Matt Featured In Advisor Perspectives: What Advisors Don’t Get About Brand Awareness

Did you buy a product or service in a store or online today? If so, you did something without even being aware of it. And that thing can help you grow your firm.

Think back to your store visit. You probably saw a bunch of similar items on the shelf. But you were looking for one specific product. It was the one you went there to buy, and it was the one you took home with you.

When you pulled it off the shelf, you demonstrated brand awareness. Something made that item stand apart from its competitors. Maybe you had purchased it before and liked it. Perhaps you are a long-time customer and have used it for years. Or maybe you saw commercials promoting it and decided to try it.

Whatever the reason, something motivated you to select that specific brand from all the available choices. Marketing experts call it brand awareness. They have used it for generations.

You should use it to grow your firm.

While we’re accustomed to branding cars. soft drinks and toothpaste, the planning profession has been reluctant to use this approach. As a result, the public sees all financial advisory firms as pretty much the same.

Too many Americans have an image of our profession that’s wildly inaccurate. They imagine only the wealthy can afford our services. On top of that, they also think one financial consulting and wealth management company is the same as the next.

You and I know nothing could be further from the truth. But they don’t.

And that’s why your firm needs brand awareness.

Branding makes your firm distinct by highlighting the differences that separate you from your competitors. When done effectively, it creates a desire in would-be clients to work with your firm while also making existing clients feel satisfied and confident knowing their financial future is in good hands.

Creating a brand isn’t easy. It’s one of the most challenging tasks your business will ever undertake. And there’s a reason why it’s so difficult.

It takes a thoughtful, concentrated approach to discern what differentiates your company and come up with the thing (or things) that make you unique from so many others who do similar work.

But there’s something that can give you a significant head start on building your brand identity.

As I have discussed before, financial advice is built on relationships. We work with clients for decades and sometimes across multiple generations. We are in it for the long haul, through ups and downs, good times and bad, and we don’t stop until we have steered our clients to their ultimate financial destination.

That became crystal clear at a Schwab IMPACT conference I recently attended. One of the biggest takeaways was the understanding that “people buy people, not brands.” That’s an essential insight for financial advisory firms looking to build their brand.

As you set about this important project, the first order of business is looking at the people on your team. All too often, when wealth managers prepare to build an advisory firm’s brand, they trot out the array of services offered. But that misses the point. Clients and prospects are drawn to you because of the people who make up your firm. They’re attracted to your business by your team’s professional knowledge, ability to listen, and the emotional support, encouragement and reassurance available to them regardless of whether bears or bulls are controlling the markets.

In short, your people are the difference.

Apply that difference to the content and strategies already in place for your firm. Look for opportunities to leverage that material by expressing them in your employees’ voices. Let them share your story. Your employees already know how to connect with people in a one-to-one setting. Use that skill set to your advantage by having them share your message with new prospects.

People relate to other people. Viewers and readers connect with personal stories, not data and statistics. It’s all about how you make the potential client feel. Suppose they feel your team members are experienced and knowledgeable, approachable and understand them and their financial situations. In that case, they are more likely to choose your firm and entrust you with guiding them toward their long-term goals.

Put yourself in the prospect’s place. Which resonates with you? A firm that brags about the large number of assets it manages, the software it uses, and the array of financial features available to its clients? Or one where team members share their success stories by describing some of the clients they have dealt with, how their dreams, hopes, and fears were all listened to with care and understanding, and how, with perseverance and discipline, the financial advisor assisted them in reaching their goal? It’s a no-brainer.

People win over stats every time.

Your team’s voices convey those selling points with authenticity and credibility that nothing else can match.

Once prospective clients have connected with your firm on the human level, you have achieved brand awareness. You have successfully conveyed to the customer (in this case, the client) the very characteristic that differentiates your business.

A would-be client’s journey to choosing a brand is complex. There are ample opportunities for them to be distracted.

But you have a powerful tool to eclipse anything your competition can offer. You have people power. Put it to work. Talk with your team members. Ask them to share their most memorable experiences with clients over the years. Share those stories in your marketing efforts.

Those stories will go a long way toward elevating and promoting your brand.

Read the Advisor Perspectives article here.