Written by Kronos Technologies on March 14, 2018
Building your brand is essential to the growth of your practice—it demonstrates your expertise, your good intent and it builds trust. Which is key to creating strong, long-term relationships and immunizing yourself against your competitors’ efforts.
Here are three unique steps you can take to effectively build your brand with your clients.
Step One: Cover the brand-building basics
When it comes to building their brand most advisors have at least experimented with the basics—things like posting on Twitter and LinkedIn, creating a website for their practice, writing a blog, creating a YouTube channel, speaking, and hosting educational events. Engaging in these activities is both useful and important when it comes to increasing your visibility within your market. But because everyone is doing them, these activities have become, in a way, table stakes. These are the brand-building things you have to do just to get in the game. Don’t ignore them, but understand that to differentiate yourself from other advisors requires something special—and that always means getting closer to your clients.
Step Two: Identify the larger client journey
Setting yourself apart from other advisors—really widening the gap—requires that you find unique ways to add value and create awesome client experiences. To do this first consider the journey that your client is on. Not the financial journey that you are already helping them with, but the one that began before they even met you and that is taking place even when you’re not around.
This is the broader client journey, as described by Julie Littlechild of Absolute Engagement during our recent Best Practices Webinar—Why Client Satisfaction Isn’t Enough. This journey encompasses all the client’s hopes for themselves and their families. If you can find ways to impact that journey, to make it easier to travel or if you can help them find better solutions to the challenges along the way, that will create daylight between you and the other advisors who are focussed just on financial and insurance goals.
To add-value and remove hurdles along the way you must first understand what your clients broader journey looks like. You need to explore their larger goals and aspirations. So when you sit with them to do a review, go beyond the FNA and talk to them about their broader goals. Find out what is happening in their family, in their business. Try to understand what problems they face, what hopes they have, what dreams they are trying to achieve—whether they are financial or not.
Step Three: Become a go-to resource
Once you understand your client’s broader journey the next step is to look for ways you can help meet their non-financial needs. The easiest way to ensure you have success in helping your client on their broader journey is to take a strategic approach to adding value. Then examine your network and look for ways you can make introductions or suggestions that would help meet the non-financial needs exposed in Step Two. If you find needs you don’t have ready solutions for, look for ways to plug those holes in your network. Ask your contacts and partners to give you introductions to other professionals who might fill the gaps.
Here’s one example of how understanding the broader client journey and utilizing your network might work. Note—for illustration purposes the example packs a number of value-add activities into one story. In actuality, you may only make one introduction or provide one solution for any given client, but you are still widening the gap to your competitors and building your brand.
Become a partner in the larger journey
Consider, for example, a hypothetical client—54 year-old man, with a wife and two teenage children. You do a thorough job in performing a Financial Needs Analysis (FNA) and using your FNA software come up with excellent financial and insurance solutions to the family’s needs. But, what if you also explore the bigger picture—the larger journey they are on?
In our example, over time (perhaps a few conversations during reviews or at seminar lunches you have arranged) he confides that he isn’t thrilled about how things are going at work. He feels like his current job has run its course, but he isn’t sure what comes next or how to find out. On the other hand, his wife is excited because she has just started her own online bookstore for women. She has a great concept and is an expert in the field—although, like most start-ups, she’s encountering some hurdles. Both of them are busy and feeling stretched. They’re finding it hard to keep up with even normal household tasks. And then there is there is their 16-year-old son who is a stand-out on his school’s hockey team, but struggling when it comes to his English and History grades.
Because you have built up and rounded out your network you might be able to help with these broader, non-financial journey issues. Perhaps suggest a concierge service to take on some of the low-value household tasks that are causing stress. Maybe suggest a tutor for the son. Refer your client’s wife to a business coach you have worked with and trust. Maybe even introduce your client to a recruiting firm that does extensive testing to match people with right role and the right company.
This non-financial value-add wouldn’t all happen in one meeting. It’s a natural outgrowth of learning about your client over time and being able to match their needs to solutions you have collected over the years. As the example shows, acting as a go-to resource elevates an advisor from a provider of insurance products to a partner in the family’s larger journey. The advisor becomes a trusted resource the family can count on for a wide variety of needs—the connected person who can always help. And that sets the advisor apart.