Building a successful brand, even if this is only in your local area, is critical for establishing effective pull marketing – and effective pull marketing makes your life much easier because all you do is your job and the clients come to you.
So how do you build a brand? Professor David Jobber identifies seven main factors in building successful brands and, this time, we will look at the first three.
Step 1: Quality
It is just a given that your advice and service to clients must be good. If for any reason you do not do what you say on the tin, building a brand is impossible. Even the one-person local IFA who has no interest in brand building has to deliver on some basic ‘core benefits’ the ‘IFA brand’ implies. For example, most clients seeking advice from an IFA would expect:
- Impartial advice
- Independent product recommendations
- Advice appropriate for their specific situation
- Phone calls and emails returned within an appropriate time period
- Paperwork completed right first time
- All administration work dealt with in a reasonable timeframe
- Courteous and friendly staff interactions
- A feeling of being listened to
Step 2: Positioning
Positioning is about establishing what your brand stands for in the minds of consumers and, for IFAs, this will vary by business type and business ambition.
Consider a boutique style IFA with five RIs and which wants to focus exclusively on top-end financial planning advice for high net worth individuals. Its positioning will need to reinforce its absolute quality to help its target audience see clearly this is the place for them. The quality of its premises, the look and feel of its documentation and the process it takes people through to deliver advice will all need to match the absolute quality message.
Contrast this with a larger IFA with 100 RIs that is aiming more at the middle market. If it simply copied the strategy of the boutique firm above, clients would be confused – consciously or unconsciously – as to what this business stood for.
The positioning of your business will need to focus on a range of issues including:
- Brand name
- Service standards
- Product guarantees
- The advice delivery process
Step 3: Repositioning
This is a critical issue for any long-standing IFA that is trying to transition from an old-model to a new-model business. Repositioning is undertaken when an existing brand tries to change its market position to reflect a change of direction decided strategically by the business owners or to respond to a change in consumer tastes. In the world of pop, stars such as Madonna and Kylie Minogue have been able to reposition their brand many times to stay current and hip.
In the IFA market, changing demands from consumers is a key factor driving change. The move from an up-front commission sales model to one based around renewal income and fees for advice is largely in response to consumers’ biggest criticism of our industry – that something was sold and the adviser was never seen again. Obviously this is not what people are after.
Repositioning can be achieved by reviewing the list of positioning factors shown in Step 2 above and making them more appropriate or relevant to the clients on whom your business really wants to focus.