When you think of a brand with a good shopping experience, what comes to mind? It’s probably not just a place with a product you enjoy, but a store where you can easily find what you need, with intuitive aisles and checkout processes, well-staffed with knowledgeable employees, and likely with a website that you can navigate easily if you want to do online research or shopping as well. The full picture, physical and digital presence both helpful and well-presented, with service that comes to you and maybe even uses your name.

Have you considered how you can replicate that as a financial professional in your own spaces? Every business owner has space to utilize with both current and prospective clients. These spaces can be used to demonstrate your distinctiveness in a teeming marketplace. Generally, you’re working with two types of spaces, physical and digital.

Every client interaction is a touchpoint, and therefore an opportunity to make yourself and your brand unique and memorable. Let’s start with the physical space, your office or meeting places. Physical environment has a huge impact on how someone will react. Think of the dessert prompted you to buy it because of how appealing it was under the lighting in the glass case. Your own kitchen lighting when you presented it to your spouse? Not as impressive, even if the flavor is still delicious.  It was the lighting that made you buy it. 

Now take that into your office. What is a prospective client’s first impression when they walk into your office? Do you have a tv constantly scrolling through financial news in the reception area? Pull your clients’ attention away from just the numbers and help them consider a holistic approach—travel or home improvement shows will help them consider the future and what they’re really planning for. Same for any available reading material. Old Wall Street Journals will not make the same impact that photo books from places you’ve been or even your own town will have.

What else do you have on display? If you’ve had the same wall art since the 90s, it’s probably time to update. Local photography or art by local artists, complete with little plaques bearing the artist’s name and piece details remind clients that you’re part of your community, as do photos or other commemorative pieces showing charitable work you and your office have taken part in. Commitment to the health of your community is something that will make you stand out over someone whose office feels sterile and removed from the setting.

Next it’s time to re-examine where the action happens. Where are you meeting with clients when they come into your office? Do you have a conference room that oozes corporate minimalism, or have you made it a more intimate setting that encourages discussion? Natural light from windows, round tables rather than harsh long rectangles, and plants can all soften and enliven a setting and make clients feel more at home.  Family photos or memorabilia that display your personal interests remind you and them that you’re in the business as a human being working to improve things for those in your life, be they family or clients.

Even your presentations can help create the image you’re looking to project. Make use of design and technology to showcase your brand and distinctive edge during meetings. Modern brochures, interactive presentations, and tech used in meetings show that you’re continuing to build and improve. Clients appreciate knowing that cutting edge technology is being used not just in meetings, but behind the scenes when you’re managing their accounts and constructing portfolios. 

In today’s financial world, the digital space has become as important as the physical one. Virtual meetings increasingly take the place of physical ones for many clients, particularly those who are younger or who lead busy lives. Consider what your side of the call looks like to your client. Do you opt for a custom background with your company logo? If so, you’ll want to ensure that the background is sophisticated and matches the rest of your branding. Home offices are increasingly welcome as well, however, take a look at your branding here too. Even if you’re home, professionalism is key. Make sure that your equipment is up to par to present you as well as you’d be seen in person. Whatever part of your home that can be seen should be tidy, and you can practice how you present as well. Have you ever really watched yourself on a video call? Pay attention to where to look, what do to with your hands, and other aspects that you may have only thought about in terms of your college acting experiences.

Of course, the other digital space for your brand is the realm of the internet, where social media and websites lead the charge toward making your business a success. Digital networking is a way to engage with potential clients, from the things you post to who you connect with. Your website is also part of your digital space. This is where clients will go to learn more about you before meeting you. Is your information current? Do you have engaging blog posts or information about upcoming events available on your site? What about your “why?” Will a prospective client be able to tell anything about what brought you into this career path and what motivates you to grow and improve? 

Your digital space should be consistent with the branding in your physical space. The words, images, and stories you tell should create a full picture that will be fulfilled when a prospective client actually speaks with you for the first time. Your distinctiveness should be displayed in both spaces, telling prospective clients why you’re the fit they’ve been looking for and also reminding current clients why you’re the one they’re happy they chose to stay with.

Mandy Szewczuk

More about the author: Mandy Szewczuk

Mandy works with advisors as the lead of Evolution Financial Advisor’s virtual assistant program and is part of the marketing and events team.