Category Archives for "Branding"

Is It Time to Rebrand Your Financial Advisor Website?

As a financial advisor, your website is often your first chance to make a great impression. So don’t miss out on the opportunity to impress your prospects. Whether your prospects find your site by searching online or researching you after being referred by a friend, failing to make the most out of this initial encounter could mean the difference between signing an ideal new client or missing out on potential business, again and again. 

In the not-so-distant past, financial advisors could get away with a basic website. As long as your firm had a site of any kind, you were doing better than the competition. However, the landscape has changed and continues to evolve at a rapid pace. The way you show up in the digital space matters, and it can mean the difference between achieving your goals and missing the mark.

If your website is more than a few years old, it’s time for an update.

If you’ve invested in a website and it’s not bringing in new business, you are due for a refresh. Your site could need a minor update or a complete rebrand. 

Here’s how to tell if your financial advisor website stuck in the past and, if it is, how to position it for success. 

Why Update Your Website

Updating your website is about more than just replacing the old with the new. Having an updated website shows potential clients that you care about your business, are actively engaged and paying attention, and are putting in the effort to share your knowledge and insights. 

Having an out-of-date website makes you appear out of touch, like you don’t care enough to keep pace with technological changes, and are too busy to be bothered. And if prospects suspect you aren’t on top of your game, they will be less likely to trust their financial future to you. 

Fair or not, this is the way impressions work. 

It’s like driving by a restaurant that looks shabby with peeling paint and 1980s signage; it might have the most delicious food, but you’re less likely to give it a try. 

Updating your website lets you implement an effective digital marketing strategy. Whereas websites from a decade ago were little more than digital brochures, now you have the opportunity to do content marketing, search engine optimization, email marketing, Facebook advertising, and more. Your website and branding need to be updated in order to get results.

Updating your website shows the world who you are now, rather than who you were several years ago. Change is the only constant, you are not the same advisor and your firm is not the same company. As you evolve over time, your presence online should evolve too.   

How to Know If Your Website Needs Updating

As I mentioned above, if your website is more than a few years old, it probably needs to be updated. And in some cases, it could be time for a full overhaul of your brand. But whether you’re too close to the brand to be objective or you don’t spend enough time online to be familiar with what consumers have come to expect from company websites, here is some guidance and the indicators signaling an outdated website. 

Ask yourself the following seven questions:

1. Is my message still relevant?

Your brand message should speak directly to your ideal client and convey that you can help them solve a particular problem or fulfill a desire they have. 

Did you start off focusing on helping young professionals begin planning for retirement, and now your firm focuses on working with pre-retirees? Did you previously work exclusively with high-net-worth families only to realize you’re more passionate about advising your upper-income middle-class American neighbors? Then the brand message on your website needs to be revised accordingly.

2. Are my images outdated?

Imagery conveys powerful meaning. When a prospective client lands on your site, they should recognize they are in the right place by seeing relatable images. Old stock photos that look like they were taken decades ago need to be replaced with fresh new pictures with an updated aesthetic. 

If a prospect would have trouble recognizing you from your headshot, it’s time for a new one—yes, even if you’ve put on some weight, gained a few laugh lines, or lost hair since your last one. An updated, friendly headshot that looks like you is a must. (See my article Tips for Taking Your Own Headshots for more information.)

3. Does my website stand out?

Back in the days when having a website—any website at all—helped you stand out, you could get away with a cookie-cutter template site. Today, you have less than 15 seconds to capture a website visitor’s attention to give them a reason to stick around and learn more about you. 

They are looking for an advisor they can trust to help them meet their goals. Having a website that paints you no differently from the advisor across town isn’t doing you any favors. If your website is a beige, boring, run-of-the-mill site, it’s time to update your brand. 

4. Has my business changed?

The answer to this question is likely yes, but is this change reflected online? If not, it’s time for a change to your website. 

Maybe you started as a one-person shop, and now you have multiple advisors or you’ve hired operations support that plays a critical role in your success. Maybe your firm started with one office, and you’ve expanded to a second location. Maybe you’ve shifted from selling products to a fee-only model. Maybe you’ve developed a signature process that you walk each client through. If there’s no sign of these changes on your website, it is time to refresh or rebrand.

5. Am I sharing content regularly?

A static brochure-like website is no longer enough. Most consumers are doing research online before making even small purchasing decisions. Hiring a financial advisor is a serious commitment, and your prospects want to know that you’re knowledgeable. They want to know your approach and perspective. Therefore you need to incorporate regular sharing and updates into your website. 

