A DJ, a publicist and a financial adviser sit down on a stage together. The question: How can RIAs better their brand and name recognition through marketing? I recently attended this intriguing discussion when my Gregory FCA colleagues and I traveled to the first-ever Future Proof wealth festival in Huntington Beach, California, where advisers and financial services firms gathered at an outdoor venue in shorts and t-shirts.
Doug Boneparth, president of Bone Fide Wealth, led the session titled, “Building a Brand: A view from outside the industry.” The views and advice came from Mick Batyske (aka MICK), a notable DJ and entrepreneur; Sandra Gabriel, founder of Gabriel PR and a branding and public relations professional working with lifestyle, fashion and travel firms; and George Acheampong, managing partner of Capitalwize, LLC, and founder of VC firm Afro Capital.
Although the first sentence of this blog post might sound like the start of a bad joke, the trio delivered relevant content highlighted by relatable personal anecdotes. At the core of the conversation was how each individual found that “Aha!” moment that enabled their brand to thrive. Here are the three key takeaways that I feel apply to RIAs and advisers looking to break through a sea of sameness, and gain better perspective on building a brand in a social media-driven world:
● Batyske: For me, MICK’s story was about self-awareness regarding the “box” he created around himself and his brand. Pegged as a DJ who only played a certain genre of music, MICK found initial success but knew he was more than that. With little, authentic tweaks such as dropping the use of the term “DJ,” MICK was able to position his brand beyond being just as a turn-tabler. This allowed him to break through into new areas and meet new people. Another example was his use of social media. He doesn’t just post images of himself DJ-ing because that wouldn’t authentically represent him, as he doesn’t DJ from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. MICK has a family too and engages in other activities. By sharing that part of his life, he delivers a more well-rounded picture of who he is and what he’s about, connecting with a larger audience.
Advisers are knocked over the head time and time again about being authentic in their communications. Conducting A/B testing like MICK has — where he would try different approaches to branding himself with different audiences — and sharing more insight about you, your employees and life (if you’re comfortable with that) could lead to clients and prospects seeing a more authentic side of you. This would support the ultimate goal of building stronger relationships and enabling you to access new and exciting business opportunities.
● Acheampong: As a financial adviser himself, Acheampong understands the unique complexity of building a brand in an industry driven by numbers and ROI. And if you want to stand out, telling people how great you are as an adviser isn’t the way to do it. Acheampong’s brand was built on providing value for his clients. Almost every communication that goes out is centered around helping clients, not promoting himself or his businesses.
“Attracting the audience you can deliver value to is really important,” he said. “If you can’t deliver value to someone, it won’t work.” Acheampong left audience members laughing by saying they have the power to “trick people into growing their wealth” through taking fun and different approaches to showing value as an adviser — whether it’s done through education, surveys or games.
● Gabriel: Transformational brand value isn’t an overnight achievement and Gabriel knows that consistency is key. The challenge is that not everyone is willing to put themselves out there on social media every day to only get one like, a mean comment or no engagement at all. However, if you want to build a meaningful brand, you have to commit to a schedule of content that builds upon itself — whether quarterly, monthly, weekly or whatever other frequency.
I think many advisers feel this is much harder than it actually might be. If you or someone on your team understands what you want to deliver to your audience, a few minutes a week spent on planning and writing can go a long way. As a full-service PR agency, Gregory FCA strongly emphasizes social media initiatives. I’ve seen clients who didn’t get it at first, but now recognize social media as a core part of their marketing funnel. The key is consistency. It’s silly to put out a tweet to 100 followers and expect 100 likes. But if you put out 100 quality tweets over the course of a quarter, you’ll likely generate hundreds of likes for those posts and draw more followers.
It was great to attend this panel at Future Proof that offered so much authenticity and realism related to building a brand in the financial world. It’s a lot like working out — significant results typically won’t be seen in days or weeks but rather months or years. You can partner with a firm like ours that offers expert help, or just commit to putting some lessons into practice and staying consistent on your own. Either way, the playing field has never been more fair for individuals and firms, big and small, to build meaningful brands that help bring in new business and improve communication with existing clients.