“A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well.” – Jeff Bezos, Founder of Amazon.com
When I used to coach financial advisors I always started by asking the question, “What business are you in?” As you can imagine, the answers I received varied but usually revolved around the notion of helping people with their money, retirement, etc. I recently heard industry expert Michael Kitces speak at our CFS/SPF Annual Conference. He described the mission of his firms’ financial advisors as, “We help people navigate the powerful forces that money exerts in their lives.” Sounds powerful yet does it help a client or potential client navigate the “sea of sameness” we find in the financial services industry? Read on to understand the value of differentiation and learn how you can differentiate yourself in your market.
For a while, the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation helped people find what they perceived to be a “fiduciary”, someone who was required to act in their “best interest”. The advent of DOL has put “fiduciary” in the vernacular of most adult Americans. With more and more CFPs in the marketplace it has served to intensify the challenge of distinguishing ourselves.
Starbucks is a great example of successful differentiation. They have differentiated themselves by creating an “experience” when you get coffee. In their corporate culture they don’t just sell coffee. That’s their brand. That’s why they can take a product that costs 5 cents to produce and sell it for 4 dollars. The premium, and what they’re selling, is the branded experience that is unique to Starbucks, and millions of people are willing to pay for it.
The same can happen with your financial advisor practice. People can buy the commodities i.e. stocks, bonds, ETFs, mutual funds and annuities over the phone and online. What they are buying from you, is the brand called “you.” They come to you because of your specialized knowledge and reputation for service. They come to you because of your “Why”, why you are in the business to begin with.
We have already established that Starbucks owns the “psychic real estate” when it comes to coffee. Their market share is so strong due to their differentiation and well-branded customer experience that they are first to mind when one thinks of coffee. Who owns the psychic real estate in your market for financial advice? How can you distinguish your brand in the sea of sameness of financial services?
Let’s look at a strategy you can use to develop your personal brand. It’s the CPR Branding Strategy.
- Credential-ize Yourself
- Position Your Value
- Use Social Media for Recognition
Credentialize yourself refers to establishing your qualifications and credibility. One of the easiest ways to creditialize yourself is to develop a biography. Many of you are already familiar with why people use a resume. The difference between a resume and a biography is that a resume is usually designed to explain your past work history. A biography is designed to give a brief synopsis of who you are, what your qualifications are and what makes you unique. One of the most interesting aspects of using a biography is how quickly it helps you to discover common ground between you and your prospects. Here are some examples where it is appropriate to use your biography:
1. At new client meetings, your bio can save time by answering many of the common questions prospects and existing clients may have about you.
2. At seminars it can help position you as an expert before you begin speaking.
3. In addition, it can be used in your promotional kit and mailings.
Position Your Value
There are a number of ways to position your value in your market. You can write a column for the local newspaper. You can develop a Podcast and archive the shows on your website. Use webinars to connect across long distances. The lists go on and on. If you struggle to come up with a strategy, get help from a trusted advisor, mentor and/or coach.
Use Social Media For Recognition
Social media can be the vehicle to get Psychic Real Estate for your practice. Your LinkedIn profile is a great way to present your “biography” to your target audience. You can also use your LinkedIn page as a tool to house links to your website and other articles that you may have written and media that focuses on you and gives you recognition as the expert in your field.
The Psychic Real Estate for what you offer is available for ownership. Don’t worry about what the competition is doing. You are unique. Create and differentiate and take ownership of your personal brand. Credential-ize yourself, position your value, and use social media to elevate the brand called “You.”