The content you share can be in the form of a blog, new articles you’ve written, a podcast, YouTube videos, or new free resources such as guides or whitepapers. The point is, you’ll want to keep people on your site and keep them coming back for more, so it’s important to incorporate a way to share content regularly and easily into your website.

6. Is my brand engaging?

This is a challenge for many financial advisors and other conservative industries. Consumers tend to be turned off by overly formal, stuffy brands, and even wealthy audiences want you to loosen your tie a bit. This doesn’t mean your website needs to be edgy or provocative; it should be engaging, friendly, and approachable.

Look over your website. Is the language formal and dry or more conversational? Will it bore readers or pique their interest? Does it sound like you or someone else? Are you speaking at people like an expert on high or telling relatable stories and asking questions? 

If your brand isn’t drawing interest and your messaging doesn’t feel like part of an ongoing conversation with clients and prospects, it needs some work.

7. Is my technology antiquated? 

If you have an old website that you haven’t kept updated, your technology needs an overhaul. While the tech side of your website is happening behind the scenes, it is a critical part of the client experience. If the site runs slowly, has broken links, or glitches, it will send the wrong message. People will click away or feel frustrated.

If you are planning to use digital marketing, you need a website that’s blog enabled, allows you to embed social media and social sharing elements, includes an email opt-in form, let’s you add or update content without relying on a webmaster, enables you to add pixels for Facebook advertising, gives you the opportunity to optimize for search engines, and more. 

Old website technology limits your reach and puts your brand at a disadvantage.

How to Rebrand Your Website

If it’s time for a new website, you’ve been in business long enough to turn to a professional. Maybe your first site was a do-it-yourself job, or your teenage daughter took care of it. But for the next round, it’s best to hire someone who knows exactly what you need to bring your brand up to today’s standards.

When looking for support in rebranding your website, select a professional or agency that understands marketing for financial advisors, rather than a web designer who only wants to make your website look nice. The point of updating your website is to enhance the performance of your marketing and get better results. 

In addition to presenting your firm in a better light, your goals should be to attract traffic, generate leads, and convert more business. Keep in mind that as a financial advisor, you should always follow compliance guidelines when creating any content for your website, so it’s best to work with someone who understands this.

It will take your time and attention. You’ll need to get clear on exactly what you want and stay involved in the process. But an experienced professional or agency will make the website rebranding process painless and set your mind at ease, ensuring you come out of the other end of it with a website you’re confident about that helps you reach your goals.

Realigning your brand is similar to rebalancing a portfolio. Over time you can drift, but think about this like a retirement plan and adjust as needed to stay true to your goals.

I hope you found this overview about website rebranding helpful. If you already have a website, and you think it might need a refresh, investigate rebranding, so you can better connect with the people you want to serve. 

Whether you’re too close to the brand to be objective or you don’t spend enough time online to be familiar with what consumers expect from websites, you may need some guidance in determining what indicators would signal an outdated website. That is where Crystal Marketing Solutions comes in! Get in touch with us to see how we can help.

1 Tips for Taking Your Own Headshots

I recently published an article, Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Marketing Photos. I talked about taking photos for your marketing materials. A number of advisors asked me if someone could take their own headshots.

You can take your own headshots, but you need to be prepared and aware to get the most professional photos you can. I always recommend hiring a professional if at all possible, but if you are going to take your own photos there are things you need to consider.

Look your best

I mentioned it in my previous article but I have to say it again: The details matter. Make sure you have put thought into what you are going to wear and how it will translate in a picture – makeup, jewelry, and haircut. Every little detail will forever be captured in your photo, so make sure it is right.

Location

Think about what will be behind you in your photo. You don’t want it to be too busy or cluttered. If you are taking the photos indoors, take it in front of a solid-colored wall. Consider the lighting. It is always best to use as much natural light as you can find. A large window near you, but not directly behind you, is ideal. Avoid taking your photos under the typical overhead fluorescent lights that are found in offices. They will give you stark highlights and harsh shadows.

You can take your photos outside — just make sure that you are fully aware of what is going on behind you that may possibly show in the background. You also want to make sure that you are not in direct sunlight. Not only will it make you squint; it can also make you look washed out. Finding a spot with great indirect light or taking the photo on an overcast day is best.

Photo resolution

Your photo must be in high resolution. This will give you the most versatility when trying to use your picture in different ways. Typically photos are printed at 300 dpi. When used on a screen, having high-resolution photos will ensure that they can be used in a variety of situations — such as on a blog, in a profile picture, in your e-newsletter and on your website — without having to worry about them looking fuzzy or pixilated.

