Using your Name, Image, and Likeness to Differentiate as a Financial Advisor

The financial services space is definitely not short on sports references. 

“Investing is a marathon. Not a sprint!”

“Your financial advisor is your financial quarterback.”

But have you, as a financial advisor, ever tried taking a cue from the sports world and using it for yourself? Here’s what I mean.

Over the past couple years, the college sports world has been transformed by the changes around name, image, likeness (NIL). They can use their name, image, and likeness for their own monetary benefit. I’ve been personally involved in the effort at Oklahoma State University through our business school and athletic department partnerships, The Brand Squad, and I wrote a textbook for educating student athletes.

In more ways than one, NIL is the perfect recipe for building a personal brand, shaping a marketing strategy, and helping student differentiate themselves in a crowded space; here’s how you can take a page out of the student-athlete playbook and use your own name, image, and likeness as the basis for financial advisor marketing. 

Define Your Brand

In today’s digital world, building a brand is more than just having a business card and a bland bio on a website about where you went to school and what certifications you have. People want to see truly authentic and personal touches. Afterall, you will be handling their finances and be part of their most important life milestones — births, graduations, home purchases, weddings, and, eventually, retirement. 

Your brand is your digital persona. If you don’t control it, people will make their own assumptions. So, start by doing an audit. What does your current brand say about you? Does it accurately reflect you and your way of doing business? 

Next, it’s time to make adjustments or completely start from scratch depending on what your audit revealed. How would you define your brand? What is your mission and values? Those may seem like business school buzzwords, but they can really help get the meat of what sets you apart. Whatever you come up with, just keep them true to yourself. Don’t just go with vague words or cliches. 

Of course, working with a professional is going to be the best way to start this journey. A financial advisor marketing expert like myself can help you run through important exercises like identifying a brand archetype or running through a BARATA brand essence exercise. It’s not always easily apparent how to communicate what you stand for on your own.

Differentiate Yourself

Now that you have created a strong brand, you will need to find a way to make your brand stand out to your target audience. 

It may help to think about some brands you already know and how they differentiate themselves. For example, think for a second about the difference between Southwest Airlines and Delta. Southwest is always focusing on their quirky fun and how bags fly free. Delta is more formal and caters more toward business travelers or those who want some more luxury like airport lounges and definitely don’t want to wait to board to know where they are going to sit. Neither is right or wrong; they’re just different. 

So, what is different about you? What makes you more than just another average advisor? What value do you bring that others cannot? Whatever points you come up with will be a huge part of your brand message. 

Create a Marketing Plan

A strong, unique brand that differentiates you from the crowd is great, but you have to have a marketing plan in order to leverage that brand into actual business. Otherwise, you have a brand that no one knows or cares about.

First, remember that you are using your name, image, and likeness to build trust. Authenticity is key. Too many people start social media accounts and share article after article. They only talk about themselves or their business. They forget to be, well, social. It takes time to read and listen to what others are sharing or saying, but that’s exactly what you do as an advisor, and you need to show that you can do that in the digital world too.

Next, keep your audience in mind when you build your marketing plan. If high-net worth investors are the leads you want, you may want to focus more on webinars and referrals instead of Instagram ads, for example, if you know that demographic prefers a more hands-on approach. But, Instagram ads and TikTok videos with quick tips may be just the ticket to grab the attention of younger Millennials and Gen Z prospective clients.

Finally, stay consistent. You don’t see Geico all of a sudden going from funny commercials with the gecko to serious ones. They have a brand and they’ve stuck with it. And now it’s stuck in our brains. That’s how your brand identity and the frequency at which your market your brand should be. Of course, you need to be flexible. Social media wasn’t a thing 20 years ago, but today you have to be on it if you want your business to thrive. So make sure your marketing plan is consistent and can still evolve as needed.

Maribeth Kuzmeski, PhD, President of Red Zone Marketing, is a marketing strategist, advisor to financial services companies, bestselling author of seven books, and a professional speaker rated as a Top 25 C-Suite Speaker as seen in Meetings & Conventions Magazine. She speaks on topics including marketing, branding, sales, and customer service.

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