacity internally. So our sweet spot really lies in between 50 and 1000 employee contractors, general contractors, and subcontractors, who can make the most use of our service, which is a fractional chief strategy officer offering, where we’re helping them to go to market. We’re helping them to address all the items in their business from really from A to Z, from in every silo, you know, in a strategic planning context, improving the business across every aspect of it. So if they are under 50 employees, we can have a massive impact, but it’s such a scary spend that it’s a dangerous it’s a dangerous spot for us to be in, a dangerous spot for them to be. Okay over the 51 employee mark, they really start to get and feel comfortable with what we’re going to deliver. And it’s not a small investment, but it’s not scary to them. So that’s our target audience. 

Greg Alexander [00:04:17] Okay, very good. So now that we understand the target audience and how you selected and that was very well articulated and that’s part of the brand-building process, you know, there’s different seduction tactics to reach the audience, and I know that that you’ve done a few a book, you do some speaking, you’re involved in some associations. So could you kind of explain to the audience what you’re doing to seduce that target audience? 

Chad Prinkey [00:04:39] I believe in authority marketing. I believe in the idea of positioning yourself as the go-to group for what you do. And one of the things, your listeners may be asking themselves, you know, geez, you know, here’s this consulting firm that’s focused on this really, really narrow aspect of the market. It’s over 40,000 companies that fit that description in the United States. And, you know, so for me, that’s more than I could ever hope to service. And what I found in my personal experience is that when you are trying to appeal to do broad an audience, they have a very difficult time finding you. Mm hmm. So when you’re talking about here’s how to be the best in selling, you blend in with a massive group of people who are selling that same message. But when you narrow that down to say, here’s how you can bring in three new general contractor clients this year that fit your target perfectly. There’s a very narrow group of people who that is focused, too. And they all care. They’re all they’re all really interested in that. So anyway, to answer your question, maybe a little bit more directly. Content–content creation Adding free value. From my perspective, I’ve never felt bad giving away great ideas. 

Greg Alexander [00:06:22] And I understand you’ve got a book. Is that correct? 

Chad Prinkey [00:06:25] A book is coming out, so the book is complete. We’re going through the publishing process, and we should be releasing probably by the time this drops in back. Something along those lines, though, like November. December. 

Greg Alexander [00:06:36] Okay, great. And then you’re doing some speaking. 

Chad Prinkey [00:06:39] I do a lot of speaking, Yeah. I averaged two speaking engagements a month between live events and virtual events. And that you mentioned associations, Greg, that ties in is that what I found is that inside the industry that I serve, there are associations that are desperate to provide valuable content to their members, and I’m there to help to fill that need. And it provides a fantastic, you know, receptive audience for me as well. There are just dozens and dozens of associations. Yeah. In the construction industry. So I’m partnered with many of those. 

Greg Alexander [00:07:21] You know, it’s a perfect tactic for you since you believe in authority marketing. The associations have built the audience. They need the content, and you come in with the authority. I mean, it’s just it’s hand in glove there. Makes a ton of sense. You know, let’s talk about positioning, because positioning is part of brand building. And sometimes small firms like our community, yours, young firms, they have a hard time making room for their brand. And the way that they do that in the in the mind of the prospect. That’s what I mean by making room. Freeing up mindshare that you can occupate, they have to reposition the bad guys, the competition. All right. So I know you have a long history in this industry and you’re new yourself with your firm. So how have you repositioned the bad guys and made yourself sound different? 

Chad Prinkey [00:08:11] Number one by a long shot is emphasizing the fact that this is all we do. There are folks who have construction industry practices, practice areas with one person who’s heading that up, who’s, you know, doing their best to try to appeal to that market. But if you dig deeper, you might actually find them marketing to software as well and financial services as well. And that’s our number one positioning strategy is the only people we’re talking to are you, and you are the hero. And don’t you deserve somebody who understands that? 

Greg Alexander [00:08:49] I love that. 

Chad Prinkey [00:08:51] We understand the villains that you face and we’re helping to slay those dragons with you every day. Yep. The other thing that we do is we stand for positive change in the building industry. So we are actively involved with all measure of diversity initiatives, of attempts to drive more progressive delivery methods, which that shock of shoptalk now. But the other two attempts to drive meaningful technological change and business process change. And we’re joining we are joining in voice with some of our competitors as we do that, and we actually will talk about, I think another one of our positioning statements, actually, now, the thing about it, Greg, is that we’re we’re the good guys in this industry. And if our competition is trying to make the industry a better place, well, then they’re our friends, too. Yeah. And and they don’t talk about us that way, which I think also sticks out. 

Greg Alexander [00:10:04] Yeah, for sure. I mean, it’s often overlooked, but if you’re advocating for the industry that your prospects and clients are in, then you’re on the right side of the argument, right? And you’re going to get some positive rub-off because you’re advocating for the industry. And the general positioning idea there is that if it’s good for the industry, it’s good for me. You know, we’re all going to win here. And sometimes industry participants don’t don’t do that. You know, they might even, I don’t know, say negative things about the industry. All they do is talk about everything that’s wrong about the industry. And then they talk poorly about the competitors in the industry. To rise above that and occupy a spot as kind of a brand ambassador on behalf of the client is a wonderful spot to be in, and it sounds like that’s just the spot that you occupied, which is pretty amazing given the fact he’s only been doing this for three years. 

