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Building a Strong Digital Brand

Gwendaline Mazzara March 15, 2021

A strong digital brand for financial advisors

Having a digital marketing presence in wealth management is now table stakes. The pandemic really accelerated what was already in motion in terms of digital adoption.

Financial professionals need to meet investors where they are spending time, which is online. And this really goes for everyone, from Gen Z to Baby Boomers. More than 50 percent of advisors who use digital marketing believe email campaigns and online events are effective in generating leads from Baby Boomers.1

In a recent study2 Fidelity conducted during the pandemic, of the end-investors who were newly advised or had recently switched advisors, 34 percent mentioned that they use social networking sites, and 29 percent used online search to find their advisor. This compares to just four percent using social networking sites and 8 percent using online search pre-pandemic.

Building a Strong Brand Is More Important Than Ever

Last year, Cerulli3 surveyed a range of high-net-worth to ultra-high-net-worth U.S. individuals and identified a key area for advisory firms to focus on: value differentiation.

Specifically, they cited that RIAs will face differentiation challenges as a result of regulatory factors and increased competition.4 So we’ll likely see a rise in fee-based advice, coupled with growing adoption of financial planning, starting to undermine the ability to rely on fiduciary status as a value proposition.

As the competitive landscape continues to be squeezed, it’s critical to differentiate your services and have an enduring brand story.

The Building Blocks of Your Story

In my role within practice management, I often do consultative workshops to help advisors unlock and develop their story. A common framework we use is focusing on the: why, who, what, and how.

First, you need to be super clear on your core purpose—that’s your why. Why you do what you do? What unique problem are you looking to solve for your clients and the industry as a whole?

Then, the who. Who can you help with that problem? Who is your target audience?

Next, the what—what are the breadth of services you offer?

And finally, the how. How you do it better than your competitors and how does it benefit your clients?

Testing and Validating Your Story Matters

Digital marketing can help you build your brand, generate leads, enhance the client experience, and complement referrals.

So, if you want to grow, a good marketing hygiene practice is to regularly audit your brand with feedback from clients or prospects to validate your competitive advantage. Test your story by asking those you serve, your centers of influence, even friends and family.

Requesting feedback makes a difference. We compared net promoter scores5 (NPS) of advisors who asked for feedback regularly, meaning they did so within the last six months, and those that did not. Those that asked for regular feedback had an NPS score of 57, while those who never did had an NPS score of 32.

Clearly, collecting feedback and adjusting accordingly played a role in the overall client experience.

Knowing Your Audience

The deeper you define your target audience, the more impactful your digital marketing efforts will be. Define your buyer persona (the who) beyond just age and investable wealth. You want to consider a more behavioral and lifestyle-related markers so you can develop a holistic client profile.

This may be done by narrowing down a range of demographic characteristics and answering some big questions like: What do your buyer personas need? What are their fears? What are their perspectives on wealth status? It’s important to understand your scope, and then tailor your services and experience around that.

To help convince prospects and make your services more relatable, I suggest developing scenarios and stories that demonstrate how you helped your top clients address a particular problem. How did you scope the problem? How did you continue to help? Tie it all together as a case study of your ideal client.

Amplifying Your Brand Through Your Digital Voice

Content is your intellectual capital, your “digital voice” that helps to differentiate your brand. To generate leads and drive awareness to your brand, use content that matches stages of the buyer’s sales funnel: awareness, consideration, and conversion. Explore a variety of formats but remember to keep the content in context of your buyer’s perspective.

  • Awareness. Write a blog, eBook, or other piece of content that speaks about a common problem of your target market.
  • Consideration. Provide additional content such as a case study or webinar, that features a deeper look into how you are tackling that problem for clients.
  • Conversion. Create and share an infographic on the benefits of working with an advisor, with your core competencies, to address that problem versus not.

Digital Marketing One Step at a Time

Often times, we want to tackle so much—website, social media, digital advertising spend—that we have trouble just getting the ideas off the start.

What marketing best practice firms do differently is most of them have an intentional approach, with a written marketing plan and dedicated spend on marketing. Marketing that is done thoughtfully and intentionally can not only power growth but differentiate your offering and get you noticed.

To learn a bit more about strengthening your brand around your target audience, and what digital marketing tactics to prioritize, watch the webinar I recently participated in with eMoney Building a Strong Digital Brand or download Fidelity’s comprehensive marketing eBook Diving into Digital Marketing for further insights.

Sources:
1. 2019 Fidelity Financial Advisor Community—Digital Marketing Study, n=474, June 2019.
2. Investors considered pre-pandemic were those that had the same advisor through the pandemic.
3. “U.S. Retail Investor Advice Relationships 2020: Accentuating the Value of Advice.” Cerulli Associates
4. “COVID-19: Insights Beyond the Curve.” Fidelity Investments, September 2020.
5. 2020 Fidelity Investor Insights Study, n=1,181, October 2020.

eMoney Advisor LLC is a Fidelity Investments company and an affiliate of Fidelity Brokerage Services LLC and National Financial Services LLC.

Fidelity InstitutionalSM provides clearing, custody, or other brokerage services through National Financial Services LLC or Fidelity Brokerage Services LLC, Members NYSE, SIPC.
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DISCLAIMER: The eMoney Advisor Blog is meant as an educational and informative resource for financial professionals and individuals alike. It is not meant to be, and should not be taken as financial, legal, tax or other professional advice. Those seeking professional advice may do so by consulting with a professional advisor. eMoney Advisor will not be liable for any actions you may take based on the content of this blog.

The views and opinions expressed by this blog post guest are solely those of the guest and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of eMoney Advisor, LLC. eMoney Advisor is not responsible for the content, views or opinions presented by our guest, nor may eMoney Advisor be held liable for any actions taken by you based on the content, views or opinions of the guest.

About the Author

Gwendaline Mazzara is a vice president of practice management and consulting at Fidelity Institutional (FI), the Fidelity Investments business that offers financial professionals and institutions access to the investment, technology, and platform solutions they need to service their clients and grow their businesses. Fidelity Investments is a leading provider of investment management, retirement planning, portfolio guidance, brokerage, benefits outsourcing, and other financial products and services to institutions, financial intermediaries, and individuals. In this role, Ms. Mazzara helps registered investment advisors, multi-family offices, and broker-dealers grow their business by leveraging marketing, public relations, and sales strategies. She also provides custom business consulting and develops and delivers proprietary practice management programs. Prior to joining Fidelity, Ms. Mazzara served as managing director for a boutique alternative investments market research firm, where she was responsible for building out their European division. She also served as a senior sales executive at SS&C Technologies, selling front-middle-back offices systems to asset managers and hedge funds. She started her career in Silicon Valley, working in both tech startups and Fortune 500 consumer product companies, such as Mattel and Sony, growing and managing international sales, overseeing product development, brand development, and marketing. Ms. Mazzara earned her bachelor of arts degree from Smith College and her master of business administration degree from the University of California, Berkley. She also holds the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Series 7 and 63 licenses.

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Welcome to
Heart of Advice

a new source of expert insights for
financial professionals.

Get Started

Tips specific to the eMoney platform can be found in
the eMoney
application, under Help, eMoney Advisor Blog.