1. Your Client Communication Many of your clients are concerned about the current state of their investments and, as a result, many are open to advice. That advice might be coming from other advisors. You may have a good referral process but is it enough to retain clients? You need to keep your existing clients loyal by displaying and demonstrating your loyalty to them. Your clients may be on the lookout elsewhere but, as you know, they are looking in a very crowded marketplace of advisors. The process of developing a successful brand strategy starts with determining your unique stand: that is, the benefits of what you provide and how you support your clients.
Emotional comfort is what your clients need more than ever right now. It is through your stand that your slogan, your mission, your promise and all your values are developed. Once your stand is determined it will set the stage for a very powerful brand. The result is that your best loyal clients will be eager to tell others they care about, to do business with you. Combine this with your referral process and an intro package, communicate it within an effective Corporate Identity, and you will have all you need to bring in new business.
2. Your Corporate Identity Your corporate identity is a gateway to your business. It’s what your clients will see or hear first when they are introduced to your organization.
This is part of your business foundation and is a very good investment for you if done correctly. Having a powerful corporate identity in place positions you and the value that you provide firmly and clearly with potential and existing clients, giving them confidence in you, and giving you confidence in yourself and what you offer, regardless of the economic climate.
Developing an effective corporate identity can be a tricky business. A client’s decision-making process is 80% emotional and 20% rational. In fact, clients will typically look for reasons not to do business with you more so than reasons why they should. This means your corporate identity should be designed to address the emotional needs of your audience as well as the rational ones, with the greater weight on the emotional side. If you are serious about your business and are in it for the long haul, you want to use a professional branding firm that knows your industry to help.
Here is how I typically break down the balance of needs when I’m creating a corporate identity for advisors: • Logo: 80% to 100% emotional, 0% to 20% rational • Slogan: 100% emotional • Descriptor: 100% rational • Image: 80% to 100% emotional, 0% to 20% rational
Prospective clients need to understand what it is you do. The descriptor is designed to handle this rational need. It simply describes what you do (e.g. investment and insurance Services).
But it is the slogan — the identity piece dedicated to emotional appeal — that instills confidence. Your Slogan is your mini mission statement. It expresses what your clients feel and experience when you are looking after them. Words in your slogan can be used by you and your staff in talking about your business, and they also make it easier for your clients to explain the value of what you do to others.
Slogan development is a real science. It can be a challenge to sum up the emotional result of what you provide in two to five words. Some advisors we’ve coached will come across slogans we have developed for other firms and request something similar. Sometimes advisors will research slogan ideas online. Copyright issues aside, these options may not fit with who you are, your uniqueness, and how your best client relates to you. They are definitely not a unique expression of the very distinct value that you add. Slogans should not be taken lightly.
Here are some trademarked slogans we have developed for advisors that fit with who they are and help keep their confidence and focus on track:
• Marlatt – Creating plans for life • Barks Financial – Caring people. Sound advice. • CoralLife – Discover a new view • Seligman & Associates Ltd. – Knowledge. Guidance. Caring.
Advisors who have previously survived tough times are often prepared for a recession or downturn. They use the time to focus and build their brand strategy. By working now to get a solid brand in place, you will be top of mind with clients as the cycle starts to turn.
Fortunato Restagno is a brand specialist with The Personal Coach. He is the co-founder of the MasterPoint Program™, a complete brand strategy program designed specifically for financial advisors.