Earlier this month, the local Philadelphia Tri-State Area Financial Planning Association (FPA) chapter gathered for its Annual Spring Symposium right in Gregory FCA’s backyard in Malvern, Pennsylvania. The symposium is always a great day of education and networking for area advisers, and this year we were asked to host a panel session on adviser marketing best practices.

Our very own President of Financial Services Joe Anthony served as moderator of the panel, which included Dave Geibel of Girard, Christine Hennigan of 1847Financial and Brent Weiss of Facet Wealth. These insightful panelists discussed different avenues RIAs can take to leverage their expertise and build brand awareness in the ever-evolving industry, whether they don’t currently have a marketing strategy or are looking to augment their initiatives. Here are a few top takeaways from the panel:

Inertia is your only competitor

Geibel emphasized that RIAs aren’t competing with Vanguard, or even the RIA next door. Rather, they’re competing with the inertia of people who aren’t looking for a financial adviser. This point really resonated with the panel. As a relationship business, it’s essential to create relationships and show people who aren’t in the market for an adviser just how you bring alpha to the table. Hennigan echoed the sentiment that it’s impossible to compete with endless ad budgets, but heavyweight companies help bring awareness to important issues that enable industry experts from all walks of life to chime in — via an online news article, trade industry publication or company blog.

Building credibility is key

When a client or center of influence refers your business to someone, what is the first thing that person will do? Google you. While having a website is standard practice for any business today, social media is also becoming table stakes in the RIA space. Facet Wealth has a very refined niche, which is clear from their owned internet assets. But in addition, Weiss is creating content as a thought leader in that specific space and leveraging the media. Having a recent appearance on CNBC, a quote in The Wall Street Journal or even a column in your local newspaper about personal finance allows you to gain credibility via third parties and amplifies your “trust factor.” Once you have these elements in your arsenal, use them. Leverage clips, links and quotes by sharing them with clients, prospects and trusted referral sources. Show that you have something to say and want to help people improve their financial lives.

Start small but think about what’s next

It can be intimidating to start from the ground up, but Geibel says to crawl before you think about walking or running. When you don’t have resources at your disposal, think about the little things you can do like building your personal LinkedIn network. If you’re good at creating content, get it out there. Technology and social media have changed the game, as there are so many more outlets now than there were 15 years ago. Prospects and clients have significantly more ways to consume information, while attention spans seemingly wane. Hitting as many channels as possible is the end goal, but start with what seems attainable.

At the end of the day, it’s all about being intentional. Advisers are more strapped for time than ever, so whether you’re networking and relationship building, creating a blog or leveraging the media, think about why you’re doing it, and what your goals are for your business and brand.