Chad Prinkey [00:10:54] Yeah, again, I well, I have found is that it’s relationships. It all comes down to credibility. Yeah. And fortunately enough, I have, you know, many years of credibility that I’m able to, you know, build on from having developed a comprehensive relationship set over a long time. So thankful I’m able to pull on that. It’s kind of like I’m cheating. I’m not really, I’m not really brand new. Yeah, that makes. 

Greg Alexander [00:11:20] So let’s talk about credibility. Buying professional services is difficult because it’s an intangible. It’s not like you can take it out for a test drive or try it on in a dressing room. You know, ultimately, you’re asking a client to take a leap of faith when they hire you and you have to establish trust. So what stands in for as a proxy for a product sample or a product demo, because we don’t have that in services, is credibility. And you’re asking them to trust you based on your proof points. How, what are you doing around credibility to, you know, get those clients to make that leap of faith and trust you even though they haven’t been able to taste your wares, so to speak? 

Chad Prinkey [00:12:10] I haven’t been able to get the full benefit of the book, but I believe that’s going to be a game changer in that area when it comes to reaching well outside my current market area. What I can speak to in my current market area, which is really easy, is that we deliver phenomenal results for companies everybody wants to be like. Hmm, And that’s the easiest game in the world. McKinsey, I think, has always held this position that I can’t imagine holding, but I have the utmost respect for what they’ve done. But McKinsey holds this position that they never talk about who their clients are. But I think anybody who knows that. McKinsey, right, they don’t need to talk about it because other people do. And so that makes it big, you know, so here’s here’s my point, is that what I am able to do is I’m able to use lightning rod names that I’ve been fortunate enough to not only be affiliated with, but to have raving fans inside who will say, listen, and I literally have a testimonial to this effect is, you listen, if you want to build a better construction company and you’re not our competition, I highly recommend that you do this. You’d be crazy not to, and that that in in the market in which you serve, just I think most industries are like this. Construction I know for sure is very much like this. They all know each other. Yeah. And it’s on a regional and local level in particular. And so inside our home base market, which is DC. Inside our home base market, we are closely affiliated with names people want to be, and what is really nice is when we’re meeting our target audience, our target audience is often saying like, we would really like to work with you guys, but I’m not sure I can afford it. If you work with X or Y or Z, we’re nowhere near those guys. And then I’m able to come back and say they weren’t really there always either. Yeah. So the good news is we’re we’re priced perfectly to fit you guys and let’s talk about that. 

Greg Alexander [00:14:35] Yeah, I mean, what a perfect spot to be from a brand perspective. My last question is a little bit more tactical, and that’s around naming, you know, naming the firm, naming the service, naming the methodology, naming the book, etc.. So tell us a little bit about the name of your firm, how it was chosen, was that part of the brand strategy, etc.? 

Chad Prinkey [00:14:58] There is it was absolutely part of the brand strategy. And there’s there’s there’s an inspiration that I had for this. In a construction firm based out of Kansas City that is not a client. I would love to at some point, but they’re in that not they’re too big to take advantage of our core service. But we could do a lot of business with this company named JE Dunn is the name of the business and they’re an awesome, well-respected general contractor that does work nationwide and they have done a beautiful job. I noted they did this beautiful job with weaving, Dunn, D-U-NN, in their world, but “Dunn” into all of their, yeah, it’s like everything they have is branded “Dunn,” so it’s like this Dunn right or this, you know, Dunn It’s great. And and and I always loved it. I always thought that it’s an example I’ve used multiple times when working with my clients, like, I’m going to pull up a website. I want you to think about how we can do this with your brand, and how we can how we can really create consistency across all of your brand with with how we name things. So when I selected Well Built, it was to be able to say We do. We create Well Built construction companies, Well Built project teams, well-built estimating apartments, Well Built project teams I’m sorry, project management departments, well built, business development. Well, you know, all these different things that we can do. It all attaches to our idea of everything we do is Well Built and what were what we’ve done, what we’re doing. I shouldn’t say what we’ve done right. It’s it’s always a process. But I, I see signs that have me excited that when we talk to our clients, they will say we are a Well Built company. Yeah. And they’re proud of that. They’re proud of being able to say we’re a well-built company, which means we’re following the principles that our consultant teaches us. Yeah. 

Greg Alexander [00:17:00] Absolutely brilliant. I mean, it’s the ways you can use that are so broad, yet so targeted for your industry that you’re serving. It’s it’s just and we’ll talk about this when we have a Q&A, but that’s what’s called this brand architecture, which a name is part of. And it allows for an umbrella approach that Chad is using very, very well. So. Well, Chad, it’s so great to have you in the membership. Today’s session was really interesting. The private Q&A session I’m going to have with the members is going to be even more interesting because members will be able to ask you questions directly. But on behalf of the membership, just thanks for being part of our group. Thanks for contributing today. We very appreciate it. Thank you. 

Chad Prinkey [00:17:45] Thank you. Thanks for all you do and for what you and your team are putting out there. I very much needed what Collective 54 brought to the table when I first joined and the value continues to build, so thank you. 

Greg Alexander [00:17:59] Thank you. All right. So three calls to action for listeners. So if you’re a member, look out for the invitation that’s coming so that you can attend Chad’s Q&A session. I’m sure you got a million questions for him. If you’re not a member, but you want to be, go to Collective54.com, fill out an application. The application review committee will take a look at it and get back in contact with you, and if you’re not ready for either of those two things and just want to educate yourself further, go to Amazon and check out my book, The Boutique How to Start Scale and sell a Professional Services Firm. But until next time, I wish you the best of luck is to try to grow, scale and exit your firm.