DPI (dots per inch) refers to the printing of an image. When it comes to taking pictures with your cell phone (see below), think in terms of megapixels (MP). Check your phone’s megapixel count by looking at the user’s manual or doing a simple search online to be sure. A higher megapixel count will give you crisper images. Anything higher than 8MP should be fine. Front-facing cameras will have a lower megapixel count than a camera on the back of the phone. Change the settings to high resolution. While the photos will take up more storage space, they will be higher quality. Don’t use the on-camera zoom. This will result in a fuzzy picture. Always take the picture with some white space around the subject and then do your cropping while you are editing.

Is a cell phone picture good enough?

With today’s technology and cellphones, yes. Depending on the phone, the quality of the pictures will vary. Test it out and see if you are happy with the results. Use the HDR mode. HDR combines several exposures to create a single picture with more detail and better tone and color than non-HDR mode. See if your phone can lock its focus. Sometimes phones will try to adjust the focus as the camera moves, and this can cause images to become unfocused and fuzzy.

Make sure you have a way to hold the phone perfectly steady. You can purchase a small tripod or a simple stand for your phone. This will help reduce camera shake.

What kind of camera should you use?

I can’t answer this one. There are thousands of choices for cameras in a range of prices. It comes down to the different features of the camera, especially the lenses. You pay a professional for not only their top-of-the-line equipment, but also their experience and expertise. If you are taking your headshots, use the best camera available. Experiment with different cameras you have and see which one gives you the picture with which you are most satisfied.

Give yourself options

Don’t be afraid to mix things up. Try different poses, move your hands into different positions, and try different facial expressions. You never know what you are going to like until you try it. The bonus to taking your own headshots is that you are not on someone else’s timeline. Take advantage of that and try a bunch of different things. Try are a big smile, a smirk, and a slightly serious face. Each one of these expressions will give the photo a different feel.

One great and simple tip is to change the position in which you hold your head. Tilt it at a slight angle and be sure to hold your chin up. It may feel a little awkward at first, but it produces a more flattering photo.

The logistics

Now that you have the details all worked out, you need to figure out how you are going to take these photos. It is best if you enlist the help of a friend. It is much easier for a person to be able to see what is captured within the frame rather than you guessing what is going on while the timer is going off.

If you don’t have anyone who can help, you can always use a tripod and the self-timer function on your camera. Just be sure that you practice. The camera needs to be steady and set at eye level. This will also be when you find out if there are any problems with your background or lighting, so you can adjust if you need to. The big bonus to using the self-timer is you can take all the time you need without feeling uncomfortable in front of anyone.

Editing

Once you have a few photo options that you like, the process doesn’t stop. You will need to do at least some standard editing. Think about contrast, sharpness, and brightness. Each one of these adjustments will ensure that your headshot looks crisp. Stay away from most automatic enhancements and filters, as they tend to overcorrect and will make your photos look very unnatural and unprofessional.

With these tips, you should be well on your way to DIY-ing your professional headshots. No one will be any the wiser.

Download a free copy of the Financial Advisor Content Marketing & Optimization Guide here.

 Sometimes content marketing can seem like an overwhelming task to undertake on your own. This is exactly what we do for our clients! We help create and select the right content, optimize it so it is reaching the right people, and handle the scheduling to ensure it is as far-reaching as possible. Let us help you get a handle on the whole process by scheduling a discovery meeting today.

1 Introduction to Content Marketing for Financial Advisors

If you are looking for help to take your marketing efforts to the next level, I have created a series that aims to serve as a one-stop guide to content marketing for financial advisors, The Ultimate Financial Advisor’s Guide to Content Marketing.

In this series, I will answer questions such as:

  • What is content?
  • Why use content marketing?
  • What types of content should advisors create?
  • What strategy should be using?
  • How do I optimize my content so I know the right people are finding it?
  • Do images matter?
  • Do I need to follow a schedule?
  • How do I reach my readers?
  • How do I reach prospects?

Over the next 10 weeks, you will find the answers to those questions and more to ensure you are getting the most out of all the content you are creating for your prospects and clients.

Now, let’s begin by diving into what The Ultimate Financial Advisor’s Guide to Content Marketing is all about.

What is content?

Content is a term that’s challenging to define because we engage with it every day in various forms without necessarily thinking about what it is or how it’s affecting us. Put simply, content is information that’s directed towards an audience. Because that audience chooses to read, watch, or listen to it, content is valuable – it captures and holds attention and delivers messages when people are most open to receiving them.

