DOES YOUR PRACTICE HAVE A MASCOT?
Four years ago, Brian Haney, CFS, CLTC, was thinking about how his company (founded with his father and in which his younger brother is also a partner) was branded. The family of dog lovers determined that a bulldog logo would help communicate to clients why they do what they do.
“Bulldogs are extremely loyal, very attentive and very caring,” said the 10-year MDRT member from Silver Spring, Maryland. “It creates a conversation about why this represents our brand and opportunities to utilize this in certain print materials and in our unique capability statement.”
It also speaks to Haney’s efforts to distinguish the practice (which does most of its business with affluent families in the association market) in the digital space. When he began an independent practice after five years in banking, he recognized the importance of establishing a digital presence that didn’t rely on a larger company — so that clients buy the advisor, not just the company.
That means an independently designed website, rather than one connected to an advisor’s parent company. For Haney that also extends to using micro websites to reach specific markets. So he bought several domain names (including protectmyexec.com, association401kbuilder.com and pleasehelpmeretire.com) that his team is building into an extensive digital “net” to capture more opportunities. These sites, intended to be SEO friendly and built with the audience in mind, are planned to be fully launched in early 2020.
These aren’t the only ways Haney uses technological savvy to connect with clients. He has seen a lot of success through podcasts and videos as well.
A lot of what this does is improve subject-matter expertise and brand visibility in primary markets we’re in.
Haney posts new episodes of his podcast, “That’s My Financial Guy,” every two to three weeks to increase his status as a subject-matter expert. Launched in 2019, episodes cover topics such as college funding and financial vision casting. They typically run 27 to 45 minutes, meant to last the length of most people’s commute.
On the podcast, Haney interviews a variety of financial professionals and industry thought leaders. This approach enhances his business partnerships and provides education to a broad audience, who can then connect with him if desired.
The podcast aims to show clients and prospects he is not someone talking at the marketplace but an approachable expert interested in conversation.
In addition, Haney uses transcripts from the podcast as white papers. He promotes the material across social media platforms, where he identifies himself not just as a financial professional but podcaster, speaker and more.
How does he do all this? Fortunately a friend of Haney’s has had his own podcast for years and is contracted to handle everything on the production side. “Find the right partners who will do what you cannot do,” he said. “I wouldn’t do it if I had to do it myself; that doesn’t make sense from a cost perspective.”
Using the Swish app, Haney has added his branding onto short, professionally made videos that match with his communication strategy and expand his brand identity. For example, he might help promote his podcast as “a total slam dunk” while showing a basketball player doing just that.
Moving forward, he plans to produce more of his own videos to create his own library of material. Currently clients can subscribe to existing educational videos, which also include webinars.
Sometimes these endeavors lead to referrals from contacts or new clients who discover Haney’s digital material. He has been asked to hold succession planning workshops because of associations who have seen his videos.
But Haney emphasizes that the benefits of this technology may not always be so concrete.
“Not everything you do necessarily generates some sort of direct business lead,” Haney said. “A lot of what this does is improve subject-matter expertise and brand visibility in primary markets we’re in. So when people are thinking of XYZ, they think of us because they’ve seen or listened to something.”
3 technology commandments
If you’re going to create and share digital content of your own (be it a podcast, video series, newsletter or otherwise), Haney advises leading with these principles:
- Honor thy brand. The most important consideration, Haney said, is the value proposition of your brand. The material you create should further that identity and mission.
- Consider thy audience. Make sure the people who will consume your content fit into the audience you want to reach, and that you are delivering your message in the format most likely to connect with them.
- Produce quality over quantity. Just because something exists doesn’t mean it is accomplishing its goal. The crucial question Haney asked himself was not “Why wouldn’t we do a podcast?” but “How can we develop a podcast people would want to listen to?”