Summit consults independent financial advisors on their practices around the country and it is extremely common for us to work with advisors on the importance of having a message which permeates throughout all the client touch points. It is often one of the most overlooked, but at the same time, an easy problem all advisors can correct. However, before you start inserting your identity and message through all client touch points, you need to determine your branding message. In this article, we’re going to explore how you can create your message which you can use to uniquely describe how you serve your clients. To create your message you just need to ask yourself five fundamental questions. Once you answer these five questions, you will have your branding message, allowing you to distinguish and position yourself and your company from your competition.
The five questions are:
- What do you do?
- How do you do it?
- What resources support you?
- Why you?
Let’s take a page out of Simon Sinek’s book, “Start with Why”. So, I’m going to ask you, why? More specifically, why are you an advisor or why do you stay in this business? To help you, the answer is most likely going to be tied to an emotion you felt which was powerful enough to become a financial advisor. Most advisors I speak with usually answer this question with a name. Maybe the name of a client they helped or didn’t help? Maybe a family member had a dramatic effect on them? Either way, this is the first question you have to ask yourself. Once you know the answer to why, this will serve as the foundation to your brand.
What do you do?
How many times have you been asked this question? Whether you’re at a social event, your kid’s soccer game or anywhere you meet new people, this is a common question asked all the time. If you answer the question by saying you’re a “financial advisor”, you might as well not bother answering. You probably just lumped yourself in a negative category, in that person’s mind, even if what you do is different than what they think you do. To properly answer this question, you need to think about what actual actions you perform on a day to day basis. For example, “we work comprehensively with our clients and their wealth management plans” or “we provide a planning based approach through a defined and disciplined process”. These are actions that people can begin to understand and relate to in their own lives. You are now starting to bridge the communication gap, so many other advisors fail to complete.
How do you do it?
To continue to position yourself differently and in a way people can relate, you have to start elaborating on what you do. People want to know how or by what method you do what you say you do. A couple answers could be: “we have identified the key wealth management issues our research shows are most important to our clients” or “we have assembled several key client issues into a profile tool we use with each client, so we can help them anticipate and identify these issues to help achieve their goals.” The point to this answer is to be specific on how you do it.
What resources do you use?
The goal to this question is to substantiate what you’ve already answered. In delivering your branding message, people want to know you have the ability to accomplish what you said you can do. An example would be, “I am able to draw on the resources of Summit Brokerage to provide highly customized plans and solutions” or “we have a team of professionals with over 35 years’ experience we leverage to help our clients accomplish their goals”. The answers to this question will give you credibility.
This is the part of the message that makes it real by wrapping your personality around the other parts of your message. An example of this answer could be “we are a firm conveniently located in town that combines the best of both worlds, local access with customized personal planning”. The idea is for “you” to come through the message to make it genuine.
When we put all of these answers together, an example of your branding message would be: “We work comprehensively with our clients and their wealth management plans and provide a financial planning based approach through a defined and disciplined process (what). We have identified the key wealth management issues that our research shows are the most important to our clients (how). We have assembled these into a profile tool that we use with each client to help them accomplish their goals (how). We are able to draw on the resources of Summit Brokerage to provide highly customized plans and solutions (resources). Best of all, we are right here in town, providing the best of both worlds, local access and personalized planning (why you).”
Once you’ve taken the time to answer these questions, it’s time to start delivering your branding message. This message should permeate on every single client touch point. This includes meetings or conversations with clients and prospects, your website, social media sites, logo, etc…
Ask yourself, “does my branding message come through in each of these touch points?” If not, it’s time to create a consistent message which will benefit your practice.
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