The jokes in a television sitcom, the lessons delivered in a live workshop, or a chapter in a book are all considered content.

But when it comes to content marketing, the definition of content is more specific.

Content, in a marketing context, refers to blog posts, articles, social media posts, videos, infographics, podcasts, e-books, white papers, special reports, books, and other forms of valuable information that a professional or company uses to showcase what they want to be known for and to promote their brand.

Content differs from advertising in that people want to consume it rather than avoid it.

Think about searching for how to do something on YouTube. You find a video claiming to show you “How to Promote Financial Services” and when you click to open the video, you have to watch the latest Lincoln Navigator automobile commercial first. The content is the “How to Promote Financial Services” video, and the person sharing it is a content marketer who provides a product or service that will help you promote your financial services firm.

Now that you know what I mean by content, let’s talk more about content marketing.

What is content marketing?

As you can see from the above example, content marketing is a strategic marketing approach based on creating and distributing content that a target audience would find valuable and relevant.

For content marketing to be effective, it needs to have a strategy and a clearly defined audience.

As a financial advisor, it isn’t enough to say you want to be known as a financial advisor and simply start blogging about financial planning topics. That would work to a certain extent, but it would be more effective if you’re strategic. Think about exactly who you want to consume your content — the people who will hire you or refer you to others – and consider how to serve them what they want.

Your content marketing strategy also needs to be consistent, because it is a long-term strategy that works by showing up on a regular basis again and again and building trust over time.

Ultimately, your goal is to move the prospective client through your sales funnel from the awareness stage (that they need some help with their finances), to the attract stage (researching possible solutions for financial guidance), to the build stage (considering hiring you as their financial advisor), and finally to the convert stage (signing on the dotted line as a client). Each stage requires a different content marketing approach, but it all begins with top-level content that gains their initial interest and attention.

Why use content marketing to promote financial services?

Content marketing is a powerful way to tap into the first stage of the prospect’s journey. It raises awareness and educates potential clients about things they may not have considered.

When you use content to market your financial services, you’re letting prospective clients know you understand their financial challenges and you’re an expert financial professional who can guide them in areas such as retirement planning and wealth building.

Content marketing showcases your personality and firm’s brand. It illustrates to people who have never met you that not only are you knowledgeable, but you’re also relatable and approachable.

Plus, when you show up consistently, sharing valuable content, it gives prospects a chance to get to know you and see that you are a reliable, dependable, and trustworthy source who is committed to your profession and your clients for the long haul.

Content also boosts your search engine optimization (SEO). Publishing high-quality relevant content to your website consistently and distributing it through social media and other channels is the best way to attract organic (i.e., free) traffic and grow your brand online.

Conclusion

Now that you’ve had a peek into The Ultimate Financial Advisor’s Guide to Content Marketing, you know what to expect in this series. I will be taking a deep dive into each topic I noted at the beginning of this article. By the end of the series, you will have everything you need to get started or take your financial advisor content marketing to the next level. At the end of the series, I will provide a recap of exactly what to do, how to streamline your efforts, and how to get the best possible results from your financial content marketing strategy.

Download a free copy of the Financial Advisor Content Marketing & Optimization Guide here. Sometimes content marketing can seem like an overwhelming task to undertake on your own. This is exactly what we do for our clients! We help create and select the right content, optimize it so it is reaching the right people, and handle the scheduling to ensure it is as far-reaching as possible. 

A Generational Gap in Digital Marketing?

Should financial advisors spend their digital marketing efforts on a specific generation?

The best way to promote your services through digital marketing –depends on who is your target market. That depends on the age range of the people you are trying to reach. Your choices can span from the Silent Generation, Baby Boomers, Gen X to Millennials.

Can all generations be reached with the same message, through the same media?

Each generation has unique characteristics that shape the way they make decisions and how they spend their time and money. To create effective marketing campaigns it is important to understand the differences (and similarities) in how each generation prefers to receive digital content. You may be surprised by what you learn!

First, let’s look at a breakdown of the generations living in America today and some information that will help shape messages you use to reach them:

The Silent Generation (born 1928-1945) grew up in a time of rationing and saving. They are patriotic and value morals and ethics. Seeing and understanding the history of a business or product is important to them, as they appreciate established brands.

Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964) are also referred to as the “Me Generation.” They hold the majority of the country’s wealth, which is partially because women of this generation started working outside the home in record numbers. Boomers respond well to marketing that focuses on what’s in it for them.

