Hearsay recently hosted The Psychology of Building an Effective Personal Brand, a webinar focused on providing practical advice on how to build a strong personal brand in the financial services space featuring expert panelists Tim Rickards, Hearsay’s Director of Social & Content Strategy, and Lee Friederiksen, Doctor of Psychology and Managing Partner of Hinge Marketing.
Here are the top takeaways from this engaging webinar:
- Make yourself known as a ‘visible expert’.
Becoming an expert is an amazing achievement, but if no one knows you’re an expert, your efforts won’t help you build your business. Sharing expertise with others is a big differentiator that helps expand your network and attract new clients.
- Be deliberate and helpful to build trust and client loyalty.
Whether you help military families, parents of children with extra needs, bereaved spouses, or families caring for aging parents, selecting a niche gives you a runway to develop highly specific and relevant content that serves your business.
- Follow the personal branding success formula.
After you identify a niche, it’s time to move to execution. To build a personal brand as a visible expert, you must: 1) develop strong content, 2) use relevant platforms to share content with your target audience, and 3) link people to a branded landing spot where they can learn more about you.
- Collaborate with experts in your space for extra leverage.
The benefit is twofold. For one, you’re able to expand your capacity to be helpful based on the expertise of an adjacent expert in your space, which gives you more content to share with your network. Secondly, you gain exposure to another expert’s network of clients and potential clients.
Want more? Watch the replay or read our webinar recap below.
Why develop a personal brand
Lee says, “The number one reason that people select one person over another to work with is because of their industry knowledge or subject matter expertise.” That expertise helps build trust and provides clients with confidence that they’ll be able to make sound financial decisions thanks to your expert guidance.
However, it presents a bit of an ‘if a tree falls in the woods’ scenario. If you’ve done all the work to become an expert—by studying, getting certifications, and so on—but that expertise isn’t visible, it may as well not exist. On the flip side, if you build an ecosystem of highly visible platforms where you can showcase your expertise (i.e., optimized social media profiles, a personal website), there’s a ton of value to be gained. These resources help you build trust and solicit new business.
Lee explains that sharing expertise also creates a ‘halo effect.’ He says, "Agents and advisors benefit by being associated with a firm that has a trusted reputation, and firms benefit by being associated with visible experts who serve as thought leaders in their field.”
Finserv trends impacting personal branding
Tim highlighted different ways agents and advisors can lean into current trends to help build visibility as subject matter experts.
Trend 1: Generational wealth transfer demographics
Looking at buyer trends, millennials are nearly 2x more likely to use their mobile device to research potential insurers, next-gen buyers are 2-7x more likely to be influenced by an agent or advisor's online presence (or lack thereof), and 40% of next-gen investors find an advisor's online presence a critical factor as they evaluate who to go to for advice.
Tim says, “This shift presents an enormous opportunity for people in the financial services profession but carries with it a set of behavioral changes and adaptations you need to keep in mind. Younger people are more likely to look online for help and information.” Also, given the metrics on mobile usage, it’s important to make sure your website and other marketing assets are mobile-friendly.
Trend 2: The evolution of prospecting
Cold calling is out; warm outreach is in. Using direct lines of communication via social media and text is growing in popularity. Referrals are also happening on social platforms. A recent survey from Putnam said that almost 50% of affluent investors are willing to introduce their advisor to a LinkedIn connection.
Tim says, “[Agents and advisors are] getting new business from their activities on social, and that isn't going to change. Consumers have reached a pivotal point where they’re comfortable using social media and digital tools to find advisors and insurance brokers."
Trend 3: The power of social algorithms
“You have an extraordinary opportunity in front of you. You control the content that you share, and you control how you share it and when,” says Tim.
If you follow best practices by consistently posting personalized, relevant content, evaluating what works, and adjusting your strategy to prioritize posting the type of content that drives the most engagement, you can become more visible, extend your reach, and use social algorithms to your advantage.
Consistency is key to getting your expertise and brand in front of a broader audience.
