I never took a marketing class in college, but as a loyal, spend-happy consumer I certainly understand and appreciate the concept of “branding” very well. Have you ever wondered why companies spend billions of dollars to market products that are already a household name? They mainly do it to keep their products relevant and attractive and to constantly put them in the consumer’s face.
While the marketing methods that we as financial advisors use may be different than a Fortune 500 company’s tactics, the goals are no different – to effectively position your firm and the services you offer to your target market.
I embraced the concept of branding very early on in my practice. This was evidenced by everything I said or did to market my firm. In our industry, branding encompasses a lot more than simply associating a product with a catchy jingle that you hear thousands of times. It includes everything our clients experience from the moment we begin communicating with them as a prospect and continuing indefinitely, even when they are entrenched and loyal clients. To me, branding your firm should never stop because we work in a hyper-competitive industry and our clients are being targeted by our competitors on a daily basis.
One example of my branding campaign begins with my firm’s commitment statement. I’d like to share my firm’s statement as it is written word-for-word on all of our marketing materials:
- To conduct our business according to the highest standards of honesty, integrity, and fairness.
- To continually maintain that your best interests are the foundation of your financial planning.
- To provide a consistent and structured approach to your financial needs that will result in an integrated and customized solution for you.
- To make recommendations that best suit your stated financial needs and objectives.
- To invest any funds that you entrust to us in a sound and prudent manner, consistent with your financial profile.
- To communicate to you in a timely and accurate manner.
- To maintain absolute confidentiality in all matters relating to your investments.
- To review your financial progress on an ongoing basis to ensure that your financial plan continues to evolve with the stages of your life.
Everything I do is derived from reinforcing this commitment statement. It is a consistent theme that my clients hear, and contains a very specific and thoughtful pledge that I feel is important to communicate. Building a brand is one thing, but effectively communicating it is another. I communicate my brand in a multitude of ways, which includes, among many others, client newsletters, my office appearance and environment, and my “commitment statement.”
If you wish to project a powerful message similar to my commitment statement, the first question you should ask yourself is whether you have a comparable statement that is an honest reflection of your firm and that you would be proud to share with your clients and prospects. Next, that statement must be consistent with everything else you are doing to market yourself. Lastly, you need to have the capability, resources and infrastructure to support the statements you make.
We all spend so much money marketing our services – whether it’s through seminars, direct mail, or other means. It is a shame to spend so much time and money trying to attract prospects only to have neglected other aspects of our marketing or branding campaign that may fail to impress the new clients we so eagerly court. My advice is to create a consistent marketing theme that effectively defines your unique brand. But please don’t stop there, as you must relentlessly and passionately convey this message to achieve marketing bliss.