Generation X (born 1965-very early 1980s) reached adulthood in tough economic times, and many grew up in homes where both parents worked. As a result, they are more independent and focus less on loyalty. They are currently at an age where they are busy with their career, young families, and are looking for products and services that make things easier for them.

Millennials/Generation Y (early 1980s – early 2000s) are the children of the original Baby Boomers and are set to become one of the largest living generations. This generation is growing up with technology at their fingertips and is used to information coming at them from every direction. They value friendships, so word-of-mouth marketing is effective (think of a Facebook “like” of your financial advisory firm showing up on their newsfeed).

Now that you understand the breakdown of the generations and what motivates them, how do you reach them?

Putting information online is an extremely effective way to get your message seen by a broad audience. But where do you start? What are the most popular platforms for each group?

Surprisingly enough, all generations have similar preferences for types of content and how they receive information:

Blog posts

Across all generations, blog posts are the most consumed type of online content. A blog gives you the ability to provide relevant content to your clients and potential clients, driving them to your website and social media platforms.

You can vary the messaging in each blog post to reach different audiences, which allows you to keep everyone engaged. A blog post on creating a family budget may appeal to a Generation X client whereas a post on financial planning for long-term health care may appeal to a Baby Boomer. If you provide new content on a regular basis, you will consistently draw different audiences to your business.

Facebook and other social media platforms

Even though the motives for joining Facebook may be different for each group, Facebook adoption is still growing for all ages. Creating a company Facebook page is worth the effort as long as you are also willing to use it to connect with clients and prospects.

Someone from the Silent or Baby Boomer generation may join Facebook strictly to see and post pictures of grandchildren. But if you can connect with them, your updates are likely to be more visible to this group because they typically have fewer “friends” and less showing up in their newsfeed. This will keep your business name fresh in their mind.

Gen Xers research online and if you give them a solution that is quick and easy they will like it. Using Facebook to push your blog posts, relevant articles, or maybe information about a wealth management seminar you are hosting is a great way to reach these clients efficiently.

And finally, my reference above about Millennials putting a Facebook “like” in high regards is a great example of how businesses can earn recognition and familiarity with this age group. Perhaps this group may not have an immediate need for a financial advisor but when they do you are already their “friend”!

Email

Target email campaigns are the most effective way to reach a specific segment of your client base without overwhelming other groups with non-relevant information. Tools like MailChimp and Constant Contact simplify the process of sending out information electronically.

Once you have email addresses you can create separate lists based on age and any other demographic information you are tracking. You can utilize automated emails, personalization, and activity-trend analysis. By using email marketing, you can reach a specific group in a place that they are typically checking often – their email.

Marketing across many generations may still require different messages, but by using digital media you can reach each group successfully and inexpensively. The key is to keep the content fresh and ever-changing, targeting a new audience with the next bit of information you are providing.

The fascinating thing about digital marketing is that record numbers of people are proactively going online looking for information. All you need to do is provide them with what they need, or may need and just don’t know it yet!

If you are still unclear on what is the best way to reach your target market, the right content to provide, or the right platform to use, I can help. Please reach out and see how I can help you create a customized marketing strategy that is right for your financial advisory firm and your ideal client.

1 How to Brand Yourself as an Expert

Eight Reasons to Use Content Marketing

Content is the foundation on which online marketing is based. Whether it is a social media post or a blog article, it reaches out to people and positions you and your brand as an industry expert.

According to a study by KISSmetrics, 96% of website visitors are just researching and don’t want to be contacted or begin a relationship. Website visitors come to learn, not to be “salesmanned.” They seek value, not an advertising message.

Good content lets them learn and engage in a low-pressure way. This is not the time to request a meeting, but to give them value and a reason to provide you with their contact information. Content marketing provides value to your reader and it will have a very positive effect on your business.

Here are eight reasons to use content marketing to establish yourself as an expert:

1. Establish credibility

Consistently creating quality content related to topics your target market is interested in will not only attract them to your website but it will also establish yourself as a subject matter expert. This will showcase your knowledge and highlight your experience within your field. When people see your qualifications first hand, they’re more likely to trust you and buy from you.

2. Add value

In today’s world, we deal with a lot of content overload. People are grateful if you share something that helps them and adds value to their lives. When you are careful about the types of information you share your content is more likely to be regarded as useful or helpful, and less likely to be skimmed over or deleted.

