Influencers aren’t just TikTok dancers these days.
Anyone growing a business must have some presence as an influencer with a strong personal brand. That’s certainly true for financial advisors and others in the financial services industry.
Business owners, as the face of their companies, can’t be shrinking violets or claim that their work speaks for itself.
For Rene Nourse, founder and CEO of Urban Wealth Management Group in El Segundo, California, establishing her bona fides meant tying her message to client needs. Her firm specializes in working with women and people of color.
To reach prospective clients, Nourse developed a media and speaking platform. Between 2013 and 2019, she was a guest commentator on CNBC’s “Closing Bell.” She was also a panelist and presenter at prominent conferences, such as the TD Ameritrade National Linc Conference, and was included in the national ad campaign for Charles Schwab in 2020 and 2021.
She also served as vice president of the National Association of African American Financial Advisors, known as Quad-A.
But she didn’t stop there.
“Due to my primary focus on working with women, I formed a club: Smart Women/Savvy Money,” she says.
She started a private Facebook group to help women feel smart and savvy about their financial lives.
Nourse says the key to building a platform as an expert is to “have confidence in yourself.”
It’s certainly possible to be motivated by observing others’ marketing methods, she says. But, she adds, “You don’t have to replicate someone else’s policies and procedures in order to be successful.”
Finding Your Focus
For Taylor Schulte, founder and CEO of Define Financial in San Diego, narrowing his target audience was a big step in expanding his platform.
“For the first half of my career, my core message was very broad,” he says. “I was trying to reach and help everyone and, for that reason, my core message didn’t stand out from other professionals in my field. It also wasn’t very memorable. I looked and sounded like everyone else.”
By narrowing his focus to specialize in retirement and tax planning, potential clients got a better understanding of what his firm does and how he can help.
Charesse Spiller, founder of Houston-based Level Best, helps financial planners and financial entrepreneurs run more efficient and streamlined businesses. She also found that a more narrow focus on her services and clientele helped her business grow.
“I was falling into the habit of catering my services to each specific client need. I was also experiencing ‘scope creep,'” she says. “Once I decided to ‘productize’ my services and focus on only what I am good at, I have a better work-life balance, more engaged clients and a higher revenue-generating business.”
Those changes also allowed Spiller to grow her virtual team.
The larger team is partly a reflection of her decision to rename her business, which previously was simply her name.
“My main goal was to attract more consultants to the firm, so we can serve more clients,” she says. “It was hard to provide a vision to potential team members with the brand being tied to my name. I also felt that my prior brand did not clearly represent the results that my clients were receiving.”
Creating Original Content
Schulte blogs and currently hosts two podcasts, which he says help set him apart.
“Having an opinion and putting it out into the world is scary, which leads many people to avoid it entirely or take the safe route and repurpose content from a third-party source instead,” he says.
Schulte says advisors can start small when developing a platform. He began by writing for a local newspaper and raising his hand for every podcast or radio interview he could find.
“Those experiences turned into creating my own writing and podcasting platform, which led to bigger speaking opportunities and interviews,” he says. “I’ve also made it a point to maintain good relationships with the media and my colleagues.”
That strategy paid off.
“All of our new clients find us organically through the content we are publishing,” he says. “This is much different than when I started my career and had to rely on outbound sales tactics to try and grow my business.”
Benefiting Through Connections
Schulte also benefits from connecting with other advisors.
To make that easier, he and fellow advisor Justin Castelli created the Advisor Growth Community, a private, online community for financial advisors to learn from one another. The community has grown to more than 140 financial advisors around the world.
“It has been one of the most rewarding ventures for me and has helped me grow personally and professionally in ways I would have never imagined,” Schulte says.
While working with the media is an established way to develop a strong marketing presence, it’s not the only way. As business students learn: Marketing begins with the development of a product or service.
As an operations expert, Spiller built her business through client referrals, but recently began public speaking to reach a bigger audience and create brand awareness.
“This has been the most effective way to position myself as an expert,” she says.
Leveraging Social Media
Like Spiller, Winnie Sun, co-founder and managing director of Sun Group Wealth Partners in Irvine, California, focused on her strengths while developing the messaging for her business.
She turned to skills she developed in her previous career finding audience members and filling seats for television shows including “America’s Funniest Home Videos” and “Judge Judy.”
That experience showed Sun the power of an audience and community. For her, audience-building takes place on social media.
For example, she hosts a popular weekly Twitter chat that draws contributors from around the world. Recent topics included love and money, and diversity and inclusion.
“When I first started dabbling in social media, so many people were telling me I was wasting my time and that I should just stick to doing seminars and relying on client referrals for new business,” she says.
Yet Sun’s social media platform has helped her bring in clients she would not have met otherwise. She cites the example of a radiologist connecting with her on Twitter, which led to the doctor’s medical group transferring its pension plan to Sun’s firm.
In addition to her wealth management practice, Sun hosts “Level Up with Winnie Sun,” a business lifestyle show aired by Nasdaq, Amazon Fire and Roku. She has a daily “Level Up” show that streams live on YouTube and hosts another live YouTube show, “Modern Mom.”
She also does public speaking and is working on a book.
Although her multifaceted media approach works for her, Sun emphasizes that other advisors should leverage their own strengths when building a platform. She adds that a large social media presence isn’t necessary for advisor success.
“For other financial professionals looking to position themselves as experts, I’d say: Focus on your interests and your skill set,” she says. “Be your true self, but always keep your end goal in mind.”
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How Financial Advisors Establish Themselves as Industry Experts originally appeared on usnews.com