When thinking about personal branding, the first example that always comes to my mind is my father’s professional path. It is not a typical story. He didn’t graduate from an expensive college, land a great position at a big corporation, and live happily ever after. In fact, he never went to college.
He started working in the waste and recycling industry 30 years ago and his first job was as a trash truck driver. Fast forward to the current, he is now one of the most reputable and respected businessmen in the waste and recycling industry in California.
What does his success story have to do with personal branding? I can say with utmost certainty - a lot. But before telling you exactly why, let us examine the following:
What is personal branding anyway?
The idea is actually pretty simple. Personal branding is the practice of creating a brand using people’s personalities and professional expertise. Combining these two ingredients creates a personal brand that can be used as a marketing tool.
It is a continuous process that aims at building and then maintaining a certain authority for an individual or a particular group/organization.
Effective personal branding requires extensive knowledge and awareness of your own strengths. Once you have that, you can use it as a competitive advantage to create new business opportunities.
I don’t encourage you to be uneducated or unwilling to learn. My point is, that obtaining a degree or a certificate doesn’t magically open the doors to success - a common misconception that many people still live by.
Moreover, traditional education is not a necessity. My father’s professional story is a perfect example. So, what is the main thing clients want, if not that? Companies and people in today’s modern society are looking for the added value you can provide to them.
You have to give your clients a reason for choosing you over your competitors, by showcasing your unique way of doing business. Ask yourself questions like:
- - How do I want to be perceived?
- What sets me apart from other advisors?
- What is the main thing I want people to associate me with?
Answering these questions will lay the foundation for your personal branding.
And if you still have any doubts about whether or not it’s worth investing in your personal brand, I think the next paragraph will banish any remaining hesitance. So, without further ado:
Why is creating a personal brand important for Financial Service Professionals?
Unfortunately, being a professional in the financial field is not without its challenges. Financial experts can often be blamed for events like the 2008 crisis and other economic disasters. We all agree that it is not justifiable to place all financial professionals under one umbrella.
However, it is a fact that most Americans don’t trust financial advisors. Therefore, it is vital to create your personal brand in a distinguishable way. If you don’t have a personal brand that speaks to your target audience in a positive way and builds trust, you will be perceived as just another brick in the wall offering nothing special and of true value.
Furthermore, when you consider that the work of financial advisors is extremely important in people’s lives, this shouldn’t be ignored. After all, you are responsible for your clients’ financial health and success. You provide them with certainty and peace of mind knowing that their hard-earned cash is invested wisely and that they are protected.
Individuals wouldn’t just go to the first expert who promises the highest returns. They are also looking for someone reliable who understands how to build a relationship with their clients and appreciates their values.
Here is the opinion of Gary Vaynerchuk on why personal branding is important:
“It’s important to build a personal brand because it’s the only thing you’re going to have. Your reputation online, and in the new business world is pretty much the game, so you’ve got to be a good person. You can’t hide anything, and more importantly, you’ve got to be out there at some level.”
He also says:
“You have to understand your own personal DNA. Don’t do things because I do them or Steve Jobs or Mark Cuban tried it. You need to know your personal brand and stay true to it.”
Gary is an excellent example of successful personal branding. If he wasn’t, he wouldn’t be quoted so often, or perhaps, at all.
Building your personal brand helps not only the image you project to clients, but also assists you in understanding and becoming more conscious of your values and the way you approach your business.
This is what helped my father in his journey. His values are built on honesty and hard work, as well as constant learning and improvement - the ability to adapt to changes. Above all, continuously implementing these principles throughout his career made him the authority in the industry he is today.
So, now that you know why building your personal brand is an important milestone to your success, we can continue with the 5 essential steps to great personal branding for financial professionals.
#1. Stay Abreast of Industry Trends
Needless to say that in the financial sector one of the major things all professionals should be doing is staying informed. Following trends and keeping abreast of updates in the area is vital.
The ability to adapt to rapid changes, and educating yourself and your clients regarding the sudden changes constantly taking place in the financial realm, shows a high level of expertise. Demonstrating your determination to always provide exceptional service, creates authority and trustworthiness.
Another important aspect is to allow your personality to shine through in your publications. Sadly, financial topics can be exceedingly boring sometimes, especially to a non-professional. So, spicing it up with a little bit of creativity, originality, and even humor can make your publications more engaging.
Don’t be afraid to get more personal. This is a way to establish your personal brand presence even further. Try to inject the key values and messages of your personal brand into your content as much as you can. Following this strategy over time will grant you space in people’s minds.