3. Build relationships

Content curation is a great way to show not only what you know, but how you think and what you care about. “There are two elements beyond investment performance separating firms with high satisfaction from those with low satisfaction: the person that investors credit for their investment performance and the relationship investors have with their advisor,” said Craig Martin, director of investment services at J.D. Power & Associates. Showing personality gives people something personal to like and relate to.

4. Drive engagement

Writing and publishing blog articles and social media content also creates an opportunity for your information to be shared through various platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, which in turn drives more readers to your website. A bonus is that by blogging you can keep your social media presence going without having to create a lot of other new content on a regular basis.

5. Generate traffic (the good kind)

Ultimately, blogging is a way to drive readers from comments, likes, and shares to go to your website. Readers probably found your content by doing a search about the information they need or in which they are interested. If they like what they read they will more than likely check out your website and your services. This will connect them to the information they wanted and allow them to explore the financial advisory products and services you offer.

6. Improve SEO

There is a fairly direct correlation between blog posts and website traffic with abrupt growth at 300 to 500 pages, and a huge jump at 1,000 pages. What this means is that every time you write a post, it adds one more indexed page on your website. This gives you another opportunity to show up in a search engine and drive traffic to your site. Just because you posted content to your blog a month, a year, or even 3 years ago, does not mean that it is “old content.” Quite often website traffic is driven by people finding older posts in their search engine request. The content you post will continue to work for you even long after you may have forgotten about it.

7. Create consistency

When writing content it is important to use a consistent voice or tone. When you do this successfully it gives a reader a feeling of who you are, what your values are, and even an idea of what kind of person they might do business with. A study by McKinsey & Company of 27,000 American consumers found that a consistent customer experience across the entire customer journey increases satisfaction, builds trust, and boosts loyalty. A reader that sees the consistent content that you are providing, and likes what they see, can very likely become a long time follower and, eventually, a client.

8. Grow your audience

Content on your website can be shared on social media profiles and via email newsletters. This means that one well-written piece of content can have three or more marketing uses for your online presence. This not only saves you time but also reaches more viewers on multiple platforms. The more people you reach, the easier it is for potential clients to find you.

As a marketing consultant, it is my job to make sure that my clients are getting the most out of their content. Working with financial advisors, I have seen how writing effective blog articles on relevant topics boost website traffic.

I have seen my clients’ website traffic increase after publishing well-written blog articles on a consistent basis. I have been working with one of my clients, GW Financial, Inc., and their content marketing efforts over the last few years. We began by posting at least four articles per month to their blog. This simple effort has caused the traffic on their website to double in the last two years. This can easily be attributed to the increased visibility through content creation. This client has also seen an impressive increase in website traffic via sharing content on social media. Two years ago the numbers were minimal, now there has been a 3,300% increase, with Facebook actually dominating that number with well over 60% of the clicks.

While creating quality content may take a little time and getting it to the right people is important, the payoff is outstanding and will be well worth the effort. You can position yourself as an industry expert while providing something of value to your readers and building relationships.

Seven Steps to Create a Great Tagline

Your financial advisory firm in one phrase:

  • “The happiest place on Earth.”
  • “Save money. Live better.”
  • “You’re in good hands.”
  • “It’s everywhere you want to be.”
  • “A diamond is forever.”

Great taglines stick in your mind and will forever be associated with the company it represents. A tagline tells potential clients something about you, your advisory firm and how you help people. It needs to be memorable and set the tone for your business. It may help some clients choose between you and another advisor and establish brand awareness.

How do you create the perfect tagline? Here are seven steps and guidelines that will get you heading in the right direction.

1. Brainstorm

This step is just what it says. Take some time to write out what your business does, what benefits you provide, what makes you different, and what is your focus or target. Don’t leave anything out at this step and don’t edit. The goal here is to get it all out on paper and get a few different ideas. Some advisors may have an idea of what they want their tagline to be and others may be starting from scratch. By having a brainstorming session, you can at least see if there is a reoccurring theme that keeps coming up.

2. Be clear and concise

You don’t have to be overly creative when developing your tagline. There is no rule that says it must be cute or catchy. It helps for it to show a little personality, but you also don’t want to confuse people with strange or complicated wording. It is a good idea to consider working in an action word into your tagline: investing, helping, creating. This action word will help show people what you do.

3. Stay relevant

Try to keep any current trends or fads out of your company’s tagline. What is relevant today may not work in the years to come. You want your brand to have staying power and not seem dated or old-fashioned when the next year comes. This guideline is especially true in the financial industry. As markets change and investors’ feelings change, you do not want to have to change your brand identity with it.

