The financial adviser space is a crowded space. There are lots of advisers chasing after a relatively small number of new clients. So how do you stand out from the crowd and get your brand to punch above its weight? This article sets out 10 steps to help you do some early planning to build a stronger brand for 2013 and beyond within 3 main themes.
Build a Clear Message
Know what your value is to clients
First of all, know what you’re good at and build your story around this. What is it that makes you excellent, that clients really value? This is your value proposition. Spend time building this into a story that you can articulate succinctly, consistently and excellently.
Be clear what makes you different
Apart from what you’re great at, what makes you different? Is it your expertise in a particular product area or your experience in a particular market segment? Maybe a particular aspect of your service enables you to stand apart from other advisers or maybe it’s as simple as your geographical location offering you advantages over other advisers in terms of your availability to your clients.
Spend time thinking about what makes you different, write it down and hone this message. Yes, independence is a huge asset (for brokers) and education is a great differentiator for CFP’s. However you need to think beyond these (very important) factors and identify what makes you stand out from the crowd.
Have opinions…. and air them
It’s easy to stay quiet and just read everything that’s going on around you – either in newspapers, blogs or through other social media channels. You only have to look at the Qualified Advisers Group on LinkedIn, a fantastic group that now has nearly 1,400 members. However I bet less than 10% of them have ever participated in a group discussion or indeed possibly ever shared any update through LinkedIn.
Your clients and prospective clients want to know what you think, they want to know that you have a voice! They won’t always agree with you, but that’s fine too. Often that will result in a conversation that can lead to a better understanding of each other and a stronger relationship. Be brave!
Spend time building up a stock of messages that you can then feed out to your audience.
Don’t forget traditional marketing methods
The world has gone digital, particularly when it comes to communications as the online world offers low cost opportunities to get your message out. However don’t forget the role that traditional channels offer. PR still offers enormous benefits, as 80% of adults in Ireland are still regular newspaper readers. This is only a 2% decline on the same period last year, according to the Joint National Readership Survey (JNRS) in August 2012. Articles written by journalists carry a lot of weight as they are seen as independent validation so if you have relationships with any, work them hard!
Also don’t forget the power of a good seminar as this gives you an opportunity to meet your clients and hopefully knock their socks off with an excellent presentation.
Go online too
I mentioned LinkedIn earlier, which offers great opportunities. Please see a previous blog post I wrote on how to use LinkedIn. Twitter is a very engaging, nearly even addictive platform I find, and is also being used really well by a number of financial advisers. This is an area I’ll come back to in a future article. And then there are blogs and newsletters – the opportunities to get your message out there are endless. All of these channels are free, however the flip side of this is that they take time and commitment. If you’re not going to give them both, hire someone who will!
Use all channels (eg video)
After that, mix it all up a bit. Some people react much better to visual messages than written messages and this is where video can play a role – it’s also so much easier to produce and distribute nowadays. While quality is important, some people don’t engage with this medium until they believe they can nearly win an Oscar! The message needs to be 100% right, the quality of production needs to be good but spending €1,000’s on getting it perfect in my view is not necessary. Use the time and money to develop a stream of fresh, good quality video content rather than a single masterpiece.
Leverage all partnerships
You’ve probably spent ages working on building up relationships with introducers of business, other business groups or other types of associations. Are there positive brand benefits that you can leverage from association with their brands or indeed co-branded opportunities?
Personalise your brand
So now hopefully you’re having more conversations with prospective clients. Ensure the client experience is consistent, every time and with everyone in your company. Clients want a personal touch and they want you to have empathy with them. They want you to be available to them and above all else, they want to trust you, to feel that it is their interests that you have at heart. Never let these values slip – ever.
Understand the role service plays
You can talk all you like about the values of your organisation and the value you bring to clients. Make sure though that you can deliver them. There is nothing more disappointing than a brand that over-promises and under-delivers. We’ve all suffered them and won’t go back for more.
Talk about your value proposition
Going back to the first point, your value proposition needs to become part of every conversation with a prospective client (your elevator pitch) and into your first meeting with them. It needs to be discussed, demonstrated and given to them. They need to be left in no doubt as to why they should be dealing with you!
These are some ideas to help you build your brand in 2013 and beyond. I hope you put some of them into practice or better still, get me to help you do it!
All observations / comments / fundamental disagreements are most welcome. Please leave them in the comments section below.