#2. Be Different in an Enticing Way
Let’s expand on what I mentioned earlier - building your unique position in the market. You should define the key difference in the way you treat your customers compared to your competitors. What is the single most important thing that sets you apart from the rest of the crowd?
Answering this question will help you find your unique selling proposition commonly known as USP. Your USP shouldn’t be merely an idle statement. Claiming that you are “reliable” or that you “provide a high quality service” won’t do the job, since everybody out there promises the same thing. Your USP has to stand out and be of true value to your target audience.
However, it has to be defensible as well. You have to be able to incorporate it in your personal branding, as well as the products and services that you are offering and the way you are offering them. Here is an easy, yet practical way to craft an amazing USP.
#3. Leverage the Power of Social Media
Social media is one of the most powerful inbound marketing tools you can use to build your personal brand. Big corporations also use it extensively to appear more humane and to get closer to people.
When talking about personal branding, it could be even easier to implement this strategy as it is more natural. After all, as we’ve discussed, people tend to trust other people much more than they trust entities. And currently, a large number of the world's population is using social media, with newer generations in the lead.
If you utilize social media effectively you can build a strong personal brand and grow it over time, attracting a larger audience and ensuring your long term success.
Social media can help you not only to be more likeable to your clients, but your value also increases in the eyes of recruiters and other businesses. For instance, it is not a coincidence that Social Media is the most preferred channel for B2B marketers:
A great social media platform for financial service professionals is LinkedIn. It has been neglected over the years as other channels like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram attracted more users and traffic.
LinkedIn has grown exponentially in recent years, and is not only used for posting jobs any longer. In 2020 the users of LinkedIn have grown to more than 575 million. Another interesting finding is that LinkedIn is 277% more effective for lead generation as opposed to Facebook and Twitter.
In this great post Daniel Hanzelka shares some more amazing stats regarding LinkedIn. He touches on both B2B and B2C aspects and stresses that only 4% of financial advisors are using LinkedIn to connect with their targeted clients.
#4. Focus On Building Trust Through Your Personal Brand
As we touched on earlier, trust is a major concern, and not only in the financial sector. A global decline in trust is definitely concerning but if anything, it can be used as an advantage. If you manage to build your personal brand as an honest and trustworthy one, it won’t go unnoticed.
Be straightforward and focus on solving people’s problems. An important aspect is feedback. As you develop your personal brand you can expect some challenges, since people will sometimes be dissatisfied.
Managing negative feedback is extremely important, so don’t ignore it. Using a tool like TalkWalker Alerts can help you remain in the know whenever your personal brand is mentioned in the online space.
Respond to negative client experiences and rectify the issue. If you are able to do that, these individuals are likely to turn into a loyal customer, since they know you will promptly sort out a problem when it arises..
You have to be an active listener. To be able to constantly upgrade, you should learn from your mistakes.
Examine the discussions about you. What do people think and say about your service and your personal brand? How do they feel? Take all the positives with you and try to rectify any issues.
#5. Use The Power Of Networking To Promote Your Personal Brand
Seek to connect with like-minded professionals from your industry. Contribute your efforts to local communities and participate in professional discussions. Join great directories like FinancialAdvisors.com to grow your credibility and collaborate with others in your area.
Try some networking groups in your area where you can spread the word about your personal brand and learn how others promote themselves as well. This is also an amazing way to familiarize yourself with the current business environment.
You can make a good impression by volunteering for a charitable organization. You can also be a guest speaker at an industry event. Educating young students is another great way to give back to others. Teaching is the greatest way to learn, so don’t think that this only benefits everybody but yourself.
Being able to provide value outside of your work will make your personal brand stand out, and allow people to perceive it in a positive way. Here are some additional reasons you might want to network:
So what’s the next step in building an astounding personal brand?
It is actually pretty simple. Just follow the 5 steps we shared in this article. If you implement all of these awesome ways to build and promote your personal brand, the results won’t take too long to show.
And remember, your personal brand is not only what you show to people. Your core values should be noticeable in it. It will reflect in the way you do business and ultimately it will establish your personal brand.
The assertiveness with which you build your brand, will help you reach heights you never imagined possible.
Thank you so much for reading 5 Steps To Personal Branding For Financial Service Professionals. We really appreciate it! If you have any questions about our article, or can suggest any other topics you think we should explore, feel free to let us know.
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Robb Fahrion is a Co-Founder and Partner of Flying V Group. He is passionate about helping businesses grow using the power of the internet. Robb graduated from Chapman University in Orange, CA and currently resides in Costa Mesa, CA. Robb enjoys writing about digital marketing, helping his clients turn their dreams into reality, and he is a HUGE Mike Trout fan.