Marteting Vertical

3 steps to brand, market, and sign up clients 

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Executive Summary

  • Define your advisory services and your firm.
  • Integrate your brand across all communications channels.
  • Be authentic and genuine; prospects can spot an inauthentic personality right away.

Before you can acquire new clients, you have to know what to sell them. That’s why my first article in this series showed you how to determine exactly which advisory services to offer. Next, you have to know how to find these ideal clients, the focus of the second article in this series: How to identify your ideal clients. If you have not read these articles, there’s no better time than now, because in this article, I’m going to teach you how to close the deal through branding, marketing, and new client recruitment.

It’s not enough to know what you want to sell and be great at delivering it. Unless prospective clients know who you are and what you stand for, they will never buy services from you—or it will take a superhuman effort on your part to get them to buy.

Think about it. At first, your prospect isn’t thinking of you at all. How could they? They don’t know you. The cliché “Build it and they will come” is false. A better aphorism is “Build it, then you must tell them what you’ve built.” You must tell prospects why your services matter to them and what crucial problem you are solving, and only then they might come.

Here’s the three-step approach I use. Apply it consistently and you should get great results, too.

Step 1: Establish your brand

Tax accountants were made for tax and accounting, not for branding. Very few accountants I know establish a brand from day one, but the ones that do tell their audience exactly what they stand for. Branding starts with the question, “What do I want to be known for?” A great example is Geni Whitehouse’s The Impactful Advisor. Once on her website, you will know exactly who she is and what she’s about.

Solution: Create a brand-strategy document; some may call these “brand architectures.” Here, you’ll lay the groundwork about who you are and which advisory services you specialize in. You must include:

  • What you are.
  • What you are not.
  • Words that fit your brand, also called brand attributes.
  • Words you should never use.
  • What your voice is: serious, edgy, light-hearted, eccentric, conventional, or something else.

Neither a mission nor a vision statement is enough unless you have a clear and concise idea of just who you are. The alternative is that you become everything to everybody, which means you are “nobody to everyone,” or just another accountant.

If you have never read anything on branding or scared to start, read what I believe is the bible of branding, “Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind,” by Al Ries and Jack Trout, or “Focus: The Future of Your Company Depends on It,” also by Ries. Looking for a more modern book on branding? Then give read Pia Silva’s “Badass Your Brand: The Impatient Entrepreneur’s Guide to Turning Expertise into Profit.”

Step 2: Coordinate your touchpoints—everywhere!

Once you’ve finished creating your brand strategy, you must integrate it across every touchpoint you have on all communication platforms, including your website, newsletters, blogs, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and any other relevant social media. This also includes your email signature. 

Solution: Identify where you’ll interact with your target market the most. Will they find you in webinars, email newsletters, YouTube, or through other social media? How do you want them to perceive your brand in terms of your advisory services? In this case, you may benefit from contracting with creative director. Unless you’re already a wizard at branding and marketing, you will need someone who understands not only human interactions, but also the power of your voice. Reality check: great creative directors are not cheap; lousy ones are. The same goes with great designers, writers, editors, and PR firms. Skimp now and the only thing you’ll be cutting is your client base.

Step 3: Be authentic, be genuine

If your brand is not authentic, you will come off as a hack. Too many people today try to be who they are not instead of being proud of who they are. If you are not yourself, prospects will eventually see through you, and you will have lost their trust forever. Authenticity applies not just to yourself, but to your staff, vendors, and audience.

Solution: Identify who and who you are not. Be honest with yourself and your employees. Call yourself out in areas where you’re weak. Remember that your staff and clients already know who you are, even if you are lying to yourself. Confucius said: The wise man knows who he is not more than who he is. Wise counsel. Once you’ve identified the authentic you, insist that every part of your brand center on this authenticity.

Wrapping up this series

Integrating advisory services into your practice takes time, talent, and a great deal of effort. No one goes from being a tax preparer to tax advisor overnight, but by building a diligent plan and focusing on the kinds of advisory services you want to offer, identifying your ideal clients, and figuring out how to reach them, you will be well on your way to a successful advisory practice. Start today!

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