Trend 4: The value of video
Want to make sure your message sticks? Users remember 95% of the marketing message from a video—vs. just 10% of a text-based promotion. More importantly, nine out of 10 consumers say video helps them make purchasing decisions about a product or service. It’s a simple tool with outsized returns.
Video serves as an especially engaging way to connect with potential clients on social media. Stripping away emojis in favor of ‘face time’ and revealing your personality helps social connections build trust faster because they get a better sense of the real you.
Trend 5: The power of newly accessible testimonials and endorsements
“Thanks to the SEC's modernized Marketing Rule, which went into effect last year, testimonials and endorsements are now less complicated to use compliantly, making them much easier to pursue,” Tim explains.
There are many good reasons to embrace testimonials as a powerful marketing tool:76% of consumers rely on endorsements to validate the credibility of a person or company before doing business with them, web pages with testimonials have a 34% higher conversion rate, and 72% of consumers will only take action after reading a positive review.
How to develop and grow an authentic personal brand
Lee suggests you start by clearly defining your target audience or niche. Focusing on a particular type of client makes it easier to communicate why you’re the best fit for customers who want help managing their unique financial needs.
Lee says, “zero in on that particular client and think about what services you offer that are most beneficial and what issues you can help solve. Once you’ve identified those things, talk about them! Make your expertise known.”
As you consider a niche, turn the lens inward and think about whether there’s anything you’ve experienced in your life that’s unique. Sometimes the answer is right in front of you.
Once you’ve narrowed it down, created strong content, and identified and built out engagement platforms, it’s time to make sure your prospects have a place to land.
“It’s critical that you have an online destination that acts as a landing page for people who are coming from your various other marketing efforts,” says Tim. “The idea is to use social as your primary promotional broadcast channel and then lead people to a location, such as a site, where they can get more information. Think about this as an ecosystem that you manage and nurture.”
Generating relevant content
Lee says, “People are often afraid they won’t have enough things to talk about, but if you really focus on the reality of your target customer’s situation, you'll find there are lots of things to talk about that are relevant and helpful.”
He encourages agents and advisors to seek out online communities that are relevant to their target audience, be it Facebook groups or other specialty forums. He says, “Understanding the relationship between who you're specializing in and the easiest ways to reach them will make your marketing tasks much simpler.”
The value of reciprocity in content and on social platforms
Related to content, Lee adds, “The best-kept secret is the role that other experts can play. Some people think of other experts as competitive, but the beauty is other experts help you build credibility. Being associated with other experts opens up many possibilities within the financial services ecosystem.”
To nurture relationships, Lee suggests that you “...share expertise with each other's clients and collaborate on joint webinars or speaking engagements. It’s a win-win because it makes you better while serving your clients and forging powerful industry-adjacent relationships that can result in referral business thanks to the halo effect.” Tim adds, “These collaborations let you amplify what you’re doing without any extra effort.”
Engaging with your existing network can also be extraordinarily powerful—but requires social reciprocity to foster long-term success. In other words, don’t just share content; respond to everyone who engages with you. Doing so builds goodwill among your network, ensuring that all those who engage with you feel valued, and helps expand your social reach.
Tim says, “When you have good social reciprocity, you send signals that you are a valuable and active person. As a result, social algorithms tag you as a valuable contributor, which increases the likelihood that your content will be seen by your network and your connections' networks over time.”
“The concept of authenticity is very important. The more ‘lived’ and ‘real’ your experiences are, and the more authentically you feel it inside, the more likely you are to be well-received by the public,” says Tim. “Making an effort to connect through human experience makes it easier to post better content because it's coming from a place that's meaningful to you.”
Lee adds, “You have to have strong content, a proven way to promote your content to the right audience, and a place to send people. If you put all three of those things together, you really have a very powerful formula that will help you become a visible expert..”
In short, focus on giving without expectations of receiving. This approach empowers you to demonstrate goodwill and build trust, which ultimately results in earning respect, generating referrals, and developing a strong personal brand that positions you as a visible expert.