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They Go With Who They Know

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Let prospects and clients see the person behind the credentials.

Do you tend to put marketing and personal branding on the back burner? Do you find yourself, shall we say, “less than enthusiastic” about your book of business?

Search your name or business online. Admirable or unremarkable, prolific or sparse, fresh or outdated, the results are all a reflection of you – your personal brand. And in the digital marketplace, that brand can be your most valuable asset or your greatest detractor. The Flexible Advisor asked April Rudin, founder and president of the Rudin Group, to share her insight on this topic.

You are your product

“Many advisors don’t think about themselves as having a brand, or understand its value,” said Rudin. That can be a costly mistake. Just as people look online to check a restaurant or service provider before making a reservation or appointment, prospects and referrals are probably vetting you (among others) to determine whether to contact you. In other words, your profile on social media platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook, as well as your website, may well be your initial introduction and the basis for a potential client’s first impression.
With that in mind, Rudin offers four tips to optimize your digital brand strategy.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Create a well-defined marketing plan to help achieve your goals.
  • In today’s digital marketplace sharing personal information is key.
  • All the content that you share should tell the same story.
  • Focus on using LinkedIn as a B2B tool to drive referrals.

With that in mind, Rudin offers four tips to optimize your digital brand strategy. 

  • Planned 

According to Rudin, “Just as a financial advisor creates a financial plan and goals-based strategy to help their clients achieve a goal, advisors need to create their own marketing plan to help them achieve their goals. That begins with a defined objective, whether it be client acquisition, growing AUM, or however they want to measure it.” It also requires a thoughtful assessment of how and where marketing dollars should be allocated in light of those goals. 

  • Personal

Clients want to feel that you see them for more than their portfolio. It stands to reason, then, that they also appreciate knowing more about you than your proficiency. “In today’s digital marketplace,” Rubin said, “I find it even more important to put out more personal information as opposed to professional information. A lot of advisors talk about being a fiduciary or their licensing. While that can be part of the messaging, it’s not likely to be a connection point for an investor looking to develop a long-term relationship. They may not understand what the licenses are or understand what fiduciary is.” What they will understand is how you spend your free time. What brought you to this community? What, besides a paycheck, satisfies you as a planner? For example, Rudin said “I might start a conversation by throwing out that I grew up in Detroit. That can be a conversation starter. I have two sons; one works in financial services. I like to play tennis. Personal information articulates and enhances an advisor’s brand. It establishes a level of accessibility and point of differentiation.” 

  • Professional 

Avoid trying to be a do-it-yourself marketer. You urge clients to hire professional money managers; why wouldn’t you want a professional to help you craft your brand and messaging? “An advisor recently told me he received about 150 website hits, but zero inquiries. That tells me his website is not communicating enough about him or differentiating him in a way that entices someone to contact him,” said Rudin. “A professional can craft your unique story, what makes you different from advisor X, Y, or Z, down the street. It should invoke some sort of emotional connection on the reader’s side, which will enhance the relationship. The personal element really lends itself to social media, as well.”

Another benefit of professional assistance is ensuring that your information is consistently aligned. Rudin said “Your website, your LinkedIn, all the content that you put out as an advisor should tell the same story.  No matter where someone finds you, and it's not always online, when they do vet you, they should see a consistent story.” That means you need to keep your information current. “If your digital property is not updated—your website is from 1992, your headshot is from 2000, you're not married to that person anymore, you've gained or lost 50 pounds — your brand is not serving you. At the very least, you need to have an updated photo. Everything should be refreshed every one to two years, and your messaging should be aligned everywhere. Sometimes people will start on Twitter, let's say, and then just abandon their search.”

  • Pivot 

Many advisors, suggests Rubin, may want to consider a reboot of their social media strategy. “I think advisors need a better method of creating multiples. By that, I mean every time you connect with one client, that's just one client. If you're looking to grow your book of business, doing it in ‘onesies’ is going to be really difficult and opportunistic. You have a lot of factors playing against you. My pro tip is to focus in on using LinkedIn and a good portion of your marketing on B2B rather than B2C marketing. Connect with CPAs, matrimonial attorneys, trust and estates attorneys, insurance advisors. A CPA may be working with a client who's selling a business. That wealth event may drive someone to want a new financial advisor. That's not opportunistic. And having a referral come from a professional holds a lot more weight.”

“There's a lot of clutter out there and you want to find the white space and own that white space with your own content and your own brand.”

--April Rudin,
Founder and President of the Rudin Group

The key takeaway from Rubin: “Planning and putting forth the right resources are really important. There's a lot of clutter out there and you want to find the white space and own that white space with your own content and your own brand in your own local market.”

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