When it comes to marketing your practice, you can always tell the world how great you are and possibly have some success with that strategy. With that said, the most successful advisors go beyond self-promotion and elevate their marketing to a whole new level by generating third-party credibility.
Third-party credibility is recognition or endorsements from people or groups outside of your organization. The most common forms of third-party credibility are reviews, endorsements, online fans, awards and media placements. By earning and leveraging this level of respect and visibility, you validate your own marketing claims and bolster the overall perception of your brand.
Reviews and Endorsements. There’s been plenty written about the SEC guidance update published in 2014, which clarifies the modern application of the testimonial rule as it relates to review sites like Yelp, Facebook and Google, so I won’t focus on its specifics. But the important thing to understand is that the update provides avenues for investment advisors and IARs to earn and leverage reviews from these sites.
Some advisors fear that having a presence on review sites may eventually lead to one or more negative reviews. In reality, an angry client or disgruntled employee can post a negative review on those sites whether you currently have a presence or not. And a negative review all alone is more damaging to your reputation than a negative review among many positives.
Online Fans. A large, engaged social media following shows your clients, prospects, business associates and peers that you are popular on those networks. It serves as an implied endorsement of your industry excellence and expertise. If you have a sizeable following that reads and shares your blog content, one way to leverage that activity to visitors on your site is to add a counter to your blog’s share buttons. That way, they’ll be able to see the dozens or perhaps hundreds of share you receive on a given post.
On the other hand, a small and inactive following can have the reverse affect on your brand’s credibility. It shows that you aren’t engaged with your online audience, or worse, it implies that you simply don’t care.
Awards and Media Placements. Awards represent excellence in your field or your community. When they come from reputable organizations, they provide a remarkable credibility boost. They are something you can display on your website and leverage to your target audience to separate you from the competition.
Earned media placements, like being quoted as an expert in an article or being featured on a TV segment, have a powerful credibility impact because they demonstrate that these news outlets trust you and view you as an industry expert. When leveraged effective, media placements can strengthen a brand and open new sales pipelines.
The opportunities described above will rarely, if ever, come to you without action taken on your end to attract them. If you don’t have the time or ability to generate them on your own, consider hiring a person or a firm who specializes in creating and leveraging third-party credibility. By adding this approach to your marketing mix, you’ll take your marketing efforts, brand perception and business growth to a powerful new level.