Financial Advisors

When the Advisor is the Brand: 5 Tips for Selling Yourself Without Selling Out

Branding is important for any business.

As an advisor, it can be even more critical to your success. After all, when people choose to let you manage their wealth (or purchase a whole life policy from you), they’re investing in you.

It's up to you, and you alone, to deliver.

So, how do you go out there and sell yourself and your practice (and look good doing it)?

It starts by knowing what clients want, as well as what they respond to. These aren’t always one and the same.

For example, people typically hate pop-ups. Most people will tell you directly that they can’t stand the annoyance of having to click away or the struggle of finding the elusive “X” to get out.

Studies have shown, however, that using pop-ups when people are starting to leave a website (known as exit-intent pop-ups) has increased conversions by as much as 20%.

This is the perfect case of people not knowing what they want.

So, if they don’t know, who does?

In order to sell yourself effectively, you have to give people what they want, offer something no one else does, and not be afraid to promote yourself.

The tips and insight below will help you come up with the best advisor branding strategy and develop a strong personal and professional brand, whether you’re a one-person operation or you have a full team of advisors and salespeople.

Make Personal Connections

Today’s clients want nothing to do with giant corporations and nameless firms. They want to work with brands and advisors that offer a personal, human connection. This includes everything from online shopping to service businesses like plumbers and electricians. (And it certainly includes financial advisors, insurance advisors, and family offices.)

People need to feel like they matter, and like they’re being assisted by someone, not something.

When you are building your website and setting up your online marketing campaigns, make your content personal. Don't write in a stiff, third-person style that is reminiscent of a medical journal or piece of financial news.

Make sure that your tone matches your practice and the line of business that you are in.

More relaxed practices may even be able to use casual language, so long as it doesn’t compromise their sense of authority or go against compliance.

Become an Industry Expert

You can no longer sell things to people if you want them to buy. It just doesn’t work like that. Everyone knows that you’re selling some kind of product or service—why else would you be in business?

What they don’t know is why they should choose your company out of all of the options out there. Fortunately, there are things you can do to help sway them to your side of the fence.

Becoming an industry expert is a big way to get people’s attention. Not only does this bolster their confidence in your brand, but it gives them comfort in knowing that you have all of the information and resources that they need.

In today’s world where everyone is in a hurry, fewer stops mean a better experience all around. Being an expert in your niche offers perks like:

  • More credibility
  • A stronger reputation
  • Increased traffic and potential conversions
  • A chance to do more than sell something
  • More on-the-spot sales because of the inherent trust

In addition to providing people with information, the concept of putting helping and educating before the profit margin is not something that a lot of advisors consider these days.

Therefore, if your audience sees that you value their education as much as their wallet, they’ll respond in kind.

When I think of the idea of becoming an industry expert, my mind goes to Keith Beggs, an advisor in the Houston, Texas area.

For over 13, years Keith and his team have utilized academically based, tax-efficient and Nobel Prize-winning strategies to help families achieve a stress-free retirement.

He doesn’t merely present himself as an “advisor.” He positions himself as an advisor who uses proven principles and sophisticated processes to produce superior results. That’s how you become recognized as an industry expert.

(On a related note, nobody is going to bestow the title of industry expert upon you. You have to go out there and claim it. If you do things that position you as an expert, you’re an expert. Simple as that.)

Know Your Value (And Tell Others)

You need to create a value proposition, which essentially is just a statement that lays out the following elements:

  • What your business offers
  • Why it is better than the competition
  • The benefits and reasons to choose your brand
  • What problem your product or service solves and how it does that

You have to know your worth. You also have to figure out who your audience is so that you can communicate that worth to people effectively. Make sure that your value proposition is short, sweet, and provides all the information that someone needs to make a decision, or at least to decide to learn more.

Sometimes it’s helpful to see what other advisors are doing. It’ll give you an idea of how to create your own value statement. So I’ll give you a couple of examples.

Michael Wirjadisastra, an advisor in Pleasanton, California, is the first insurance and finance professional I want to point you to. This is his value proposition:

“Since 1993, Michael Wirjadisastra with MW Insurance & Financial Services Associates has helped clients to get to The 0% Tax Bracket and supercharge their retirement savings, and protect them Not to go broke in a nursing home.”

How is that for a crystal-clear value proposition that explains what the business offers, why it’s better than the competition, the benefits and reasons to choose his practice, and the problems his services solve? Pretty good!

The second one I want to mention is Ethan Meikle, a top professional in financial services in the Selah, Washington area. This is his value proposition:

“Ethan Meikle helps people by showing them a safe, secure way to build wealth and avoid Wall St and the IRS all from the comfort of home. As a virtual advisor, he is able to help people no matter where they live. By utilizing overlooked strategies, he is able to create more lifetime income for people using the least amount of money possible.”

That’s a masterful value proposition that sets Ethan apart from 90 percent of his competitors.

I’ll give you one more. This one is from Michael Stewart, MBA, RFC. He’s a financial advisor in the Crystal Lake, Illinois area, and his value proposition helps him paint a clear picture of who he is when networking and prospecting:

“With over 20 years as a financial advisor, Michael has helped hundreds of families across the United States prepare for a more confident retirement by focusing on strategies that potentially reduce stock market risk and increase retirement income while attempting to minimize the income taxes paid over the clients lifetime. Crystal Lake Tax & Financial serves clients in 26 states throughout the country.”

Again...another excellent value proposition that has allowed an advisor to differentiate and excel. The question is, what’s yours?

Listen and Ask Questions

The world got very big, very quickly.

