Step back and think about the referral process from the prospect’s point of view. You have just been given the name of a financial advisor by your friend, family or colleague. The referral was a bit vague, (“he/she does investments” or “this person helped with my retirement”) and non-committal, but you decide that you will at least look the advisor up. After a quick Google search, trip to the advisor’s website and maybe a look at social media, you realize that the advisor sounds just like any other advisor you have met. Nothing special. Do you call anyway? I doubt it; what is the point?
A few weeks ago, we featured Kirk Lowe of TactiBrand in “Building Your Brand to Get Quality Referrals” (go ahead and read it again, I’ll wait). In today’s post, Kirk explains that now you’ve thought about and created a brand, it is time to prove and leverage it. He also shares 9 results that you should expect from a proper advisor brand management.
Saying you are something and being that something are two completely different things. A firm’s brand depth is measured by its ability to validate its advisor brand versus just talking about it.
Historically, the prevailing marketing mindset for financial services (and many other industries) has been, “How do we make what we do sound different/better?” and the trick was to focus on witty catchphrases and marketing copy. The opportunity to stand out from the crowd these days is to showcase your advisor brand versus simply talking about how good and different your firm is. In other words – prove it!
Aspiring financial advisors need to focus on proving they are great versus using marketing razzle dazzle to tell a story that has little or no depth. Consumers have grown weary of being sold to – you need to earn their trust through credibility and relevance.
Aside from testimonials and case studies, which aren’t allowed, you need to share your expertise with those who will find it relevant. In order to do this effectively and sustainably, you need to consider your abilities and commitment to sharing your ideas. Having worked with advisors for over 20 years now, this is one of the greatest hindrances to advisor’s success with their marketing.
Here are a few ideas for proving expertise:
- Take on a role in the community or industry that speaks to your dedication
- Conduct seminars/webinars or speak to local groups on your financial topics
- Write articles – for your blog or others
- Record your own podcast – go to KirkLowe.com for ideas
- Start a video blog – record whiteboard videos or behind-your-desk videos
- Record screen capture presentations
- Create papers, checklists, presentations, infographics
- Create video course with resources to help people plan better
Leveraging your brand is all about sharing and building on it.
Sharing your brand
Think of this as marketing – delivering your message and expertise to your world. The best way to reach your audience is to find out where they are hanging out, what they enjoy and how they prefer to be communicated with.
- What social networks do they prefer?
- Do they like emails?
- Do they like reading, listening or watching content?
- Do they like podcasts, blogs, video blogs, ask-an-expert, courses, papers or infographics?
Answer these questions and build a game plan to connect and share with them.
Building onto your brand
You might not have heard of this concept before. When you have a clear focus and story, you get more dialed into your audiences’ needs, your expertise and how to communicate with them. Having a good brand helps you add more value to your audience and your practice.
Here are several ideas to build onto your brand:
- Start a community initiative that fits with your audience and passions
- Develop new ways of thinking about financial planning and meeting your audience’s needs
- Create a financial planning or “Life After 60 Summit” in your region/town
- Add office décor that represents your brand and clients
- Create t-shirts with the valuable lessons you teach people about the discipline to be financially secure
- Create a financial wellness course for younger generations
Here’s a list of marketing tactics you can use to deliver your message:
- Blog, podcast, or video channel
- Social media networking and updates
- Social curation
- Email promotion and nurturing
- Media (press releases, guest expert, syndicated articles)
- Influencer marketing
- Online advertising (ads, social post boosts, re-targeting, SEO)
- Direct mail
- Event marketing
What outcomes should I expect?
Here are 9 outcomes you should enjoy as a result of a compelling financial brand.
1. You are viewed as different and better.
Articulate that you are different and what that difference means to your audience. At the core of a great brand is identifying what you do best (hopefully better than others) and building around that. The more “you” it is, the less likely others can duplicate it.
2. Your expertise is proven.
Make sure people understand what you know. There are many ways to establish and share your expertise. Much of your ability to do so requires you to do it on your audience’s terms – which means not in your office. You need to create and share content regularly to achieve this – papers, checklists, video, podcasts, published posts or a good blog and infographics.
3. There’s proof you know your audience.
Clarify with whom you work best and why they should pay attention to what you are saying and doing because your expertise doesn’t necessarily demonstrate that you understand your audience. Your brand needs to tie in what you know, who needs to know it and why.
4. People experience you easily.
Help people experience your approach, expertise, process, attention to detail, relationship skills, and business culture. A good brand fills your website, blog and social channels with valuable content and varied media so your audience can experience you before ever meeting you. Multimedia works best for this. A podcast or a video do a much better job of showcasing who you are and what it would be like to work with you. Let them know you before they commit to a meeting or next steps.
5. People refer you easily.
Clients, prospects and influencers would refer you without hesitation because your brand message is so compelling.
The number one reason people make referrals is to make themselves look good. When advisors’ brands are non-existent or not easily identifiable, people find it difficult to introduce them to their contacts. This seriously undermines referral generation for the average advisor. Advisors simply haven’t made it simple and compelling enough to inspire people to refer them more often – or at all.
An enhanced brand should increase referrals by at least 100% within 12 months following brand implementation.
6. You make headlines.
A compelling brand should attract media attention. When the brand is easily digestible (easy to sell their audience), niche-oriented (clearly relevant to their audience), and well-supported (easy to point people to valuable online resources), it makes them look good for finding you.
7. You see significantly improved marketing results.
I often see advisors and financial firms fail at marketing and have no idea why. It’s easy to blame the medium, the vendor, the list or even the call-to-action. But often times, it starts and ends with an advisor’s ability to share a simple and compelling story that answers, “Why you?”
Whether your campaign is email, a billboard, Facebook ads, or social media, everything you say, offer or ask for needs to be supported by an overarching statement: I’m different, I’m better, and here’s why I’m right for you. No matter how you slice it or say it, you need to be seen this way to gain traction. It’s called intrigue and your marketing needs to start and end with it.
8. You have influence.
A good brand keeps people coming back for more. Influence happens via social media channels, media and your blog, video or podcast channels. You can build it through constantly sharing valuable content and ideas that are highly relevant to their financial circumstances, personal goals, careers and families.
9. You inspire advocacy.
A great brand gets people excited to talk about you. It clarifies your unique strengths and makes it easy to direct people where they can learn more about you. A good brand gets people advocating for you to their friends, colleagues and family.
Advocacy is the pinnacle of a great financial advisory brand.
Kirk Lowe is a sought-after expert on branding for financial services, and has dedicated 15+ years to demystifying and simplifying financial marketing. He is the Chief Branding Tactician at TactiBrand, and the founder of AdvisorContentX and Financial Marketing University. He regularly shares his insights and advice on KirkLowe.com and his podcast TopAdvisorMarketing, and offers DIY marketing resources and courses at Financial Marketing University.
The opinions and views expressed herein are those of Kirk Lowe. SEI bears no responsibility for their accuracy. Kirk Lowe, TactiBrand, AdvisorContentX and TopAdvisorMarketing are not affiliated with SEI or its subsidiaries.