4. Revise and edit

Keep working with it. Change things around and don’t hesitate to put it down and come back to it in a few days. A tagline will become part of your company’s brand and what you represent. Make sure you are happy with what you have.

5. Ask for feedback

Get those around you involved in the process. Be sure to have associates in the firm involved.  You can also ask friends, family and your spouse. Having outside people take a look and give you feedback may provide another perspective that you have not thought of. You can also ask your top clients for their preferred options or if they have any input. They are your target audience after all, and may be able to provide valuable insight as to what they think represents your business.

6. Follow a few guidelines

  • Keep it short. Less than ten words. It can be a sentence or two short statements, but not a paragraph.
  • Remember it isn’t about you. It is about what you provide and the benefits that clients receive.
  • Avoid clichés or commonly used catch phrases.
  • Be sure to ask yourself, “So what?” If you can’t answer this one question, then keep working and go back a revise.

7. Use an example

I worked through this process with a client of mine, Oatley & Diak, LLC.  They are a family run registered investment advisory, and family values are their focus. After listing out several options, we narrowed it down to their top three and then they asked for feedback from key people. Those key people chose “Investing in Family Values.” They took the new tagline to their board and it was approved. This particular tagline is perfect for them. They knew that having a family-centered focus was important, and, being a financial firm, the term “investing” also worked nicely in more than one way. It is short, it tells the benefit that they provide, and it rings true to their firm.

If you don’t have a tagline go ahead and challenge yourself to get started and create one. This process can take a few weeks or a few months. Set aside the proper time to create this powerful statement that can help define your brand.

Thoughts on Naming Your Practice

Your business name is your firm’s first impression to the public and potential clients. Choosing a name is a critically important decision and choosing a good one drives revenue. Choosing a confusing name or one that is hard to understand will lead to spending as much time explaining your company name as in finding new clients.

Your name

A business name made up of your family name and the industry you work in can be just as effective as any other. For example, if your name is John Smith and you want to start a financial advisory firm, then calling your company “John Smith Financial” can be extremely effective.

You can also play off the meaning of your first name as well.  A client of mine was starting her own wealth management firm and had worked through several options for a company name.  By searching the meaning of her first name– Lori– we found that it means laurel tree, or sweet bay tree, which are symbols of honor and victory.  She ended up using this information and choosing “Laurel Wealth Management” for her company name.  It was a perfect mix of personal meaning and symbolism for a successful business name.

One problem with naming the business after yourself is that it can be difficult to sell the business to someone else when you try to retire. This may be a problem down the road, but it is something to consider when creating your name.

Geography

Geographic names can sound professional and give the impression that your company is the official business in your industry for that area. For example, if you have a financial firm located in Lockport, NY that you call “Wealth Advisors of Lockport,” that can sound as though your company is the primary financial firm for the area. That perception can create instant credibility with prospective customers, vendors, and financial lenders.

This has a few drawbacks. It will be very difficult to relocate your business should the need ever arise.  Using your city/location in your name may also deter any non-local potential clients from seeking out your business for services.  This may not matter to some types of companies but with the use of the internet, potential clients can search you from across the street or across the globe.  Don’t let your name be a reason someone doesn’t contact you.

Personal preference

Some company names act as riddles that require solving. But as long as the name contains enough pertinent information, then a slightly special name can be an engaging marketing tool. If you want to start a firm and your favorite color is green, then you can call your company “Green Financial Planning.”  An entrepreneur looking to start an office may like the beach or sun and decide to call his business “Sun Wealth Management.”  The names are effective because they identify the company’s industry. They also act as ways of opening up a discussion with a prospective customer.

There can be a temptation to take it too far.  Your customer base has to be able to draw a clear line between your business name and what it is that you provide.  You also don’t want to turn off any potential clients with a poor name choice.  Think “Fast Money” for someone who likes fast cars and works in finance.  This may not be the best association for a financial firm that wants to instill trust and loyalty in clients.

Creativity

If you are really stuck for a business name, then use a creative approach. Write a series of random words on small pieces of paper, put them in a box, and then draw two or three of them out. Place the words on a table and start putting them together to make phrases. Write down 10 phrases that you find, and then do it again. Once you have a list of around 50 possible names, start narrowing them down to the top five. Then have your friends and business associates let you know which one is best.

It can seem like a careless way to name your company, but when you are stuck for inspiration, it can be the best way to break through that creative block. You may also surprise yourself with the variety of interesting names you come up with. Some options can be strange, but the process can also bring forth some very exciting marketing ideas.

