Branding the Financial Advisor – For Independents Only
Bland. That’s the brand most financial advisors have created for themselves. And I can’t blame you because compliance and broker dealers have limited the independent advisor from creating a brand of value.
Hello. I’m Suzanne Muusers, a Branding Coach for Financial Advisors since 2004. What I want for you is an attractive brand that will help you grow and expand your practice.
My Gold Marketing Rule: Don’t be bland with your brand!
The goal for this article is to give you new ideas for how to brand your practice. We’ll look at what’s considered bland, how to figure out what’s different about you, we’ll review a branding checklist, and then we’ll decide which branding tools to utilize.
Who is this article for? Financial planners, investment advisors, wealth managers, and those interested in creating a professional brand that will set them apart in the industry.
Note: Please be willing to invest in your brand so that you are different from other advisors. I have met far too many financial advisors who are not willing to make the investment in creating a financial advisory practice of value. Sometimes this means BEING UNIQUE, taking a stand on an issue, going against the grain, or being creative. Creating a brand is an investment in your business. Never forget that.
If you expect your clients to give you hundreds of thousands of dollars to invest, then YOU MUST INVEST IN YOUR BRAND!
Let’s look at an example of a bland brand: "My name is Ken and I’m a financial advisor with XYZ Company. I help everyone with anything to do with investing. If you need help with your finances, give me a call."
Are you suppressing a yawn? I know I am. The goal for your personal brand is to be memorable. You’ve got to stand out from the crowd. You can’t be memorable if you sound like everyone else.
So, what’s different about you?
- Are you well-credentialed? Do you have advanced credentials such as the CFP, ChFC, or CIMA?
- Expert at something specific?
- Do you have your own unique investment strategy that you can brand?
- Well educated?
- Have you lived abroad?
- Unique business model? Fee only?
- What services do you offer that are unique?
- What is your unique outlook on investing?
- Do you specialize in a specific client niche? Do you specialize in working with women? Business owners? Families? Corporate executives?
- What charities have you worked with?
- Any family history that is of note?
Once you decide how you’re different, what do you do?
Here’s a Branding Checklist:
Your Company Name
Client Service Experience
Business Corporate Identity
Ideal Client Profile
Branded Business Cards
Your Company Name: This is a great place to start. If you’re going to invest in your brand, decide if your company name really personifies your true value or you’ll be spending big bucks to brand an entity that does you no justice. Signs that you may need to consider changing your name: your company is named after you; your company name is bland; there are many companies nationwide or internationally that have your name; your company name does not fall in line with your Value Proposition (see below). I have the tools to help you with this.
Elevator Speech – Create a memorable elevator speech that talks about what you do best and what makes you unique. I can help you do this. You can also use my template here.
Value Proposition: Develop a marketing piece that details what it is you provide the client in terms of BENEFIT from THEIR PERSPECTIVE. It’s all about what makes you different, your skills, and the knowledge you have that would make people want to work with you. I have all the tools to work with you in developing your Value Proposition.
Branded Financial Planning or Investment Management Process: Create a trade-marked and branded program that is all about your unique way of working with clients. It could be your intake process, your investment management process, or the unique way you work with clients. Create an Infographic to explain your process. I help you brainstorm and come up with your branded process.
Client Service Experience: Financial Planning and Wealth Management are not tangible products that you can hand to someone. When a service is not tangible, you must find a way to brand it and make it more tangible by using a one page explanation of the benefits. I have the tools to help you do this.
Tagline: Come up with a tagline that adequately explains the benefits you provide your clients. Make it short and zippy and tie it into how you’re different. I help you brainstorm and develop your tagline.
Business Corporate Identity: Hire an experienced professional to like me to help you design your brand. This is an investment in your financial wealth and your future. You can’t attract quality clients if you’re using a standard, stock design. Quality design attracts quality clients. That’s what my designer has always told me and it’s TRUE. Take your new identity and carry it through your entire business from your biography, brochure, website, and business cards, all the way throughout your business office decor using similar colors and styles in your office furniture and decorations. With my help, we can develop your identity.
Ideal Client Profile: Attracting affluent clients means not taking anyone and everyone as clients. Once you get clear about the kind of clients you would like to work with, something magical happens. You start attracting them! I help you create this profile which you can display on your website.
Downloadable Brochure: Create a custom brochure that tells your personal story using your Value Proposition. Provide the brochure on your website so that prospects can download it and save it to their own computers. Have print copies of your brochure for hand delivery to clients and prospects and as a way of introduction to centers of influence. I have the expertise to help you with this deliverable.
Branded Business Cards: Create a custom business card with design elements so that it matches your downloadable brochure and other marketing materials. Design your card front and back to take advantage of the "real estate" on the back of the card. The key is to tie everything together so that it’s memorable and creates a nice "package." When working with me, I ensure that you use your tagline on the front of your business card to drive home the benefit of working with you.
Custom Website: There are two types of sites: templates and custom. It’s perfectly fine to start out with a template site developer who specializes in the financial industry, but after a year or two I strongly recommend using a custom designer who knows how to use search engine optimization. This can help you attract clients from anywhere – why be focused on a narrow geographic area when the world is your oyster?
Another reason I like custom sites is that I prefer that my clients to pay for their website once, not ongoing for years to come. Paying for your site monthly, ongoing, is a waste of money. It is my firm belief that template websites do nothing for you while giving you a site that is exactly the same as all your competitors. Read more here about why I prefer custom websites.
If you follow this branding checklist you will attract quality clients who seek you out to do business with you. You will create an image and identity of trust and competence. Practice my Gold Marketing Rule: Don’t be bland with your brand!
What specific branding tools should you utilize?
At the bare minimum, you should start out with a highly visual custom website with expert, quality design using compelling visuals and built-in Call to Action visuals. Make sure your developer uses search engine optimization (SEO) and Responsive Design in your package. Expect to pay between $4,500 and $10,000 for a custom site that will bring you ideal clients.
After your new website goes live, and as your budget allows, seek additonal design pieces:
- Business cards that are designed front and back (using the back to SELL your services – ask me how)
- Custom print brochure
- Your custom brochure available as a PDF to download from your website
- Branded illustration of your client process
- Custom notecards
- Custom presentation folders
- Custom Powerpoint designs to match your brand
Expect to pay more for an experienced designer. Remember though, this is a one-time investment in your practice and should be viewed as an amortized investment, not an expense. The one big takeaway I have for you is: don’t hire a beginning designer or low-end bidder. My clients have been disappointed with the results from inexperienced designers.
With branding, you get what you pay for, so do it right the first time!
Next Steps: Hire Suzanne as your Business Coach
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Serious, motivated advisors only please. You’ll grow personally and professionally and you’ll take full responsibility for your success.
Suzanne Muusers is an ICF-Member Business Coach who has worked with hundreds of successful independent financial advisors and hedge fund managers since 2004. She helps clients develop their Value Proposition, Ideal Client Profile, and Marketing Strategy so that their marketing message appeals to affluent clients.
Suzanne has created exercises and programs that help her clients get straight to the point and avoid mistakes other advisors tend to make. Her clients save time getting to the next level due to her extensive knowledge and experience in the business growth field.
That’s my promise.
Prosperity Coaching LLC