Build Me A Website. Who Cares What It Says!
Recently I had an advisor contact my firm to request a quote for building him a custom website. He clearly understood the value in having a custom site to suit his functionality needs. We went through the standard process of determining what he wants the site to do – capture leads, allow for downloads, play video, include a news room for his recent media placements and more. When it came time to discuss the content and what he wanted his site to say… he had no plan, no “message” to convey, no rhyme or reason for anything – he said, “Just write something that sounds good…”
That’s a lot like hiring a contracting company to build you a house. You know you want a house that functions – it needs a roof, walls, electricity and plumbing – but not having any opinion on how that house looks from there. How many different ways could that house turn out? In order to be successful in any marketing project where you’re building materials from scratch, you need to have a plan. As with anything – failing to plan is planning to fail. (Sound familiar??)
This is the wrong way to approach what is likely your company’s most turned-to piece of marketing literature. Sure, functionality is very important. If you’re going to spring for a custom website, then it had better serve all of your very important purposes. So what’s the “right” way to have gone about this? To get the most out of your investment, the site needs to LOOK like your brand, and it definitely needs to SOUND like your brand. The solution is to take the time to determine what that “brand” is.
I find that very few advisors actually understand their unique brand. This is the single most important thing when it comes to your company’s marketing. You must establish the foundation and framework to which all other things will be built upon. If you aren’t clear on what you do and why you’re better, then how will a prospective client ever figure it out?
The branding process allows you to determine your important brand attributes and messages one time – to be used ALL THE TIME, in every single marketing action that you take from today going forward. As I’ve been known to say – if you stick to your messages, your messages will stick. (And if you don’t, then nothing will stick!)
The branding process is two-fold. The first step is to define your core brand elements – this is your company name, meaningful imagery and brand mark (not a word art image), a reflective logo, tagline, URL, company colors and whatever else makes up the look and feel of your professional financial advisory firm.
Then, once you have the look, get clear on your message. The second part of the branding process is definitely more involved. It can be tedious if trying to go at this alone – but the end results are the jewels that you will use to market your business indefinitely. The branding process will help you to determine: your unique expertise and competitive advantage; the specific problems that only you can help your clients and prospective clients to solve; how to position your skills, expertise and strengths when compared to other firms; the processes and call to action offerings that only you can provide; the key messages to incorporate into all marketing collateral, and more.
I recognize this sounds overwhelming, but it’s not. It’s an upfront investment of time for the clarity and precision you need to build your dream “company” – just like you would take the time to build your dream home. Done once and you’re home free.