Defining your brand can build a bridge to clients

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Invest in your brand? What’s the point?

Clients. That’s the point. Bigger, better, more qualified, more eager to get started now. A+ types of clients.

“Branding is the bridge that takes you from a transactional salesperson always looking for the next person to buy your products, to a pursued, trusted financial consultant who brings value and purpose to a client’s financial plan or investment portfolio,” says Alana Kohl, founder and president of AdvisorPR in Henderson, Nev., who works with advisers on branding issues.

So how to make the leap from being the pursuer to being pursued?

Here are a few steps to get to the other side:

1. A hook. This is what sought-after advisers have. Examples include, “Ken Fisher hates annuities, and so should you” and “Ed Slott can tell you how to parlay your IRA into a family fortune.”

“Each of these monikers has a strong brand name recognition with the public, making it simple to understand the value their expertise would bring you,” Kohl says.

2. First impressions count. How do people interact with your brand? Is it through your website, a referral or random chance?

“Your first impression, whether it’s your website, LinkedIn or Facebook, or all three, should illustrate what you do, how you’re different, and succinctly communicate in a way that a prospective client would understand,” says wealth manager Jennifer Landon, founder and president of Journey Financial Services in Ammon, Idaho. “People subconsciously make judgments and assumptions based on first impressions.”

Adds Andrew Rafal, founder and president of Bayntree Wealth Advisors, a registered investment adviser in Scottsdale, Ariz: “A prospective client, whether referred or [who] finds your firm in another avenue, will look at your website as the first way to learn about you and what you do.”

“It’s imperative that your website clearly defines who you are and allows easy navigation,” he says. “You have one chance to make a good impression and also ensure that your website is mobile-friendly.”

3. A branded process. “Sit down and try to come up with three to six marketing pieces that clearly identify your firm that you can hand a potential client,” says Charlie Harriman, an adviser at Cloud Financial, an RIA in Huntsville, Ala. “If you can’t, you may have a branding issue.”

Harriman says that his firm started working with a branding expert about six months ago, and the process took about eight weeks.

“The result was a more targeted message,” he says.

4. A memorable tagline. Rafal says he developed a tagline, “You dream, we plan,” for his firm Bayntree Financial Advisors.

The tagline resonates with clients because “it provides to a high degree what we actually do as a firm. Clients can ‘dream’ about how they want to live,” Rafal says. “We plan out their strategies based on their wants and needs.”

Rafal adds that the tagline also resonates with clients “because it’s different and memorable.”

Also important: Trademark your brand to protect your identify, he says.

This story is part of a 30-30 series on ways to upgrade your practice.

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