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I work with student-athletes looking to cash in on their name, image, and likeness (NIL). But I also work with advisors and have found there are important similarities In how they achieve marketing greatness.
NIL is your personal brand. Recent legislation allows student-athletes to profit from their brand. But successful financial advisors have been profiting from their personal brand since their careers began.
A personal brand is the foundation of your digital persona and should fuel and shape your marketing efforts. Just like a student athlete marketing their NIL, you must:
- Understand, evaluate, and define your brand;
- Make a marketing plan; and
- Execute, monitor, and adjust (until the end of time).
Understand, evaluate, and define your brand
The financial advisor brand is no longer about a fancy logo and a pretty website populated with soothing nature scenes. It’s about you! Consumers are looking to connect with the actual advisor (or team of advisors) they will be working with. Who is the person behind the brand? Who will be taking my phone calls, performing my annual reviews, and handling the most intimate details of my financial life?
Your brand exists whether you like it or not. The key is to uncover what it says about you and decide if it accurately reflects your image and likeness. After this audit, you can tweak, adjust, or overhaul the brand if needed.
Defining your brand starts with your mission. What are you trying to achieve with your business? Clearly delineate who you work with and what you do to fulfill that mission. Using your mission as the driving force is a way to not only stay consistent and build a strong brand, but to ensure authenticity shines through your marketing to your target audience.
You can buy ads and pay for marketing help, but you can’t put a dollar amount on authenticity.
A brand is expressed through its differentiation. Think about the commercials you see for the products you buy – particularly when you buy a new product you haven’t purchased before. What about their marketing made them stand out to you? That was differentiation. Differentiation is why that company made the sale to you.
Start by verbalizing your differentiation. Could you express to me right now in just a sentence or two how you are different than the financial advisor down the street? If not, you need to work on verbalizing this value.
Use those value points to guide your marketing content. This will help social media followers find you, your content, and your website – with the intent of encouraging them to make that first discovery call.
Remaining engaged is a big part of differentiation. Stay on top of responding to comments, actively engaging with their content, and using social media tools to their full advantage to get the broadest reach.
Build a marketing plan
Now you’ve got the brand and the content plans to promote yourself, how will you best leverage your personal brand to generate revenue? Your brand is only effective if you can reach the right people with enough frequency that you earn their trust and build a digital bond that keeps them coming back for more. Understanding social media algorithms, making a communications calendar, and implementing consistently will be the focus of this part of the process.
Remain consistent but flexible
One of the most difficult parts of building a brand is remaining consistent over time – and not just consistent in your brand identity, but in engaging with your audience. Wouldn’t it be weird if suddenly you stopped seeing Doritos commercials on ESPN? What if they disappeared for a few years and suddenly came back? Of course, with the frequency at which we are advertised to, you might not notice its absence at first. But you’ll notice it was gone once it came back.
Consistency for financial advisors is more important. You don’t have a billion-dollar brand to carry you through less consistent marketing months (or a collection of tasty, triangle-shaped corn chips to offer). Staying on track is imperative to earning the trust of potential clients thinking about working with you.
You’ll also need to adjust your marketing plan to capitalize on the opportunities that are reaping you the greatest reward. Rather than spread your energies across six outlets with only four doing consistently well, focus all your energy on those four outlets. No marketing plan should ever be inflexible. The evolution of digital marketing and social media platforms will undoubtedly force your plan to evolve.
Sliding into home base
This isn’t my first marketing rodeo, and it isn’t my only one. Over the past six months, I have written a textbook and courseware for educators to teach student athletes looking to market themselves and generate revenue from their NIL. It is the same information I have been sharing with financial advisors for 20 years, just in a different format. Top-performing advisors and student athletes have a lot in common. They have ironclad, undeniable personal brands that drive revenue generation. The careers are different, but the marketing strategies remain the same.
Do you have an undeniable personal brand? What would you like your personal brand to say about you?
Dr. Maribeth Kuzmeski is the president of Red Zone Marketing, a consulting firm specializing in business growth for financial services firms. She is the author of nine books and a professor of marketing at Oklahoma State University teaching several marketing courses, including Personal Branding: Name, Image & Likeness.
Read more articles by Dr. Maribeth Kuzmeski