People have also quickly tired of being just a number in the system. While they enjoy the convenience of the internet, they still prefer a connection with an advisor who is going to listen to their needs and address their concerns. It’s important for you to listen carefully to your audience.

Use customer surveys and other tools to measure satisfaction and find out what people want that your personal brand is lacking.

Ask questions, and ask them often. Just make sure that when you get answers, you are really listening to the input that you are given.

There is no better way to build a strong brand than to give people exactly what they want and expect from a company or service like yours.

When it comes to follow-up, make sure that you pick up where things left off. This makes your prospects and clients feel like they were heard and it gives you a great way to transition into addressing how you can meet their needs.

Even as a general conversation habit, this can be invaluable to your interpersonal skills.

Create and Offer Social Proof

You can tell someone that you are the best at what you do all day long, and they still may not believe you. Someone else could tell them that you did a horrible job on a project, even if they’re lying, and they’ll instantly tarnish your reputation.

The internet is difficult to balance sometimes when it comes to branding, and especially when you are trying to sell yourself as the brand.

Social proof allows you to guide the conversation, rather than leaving your audience to find their own third-party reviews that could skew the decision in the wrong direction.

You can offer customer reviews and testimonials, showcase your followers on various platforms, and even generate a network of clients or customers that are ready to back you up on social media at any point in time.

People listen to other people. Take advantage of that. Consider even getting involved in local community activities, such as industry events, radio shows, and other events or activities. (As compliance allows, of course.)

Any platform that will allow you to showcase your personality and offer other people’s input at the same time is going to help you build that social proof to back up your advisor brand.

3 Steps to Building Your Advisor Brand

Step 1. Find the “Why”

What brought you to the idea to start this business or offer this service? Why are you here now and what are your intentions? Be honest with yourself so that you can provide honest branding to your audience.

Step 2. Define Values

These should be in writing. Think about what matters most to you and how you are pursuing those things. Figure out where your priorities are for your business and your branding efforts. When you are clear about your own values, it will be easy to make the right decisions and take focused actions that align with those values.

Step 3. Accept Your Brand

No matter how many times you “re-brand” your website, people are still going to remember the old website. Someone, somewhere, will remember where you came from. Therefore, you should accept that your brand is never going to be perfect and that it doesn’t have to be. Know that you can do more for your brand by creating that authentic human connection than you can with any other branding efforts.

Confidence and Persistence are Key

In our industry, confidence is everything. You can’t go out there and tell people that you think you might have the right solution. You have to convince them that you have not just the best solution, but the only solution that they will ever need.

To do this, you must be confident and you must persist. There are going to be more virtual doors slammed in your face before you make your first sale than you can count. Don't let that discourage you.

Remember that it’s a fine line between confidence and arrogance. Look at your competition and see how they are marketing to their prospects and clients.

Does their tone sound confident?

Or do they sound like they are being cocky and taking advantage of their corner on the market?

Today's consumers don’t want anything to do with arrogant and out-of-touch advisors or firms. They want confident, yet humble advisors with whom they can create personal connections.

How to Find Confidence

Even on a personal level, developing confidence is tricky. As an advisor with a small practice, it can be even more complicated. Fortunately, there are some things that you can do to help.

Rule number one is simple: don’t act confident. Be confident.

This is always easier said than done. However, you can do it if you take a minute to think about what you (and your brand) have to offer. Where do you excel? What unique services or skills does your brand offer?

Find at least a few things that you are proud of. These can be the basis of your confidence. Be confident in all that you do and be honest with your clients, and the rest will come naturally.

Persisting Through the Slow Times

As an advisor, you’re essentially in your own ”David and Goliath” situation with a number of larger companies and multinational corporations that offer the same products or services that you provide.

This can be discouraging, to say the least, and it can make branding efforts difficult. How can you convince people that you’re the best at what you do when you don’t believe it?

Remember that despite who is on top right now, things change quickly. Plus, more people are seeking out personal connections and smaller local practices that offer a better level of service than any corporation can fathom.

It may take six months or it may take a year for you to get where you want to be with your branding efforts. Just be patient, and most importantly, be persistent.

A Few More Quick Tips

Now that I’ve addressed most of the major tips for selling your brand without making the wrong impression, there are just a few more things that you need to know. These points may not be as critical, but they can definitely make an impact and help create a solid foundation of trust for your brand.

  • Always back up any claims you make with facts. There is a lot of hype out there on the Internet today and if you want to stand out, you have to be honest and be ready to prove your case at any given moment.
  • Use different marketing channels. A company that only markets on the radio is going to do miserably in sales when compared to a company that has a diverse marketing plan that includes radio, TV, online advertising, search engine optimization, and more.
  • As a local advisory, you can use location-based services and optimization to promote your personal brand and help increase your social proof to draw in new clients. You can combine marketing efforts and campaigns to get the perfect outcome, no matter what you have in mind.

The Bottom Line

Branding yourself can be a challenge. As humans, we want to say good things about ourselves, but we also want to be careful not to come off as arrogant. With this information, it should be easier for you to communicate and create that ideal brand image that you want your audience to see.

If you’re not having much success on your own, professionals are out there to help you learn more about selling yourself. They can even help you with your branding efforts to make sure that you make the best impression and reach the maximum audience possible.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

Jeremiah Desmarais

Jeremiah D. Desmarais is one of the world’s leading voices on marketing strategy in the financial and insurance industries. Founder of Advisorist.com, a pre-eminent platform of business growth strategies for financial professionals, he's a 23X time award-winning entrepreneur, consultant, and philanthropist.

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