By Karen Huller, CCTC, CPRW, CCHT
Whether you want to attract new clients or have your clients take your advice more often, branding is an investment that will pay off in spades. At its best, branding is a bridge between the unique value you offer and who is willing to invest in it. It’s a way to create resonance with an audience most likely to invest in what you offer. When done well, it accelerates rapport, and rapport is a necessary ingredient in influence.
You don’t have to know someone personally or intimately to have rapport. Think about your favorite celebrities. Even though you may have never met the person, you still feel an affinity with them. There are probably acquaintances among your Facebook friends or LinkedIn connections with whom you feel the same kind of affinity – people you think you would enjoy spending time with if you had the chance.
Effective branding helps you bring closer those who feel that way about you. When it comes to cooperating or collaborating, branding can give your voice greater credibility and help you discover common ground to be more successful contributing your expertise.
In order to create resonance, you must first do some reconnaissance. Seek to understand the unique value that would be relevant to your audience by asking the following questions.
Who Are They?
Who is your ideal target audience? Go further than narrowing it down to demographics. Who are the people with whom you have found it easy to build rapport, whether in personal or professional relationships? Go back to your favorite celebrity: what do you like most about them? What is their mindset, values, hobbies, behaviors?
Where Are They?
Where can you find more people like those celebrities? Where are they interacting?
- LinkedIn or Facebook groups?
- Professional organizations?
- Industry conferences?
- User forums?
If you already have a fair number of these people connected with you on social media, have them take a poll. Incentivize them with a chance to win a prize – something you think would be ideal for your target.
By reaching out to groups of potential clients, you can also learn what their major pains, challenges, and initiatives are so that you can speak their language when you are offering your unique value.
What Do They Need and Want?
Connect the dots between what your audience is experiencing (be it avoidance of pain or a drive for pleasure) and what you are offering. Don’t be tempted to be everything to everyone. This is counterproductive to brand building by turning clarity into cloudiness.
To help with clarity, establish a history by leveraging testimonials (on video whenever possible), LinkedIn recommendations, and site ratings.
What Do You Have to Offer?
The introspective part of this process is challenging. It is difficult to be objective about how you are unique. Here are some questions you can ask yourself that will help you identify the value you offer without sounding like everyone else:
- What are your top three professional values?
- What do you most attribute to your past successes?
- What would your past clients say that they enjoyed most about you? (Which is, of course, something you can ask them.)
Craft a few bullets that include qualities, talents, and experiences with the outcomes desired by your audience. This becomes the foundation of all of your content, messaging, and copy. The most powerful format for branded content is stories. Craft stories that demonstrate each branding bullet.
Once you have branded content, marketing and influencing become more of a downstream activity than an uphill battle.
Not only are you attracting target clients, but you are also making it easier for you to be effective in working successfully with them on their financial strategy. More success stories mean even more powerful and plentiful testimonials, easier attraction of more ideal clients, enhanced joy in your work, and less money on marketing.
When you are committed to your clients’ success, branding is a critical, yet common sense, investment to make.
Karen Huller, CCTC, CPRW, CCHT, is leadership brand and career strategist and coach at Epic Careering in King of Prussia, associate professor at Cabrini University in Radnor, and instructor at the Young Entrepreneurs Academy in Fort Washington. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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