Chose a name that endures

A business name should be planned out and have significance for you. The name you give your organization will be the cornerstone of your company logo development, the inspiration for your company tagline and the front-end of most of your marketing.

If you choose unwisely it can become a very costly mistake.  More money will have to be invested into impressive marketing campaigns and even expensive name changes in the future.  Think about everything that has your company name printed on it from business cards to building signage.

Spend time working through your options and choose a name that will stand the test of time.

Six Ways A Marketing Consultant Can Help You

There are a few traits that most financial advisors have in common. They are all hard workers, they strive to create a lasting legacy for future generations, and they have a passion to create their own company that provides value to customers. Something else that most of them have in common – they are not marketing professionals.

Financial advisors may not have the experience or expertise needed to develop an effective marketing strategy; they may find it hard to move the strategy into an actionable plan, convert web traffic into clients, or have a hard time using social media in the right way. It is a difficult task to create a compelling strategy and implement it in the right way with the help of countless marketing tools. Rather than just “getting it done” or keep pushing It to the bottom of the to-do list, it makes more sense to hire a marketing consultant to help you do what you set out to do – keep your current clients happy, and get new clients.

There are many reasons and benefits to hiring a marketing consultant.

Specialized expertise and experience.
I would never try to give someone financial advice or offer to manage someone’s investments.  Most consultants often have 10+ years of experience in their industry and stay up to date with the latest trends. They track and analyze different data points to make your business as successful as possible.  Additionally, these professionals understand that business growth depends on creating and managing strategic relationships with other business professionals and referrals. When you hire a consultant, you can be confident that he or she knows what to do and will get it done.

Consultants are objective… and smart.
One of the major benefits of hiring a business consultant is getting a fresh look at your company’s standing from a professional who is familiar with different types of businesses, or better yet, similar types of businesses.  Wouldn’t it be nice to know what your competition is doing right and wrong? A business consultancy will always have the advantage of being impartial, and seeing what your business needs to be successful. Leveraging a consultant’s experience will help you run your business more effectively and avoid making mistakes in the future.

They can help you build a brand and a plan.
A reputable and experienced marketing consultant will know the importance of understanding your business goals, creating a strategy that works, and implementing that strategy.  They will also help you select the best marketing tools for your business. This strategy can include things like identifying the target audience, putting together a comprehensive marketing plan, and even optimizing your website’s design to make it more attractive to prospective clients. In addition to that, a marketing firm can help you plan your marketing campaigns to retain and add to your current client base. They are also available to set up an action plan to calm the fears of your investors when the market changes.

They understand the big picture.
Developing and growing a business can be more difficult than many financial planners expect.  Business development includes a series of processes and techniques that are very important for actually growing the business.  Expansion is only possible if the owner understands that the concept that the full client experience matters.  From onboarding a new client, to taking steps to retain loyal clients. A marketing consultant will have processes in place to make sure that this often forgotten fact is not overlooked.

You have resource gaps.
There are never enough hours in the day or people in the office.  There is always that one thing that needs to get done, but everyone is already busy taking care of their specified job responsibilities.  How do you determine who will log-on to Facebook and make your business posts, who will design, write and send out your newsletter?  None of these are related to financial planning but they are all vital to the success of your business – and they are important tasks. Instead of taking someone off a higher payoff task to take care of these, you should seek outside help.  A marketing consultant will not only know how to complete these task, have the tools to do so, but it is also part of their job responsibilities.

They are more cost effective than another employee.
According to an article from Investopedia, it can cost 1.5 to 3 times the proposed salary to hire a new employee, train them, and account for the adjustment period for productivity. So not only is there no HR and new hire paperwork, there is no additional overhead, no turnover, and they are already trained and 100% productive from day one. They don’t need to learn the job they were hired for – they are already trained, probably experienced, and well researched in the area.

Should you hire a marketing consultant?
It’s really up to you. If you wait until you are ready or you “need” it – it’s likely too late.
This specialist is capable of performing and monitoring a variety of assignments that are crucial for growing a business without taking away from yours’ or your staffs already full plates. They organize their strategies based on your feedback and their expertise. It really is a perfect partnership.

The struggle may be in creating an effective small business marketing strategy, implementing it, meeting marketing and business objectives, or lacking the skill in taking your business to the next level. Hiring an experienced business consultancy can help you save a lot of time and trouble, as well as increase your profits.

Whatever the reason may be, a marketing consultant can infuse some much-needed life into a financial firm.