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Refining Your Personal Brand and Market Niche

Insights based on The Flexible Advisor podcast

WHY ME?

A distinct personal brand may be the most important thing an advisor can do to attract ideal clients and enhance the market value of their practice. It is fast becoming an essential element of success in the advisory industry. Yet many advisors underestimate the potential return on this investment.

The Flexible Advisor recently spoke with Susan Danzig, a certified business development coach, about the necessity for advisors to develop a clear, concise message about themselves (a personal brand) and who they aim to serve (a specific market niche) in addition to the services they provide.

Simply put, your personal brand is the ‘why me.’ “Your personal brand is an opportunity to give people a sense of who you are and highlight the ways in which you stand out in the marketplace,” said Danzig. “Your niche speaks to your area of expertise in terms of where you focus your services. You want clients and prospects to easily understand the ‘who’ and the ‘what’ you're providing within the context of your personal brand.”              

PERSONAL AND CORPORATE BRANDS WORK IN TANDEM 

According to Danzig, the distinction between an advisor’s personal brand and a corporate brand depends upon the size of the business. “In a large organization with multiple financial advisors working in multiple target markets, the corporate identity or brand might be more inclusive — some version of ‘delivering wealth management services to high-net-worth clients.’ The firm’s marketing might then feature certain individuals and their specific areas of specialization.”

In contrast, the personal brand often defines a smaller organization. It can be what attracts clients, not only in terms of the team’s professional focus but also what will appeal to clients on a personal level. “I know an advisor in a nationwide firm who focuses on financial planning for widows. While the organization provides comprehensive services, she is known in-house for that specialty. In this case, her personal brand serves the company’s broader client marketing strategy. Meanwhile, locally, she networks with professional referral sources. She has a very clear communication strategy with regard to the firm overall, and specifically with the specific type of client she wants to serve.”

In any case, Danzig said, “You want to highlight the company brand but the personal branding is just as critical. When it comes down to it, the way we attract and retain clients is based upon human connection. I encourage everybody to be clear and succinct with their personal brand within the corporate brand.”

“Take stock of who you serve, how you stand out, and your personal brand.” - Susan Danzig

A PERSONAL BRAND IS NOT STATIC

Danzig strongly urges advisors to assess their personal brand at every stage of their career. For example, “Some advisors, at the very beginning, aren't sure who they want to serve. It’s a bit like starting out in college. Some of us were undecided; some of us were focused. It's okay for a relatively new advisor to start broad and notice who they most enjoy serving, as well as where they are able to focus. Continue to take stock of the clients you're serving and those you most enjoy serving. This will help you develop a clear message about your niche and an understanding of what your ideal clients are looking for.” As time goes by, she said, “advisors may find themselves attracting a different level of client or a different type of client, or perhaps their level of expertise has been enhanced over time. This is a good time to refine your personal brand.”

For those later in their career, personal branding can serve another key purpose. “When you expect to retire in five to seven years, or less than that, you want others to recognize your business as one they might want to integrate into theirs. What is the brand that a potential suitor is going to purchase and, and how strong is that brand in the market? It can be easier to find suitors with similar target market specialization if yours is clear.”

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Your personal brand is the "why me?" 

  • Continue to take stock of the clients you're serving and those you most enjoy serving.

  • The way we attract and retain clients is based upon human connection.

WHERE TO BEGIN

Look at how you're introducing your practice. What is it specifically that you're providing your ideal clients? And in terms of who you're serving, what is that target market that you're serving? Is it more broad, like business professionals in general? Or, is it more narrow, like a specific trade or industry? If you can answer those questions, you're on the right track.

Personal hobbies can be a great way of connecting with people, and a productive part of an advisor’s personal branding. Danzig said that this can help to shape the ways an advisor goes about marketing to attract their ideal prospects. “When you can bring a shared passion into to the conversation, you have that person's attention. I know of an advisor who is a mountain biking enthusiast serving high-net-worth clients. He often meets prospects and clients through that activity, so it is part of his personal brand. It supports him in connecting not only with fellow mountain bikers but with people who enjoy the outdoors in general.”

Danzig’s advice: “Take stock of who you serve, how you stand out, and your personal brand. By doing a little due diligence on all of these aspects, you have a strong opportunity to create a marketing strategy that sets you up to win.”

You can access the full discussion on The Flexible Advisor, wherever you get your podcasts.                                                           

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