Creating a brand is an important way to make your business stand out, says Richard Heft, executive director of Ext. Marketing Inc. in Toronto.
It’s what people will immediately think of when searching for a service or continuing an existing relationship, adds Heft. If they are clear about the services you provide and your experience, clients will better appreciate the skills you bring to the relationship.
An engaging personal narrative, in particular, resonates broadly with clients and prospects. For example, the story of how you became a financial planner or developed a particular expertise. It’s important for clients to know your education, specialties, and how you’re going to help them build their futures.
Here are three tips to consider when creating your personal brand:
1. Promote your individual niche
Whether you offer a unique approach to working with clients or a financial planning specialization, you can create a desirable niche for yourself.
For example, if you speak regularly on dividend paying stocks and your message is consistent across your website, brochures, newsletters, and social media, you are more likely to be the first person to pop into a client or prospective client’s mind when the topic of dividends comes up.
Heft warns, however, that a singular focus can become a double-edged sword. Advisors may become too focused on only one aspect of their story, and clients may only engage them for that particular issue. “Be sure to provide a complete view of who you are, and more importantly, what you can do for your clients,” Heft says.
2. Emphasize the client experience
People generally want to know who you are as a person, but it’s also important to inform them of what kind of service they can expect. For example, your brand or personal story can explain how often you meet with clients, and which type of discussions you foster.
However, be wary of giving the impression that you are the only person on your team who can offer a particular kind of advisory experience: that could lead to clients being adamant about speaking with only you. It’s important to set the expectation that the team supports your vision and offers the same level of service, Heft says.
3. Include your team in the branding
If a brand is built around an individual, this can lead to issues around the topic of succession planning, particularly if the book hinges on your personal reputation. Clients will be less eager to work with the junior advisor who buys your book.
If you take care to build your brand around your team, Heft says, you elevate their value to your clients. This will allow you to go on vacation without repeated calls from the office, or pass your book on with ease.
This is of less concern for 25-year-old advisors building a brand based on their immediate client interactions.