In the financial planning world, I see many advisors who are happy to distance themselves from their professional brand. In some ways, I totally get this. For example, naming your practice after yourself isn’t necessarily a winning idea because it won’t always resonate with your potential clients. It’s also understandable that the pressure of always being associated with your professional brand can get to some people. However, when you get past company names, logos, niche-based marketing tactics, and everything else – everything will always circle back to you. As a business owner you ARE your brand. The sooner you embrace that your personality is one of your brand’s key defining factors, the sooner you can start working it to your advantage.
In the financial planning industry, there is a temptation to over-professionalize yourself and your business. But that isn’t really what people are looking for in a financial planner anymore. Of course, professionalism will always be important. Nobody is going to want to pay someone to help steer their financial decisions or manage their investments if that someone shows up to their initial meeting in basketball shorts and a ball cap. However, with so many tech-centric options for the DIY financial planner on the market today, people will turn to you because of who you are. They’re actively seeking to personally connect with their advisor. If they weren’t, they’d hunt down a robo-advisor to sign on with and call it a day.
So, what are the benefits to embracing your personality as a professional? And how can you let it shine through your work to attract clients?
Repeat After Me: I Am My Brand
This is true in the most basic sense. You founded your financial planning practice. Your values, financial planning strategies, and preferred methods of working with clients are at the heart and soul of your business. Own them. You are the only one who does things your way – and I guarantee that clients are interested in hearing about what sets you apart from any other advisor they could talk to. Check your business branding – specifically the message you’re putting out there on your website, blog, podcast, or social media channels. Can you make it more personal? Does it honestly reflect your beliefs and your story? Evaluate this message regularly. It should always be consistent, and it should evolve as your business evolves. Over time, you’re going to grow and change as a person and a business owner. Nobody’s cementing you into one way of thinking or one way of running your business. Embrace the evolution of you – just make sure your message reflects who you are over the course of your journey.
Alienating People Isn’t All That Bad
I know. Blasphemous, right? I find that most financial advisors who go the super-professional route are purposefully shooting for bland messaging and palatable content marketing strategies. Their thought process is that they don’t want to alienate anybody. They want to work with anyone and everyone who reaches out to them because they believe that all people ultimately have financial problems that need solving. There is nothing wrong with this giving nature, or with the desire to help others with your services. But by not showcasing your personality, or who you are as a business owner, you’re more likely to draw in clients who you just don’t mesh with.
These “bad” fits might be a perfect fit for another advisor out there. If your content and your overall branding strategy had accurately reflected your financial values, methods of planning, and personality this so-so client may have self-directed elsewhere. Ultimately, this would have left you with more time and energy to pour into a client relationship that’s a PERFECT fit. Don’t we all want more of that in our professional lives?
Being Yourself Makes an Impression
There are a LOT of bland businesses out there – financial and otherwise. By being unabashedly yourself, you’re going to make an impression. People will remember you. They’ll remember your face, your value proposition, fee structures, opinions, and the fact that in your bio you talk about more than just the holistic financial planning process.
The entire point of content marketing is to provide multiple touch points for prospects to keep them in your sales funnel and to convince them to work with you in a million small ways. Making a positive first impression simply by embracing who you are will help them onto the path from prospect to client.
Use it For Marketing
You are more than your job. Even workaholics like you and I have hobbies. We have a family, friends, a Thursday night kickball league (Just me? Cool). Dig deep to find out what you love – write it out. Then decide how you can show up to events and use your shining personality to knock people’s socks off. Some examples that could work for you are:
- Love running? Or maybe you don’t love running but you love a particular organization that’s throwing a fundraising 5k? Show up. Buy branded water bottles and pass them out at the finish line (confession: I heard this idea at XYPN17 this year and LOVED IT).
- Adore volunteering at your local humane society? Offer to sponsor one of their events, or to buy supplies for/put together thank you bags for people who rescue an animal and put your marketing materials in there, too.
- Find yourself spending every weekend at your kid’s soccer games? Bring your business cards. Chat people up to find out if they’re in your niche.
- Go to a coffee shop every morning? Ask them if you can leave a stack of your marketing materials there.
These are just a few ideas. You don’t have to always network in a professional setting. Narrow down a list of things you love to do or places you love to be and figure out how to market yourself there, too. It’ll come more naturally to you and people will be more drawn to you if you’re sharing an interest.
You Are Awesome, Don’t Forget It
Being yourself sets you apart from the competition. Don’t be afraid to embrace your quirky, wonderful personality and incorporate it into your business content, value proposition, and marketing.