Create Your Own Brand To Prosper In 2005 And Beyond

By Wilma G. Anderson

Getting recognition is tougher than ever. Besides the hundreds of other advisors in your market area, youre also competing against banks, mutual fund companies and wire houses. And all of them have a lot more money to spend on marketing and advertising than you.

But you have an advantage that none of the big companies have: you!

Youre not a faceless corporation but a distinct individual with a unique personality. Youre local, with roots in the community. You can leverage this to your advantage to beat the big guys.

But it takes creativity and a new approach to out-compete the others. Its a bit more workthe bad newsbut the good news is that its fun, exciting and profitable.

What are we talking about? As an independent financial professional today, you must create a sales formula that fits only you. That is, you must create your own brand.

This brand will set you apart, so that youll stick out as the advisor or agent of choice in your area. And even if youre an exclusive agent, while you can piggyback on your companys national brand, youll still need your own brand to distinguish yourself from other agents in your area.

Personal branding is a hot topic. “The Brand Called You,” a book by marketing guru Peter Montoya, lays out the key principles of how a personal brand is crucial for all entrepreneurs. Lets look at how this can apply to your brand in financial services.

In 2005, start by picking two age groups youd like to target. For instance: 40 to 55 and 55-plus. Now think about the products that appeal to each group and the products you like to sell. Ask yourself, “Whats the best way to attract the consumers I want for my practice?”

Start with three products that you like to sell and that your market buys. This amounts to niche marketing that fits your personality, your market and what youre licensed to sell. Sales systems can be very helpful, but no sales system will magically do your work for you.

The most successful approach takes into account two factors: (1) what product(s) will consumers buy as a first sale in your market; and (2) the products and clientele youre most comfortable and successful with. Put both together, communicate with your market effectively and you have a winner.

Studies show that a prospect needs to receive about nine or 10 messages before he or she pays attention to it. Furthermore, its best to “touch” prospects in different ways.

So, look to touch prospects three times via three methods over the first quarter of 2005. For instance, you might do three direct mailings, hold three seminars and send out three press releases. Or, you might mail three print or electronic newsletters.

Such a multiple contact program starts to create you as a recognized brand in your market area.

Put yourself in the prospects shoes. You receive a direct mail piece or a phone call from Advisor A, whom youve never heard of, and from Advisor B, whose name you recognize. Which one will you be more receptive to?

Be creative; try different things. For instance, you could run a local newspaper ad three times offering a free booklet on annuities, long term care insurance products or 529 plans. (If youre securities-licensed, make sure the booklet is compliance-approved.)

You can hold a seminar on U.S. savings bonds. You can mail out large-format postcards on annuities. You can develop a classy LTCI mailer.

While youll probably have some ideas on what will and wont work, you wont know until you try a program. So, dedicate the first three months to discovering which products and which media work best for you.

With that information, you can fine-tune your efforts for the rest of 2005 by concentrating on whats working and dropping whatever isnt. Youll keep filling your sales funnel with fresh prospects.

Once you have your appointment book full, make sure you take the greatest advantage of each opportunity. Youve worked very hard to get that prospect in the door, and you need to be sure that your sales skills are top-notch.

Even if youre a successful veteran salesperson, getting refresher sales training periodically is wise. And if youre selling products that youve had relatively little experience withfor instance LTCI or annuitiesits crucial to get sales training.

Combining ongoing personal branding with top-notch sales skills will make you unbeatable in 2005.

Wilma G. Anderson, known as The LTC Coach, is president of the agency, Senior Care Associates, and a nationally known sales trainer providing workshops and individualized coaching. She can be contacted at Wilma@TheLTCcoach.com.


Reproduced from National Underwriter Edition, December 30, 2004. Copyright 2004 by The National Underwriter Company in the serial publication. All rights reserved.Copyright in this article as an independent work may be held by the author.