Why your personal brand matters
Creating a personal brand may seem like ‘guff’ say Loco Communications’ Sandra Paul and Jane Day but people with good brands create personal value, have huge client loyalty and can charge more
The power of ‘brand’ is undeniable. Good brands are clearly profitable but ‘bad’ brands take the hit in their pocket. Good brands have huge client loyalty and can charge more – people are not just buying the product, they are buying into the experience. Brands that do not place such a great emphasis on reputation or customer care, suffer – whether that is through losing customers or a lack of referrals – the end result demonstrates that investing in ‘brand’ makes economic sense.
Professional advisers should aim to be brands too. You may well have the skills and talent to be a success but it is your reputation and your efforts to promote it that will propel you further. Building a powerful personal brand will help you succeed in today’s market; your brand will increase your earning potential because the value you add, the contribution you make, will be far more visible to a wider audience.
Building an edge
Personal branding sounds like guff to many people but it is about taking a strategic marketing approach to the impression you create and the impact you make. The real challenge is to distinguish yourself from your peers, creating a distinctive edge for yourself that promotes your own personal brand.
The first step in establishing your brand is differentiating yourself from the competition; as a strategy that could be from the other planners in your firm, the other firms in your region or rival networks or providers. Think: Why should clients come to you? What is your edge and how can you evidence it?
Persistency rates, personal or business awards, client testimonials – all of these combine to create a powerful and lasting positive effect on the people around you and help you answer the question, ‘why would anyone buy me?’
Raising your profile
Big companies use advertising and public relations as a matter of course to communicate their messages. Communicating your brand to your peers and stakeholders is essential and you should use all the tools available to you.
Blogs, newspaper columns, your website – technology is a great enabler in providing airtime where you can reinforce your brand. Setting up a blog that your clients can access is an immediate and effective way for you to keep them up to date and informed about market conditions. And it’s a great sales tool if used in the right way.
Position yourself as an expert for local media (radio, TV and newspaper). Write letters to the editors about topical personal finance developments, provide a local perspective on housing marketing activity, and exploit key dates such as the budget or policy announcement dates to give your views on how the news will affect the listeners, viewers and readers.
Contribute to trade magazines discussion forums. Share your views on the news. If you know what you are talking about why be shy about it? It all contributes to building your brand.
Decide how you want to be judged and act that way, consistently.
It is essential to live your brand. People will only trust your brand promise if you walk the talk. Having taken advice from you once, why would a client come back to you again and again? If you don’t have anything of value no-one will care. The object is to build brand loyalty.
Treat yourself as a product and sell it
It is a common refrain but it is so true: You are never so valuable to your employer than when another employer is interested in you.
Employers may try to contain employees and strict corporate communication controls can often make spokespeople apprehensive about letting personality and personal viewpoints shine through.
Yet some of the best consumer brands are where personality does shine through. It is difficult not to mention Richard Branson, but he makes the Virgin brand more human and approachable. Think about using your technical expertise to propel yourself to the status of industry icon or major commentator on financial services issues.
Build your own network
This industry is full of networking opportunities. You need to be clear about the people that are important to you and create your own network rather than following the pack. And remember, at a networking event, you need to be able to communicate what sets you apart.
Align yourself to a winning campaign
This is an extension of your distinctive edge. And if there isn’t a campaign that already exists, champion the cause. It might be in education, or helping Citizens Advice Bureau. You might offer your services as fund-raiser for a local charity, or you could start your own work experience project for local kids. Whatever you decide to get involved with, it will enable others to gain a more meaningful understanding of your brand.
1. Claim your territory
2. Decide how you want to be judged and act that way
3. Get visible. Treat yourself as a product and sell it
4. Build your own network
5. Align yourself to a winning campaign