Darren Cooke (pictured) and Martin Bamford explain how to build up an image, both for yourself and for your business.
Director, Red Circle Financial Planning
I have become known as the ‘pension scams guy’, but I did not start the campaign [to get Parliament to debate a ban on cold calling] to build up my own profile.
Know your audience
I like to keep the focus local. A podcast might generate a lot of client interest, but how much of the work that comes from that can a small IFA firm realistically take on unless they are planning to deal with it remotely?
All my clients are within an hour’s drive of my office in Derbyshire, and I deal with them all face to face. You have to know what type of client you want, and how many you are after, before deciding on any kind of self-promotion.
For this reason I do not refer to my awards or the pension cold calling campaign on any of my material. I prefer networking, meeting fellow professionals and doing a good job for clients.
The best way to build a brand is just to do a good job and be professional, and ensure that people know they can refer clients if they want to. I have had a number of intergenerational referrals, including one in which a father referred me to his son, who then referred me to his daughter, so that is three generations of clients from one family.
That said, I have recently received a client enquiry from a guy who saw me on the TV and only lives 50 miles up the road.
Start from the ground up, with good practice and personal connections.
Managing director, Informed Choice
Building a brand starts with understanding what you are trying to achieve. There is no sense in building your profile for the sake of it. For our firm, it was about sharing our messages about how to go about independent financial planning and our family values, and having a clearly defined set of services.
Do not be afraid to blow your own trumpet and make noise, as long as that message is clear and consistent. You sometimes see people do it for a week or a month and then go quiet, but it takes years to establish yourself. People need to learn what you stand for, so consistency of message is key.
Spread the message through different platforms, as people need to see it six or seven times before it really resonates. We started with blogging, and have been making podcasts for around three years. We also appear in national and trade press, and more recently we have been more active on social media.
Say it as you see it
It is useful to have opinions on topical issues and to voice them. There is nothing more boring than saying: ‘yes, I agree’, and I am a strong believer in strong opinions loosely held, meaning if someone can convince me otherwise, I am willing to change my mind. Do not be afraid to call it how you see it, even if it might cause upset.
Establish a clear, consistent message and stick with it.
What Twitter thinks
Phil Bray, director, The Yardstick Agency
Content is king: blogs, video, podcasts, depending on your audience. Write it, record it, then promote it.
Decide on your niche (based on your expertise, experience, knowledge), then set about demonstrating you are a ‘go-to’ expert. Content is a great way to do this. Write, record then promote through appropriate channels.
Victor Sacks, director, VS Associates
Blog, post and talk about the benefits of financial advice and why advice should be sought.