How to Differentiate Your Financial Practice Online

 It's easy to stand out in the crowd when you choose the crowd.

It's easy to stand out in the crowd when you choose the crowd.

Sometimes it's the little things that cause us the most consternation in our businesses. Of course these little things don't feel so little when they are plaguing our minds and holding us back from achieving our goals. 

I've seen the little details hold financial professionals back from fully committing to using social media in their practice more times than I can count over the years. The little things range from "I don't know what to post." to "I'm not sure I can be myself on Facebook if I'm connected to my clients." to "What if someone says something bad about me online?" and beyond. While these little things may seem trivial to you as you read them I promise you they are holding back many well established, seasoned professionals from embracing digital marketing.

Yesterday I was reminded of another little thing that I have heard frequently while working with financial advisors, insurance agents, and wholesalers. Blane Warrene, of QuonWarrene, while attending the Morningstar Investment Conference tweeted "Number one question first day of social media lounge at #MICUS - "so many on social now - how do we differentiate?" cc: @MStarAdvisor".

I had heard this concern in the past mainly as a negative reaction to the canned content libraries that many large financial firms require their financial professionals use to post to their individual social media accounts. The common lament was "How do I stand out when thousands of other advisors are posting the exact same thing to their accounts?"

While the "How do we differentiate?" question Blane reported is a much deeper concern than the frustration of having little to no flexibility in what you can publish the solution is the same. 

Focus On A Niche

The challenge of differentiation in terms of your brand or the content you share is easily resolved when you focus on a specific target market. It sounds insanely simple but this fundamental business concept is the most powerful thing you can do to stand out from the crowd.

Why? Because with a niche you are playing to a specific crowd. When you refine your target market you build your network of connections on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and beyond in custom fashion. Your audience is no longer the same as your competitor's so you free yourself from the anxiety of differentiation and focus on sharing content that resonates with the people you have chosen to serve.

Who cares if another guy shared a link to the same content with his followers? Who cares if every other financial advisor in the country has access to the same stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and insurance products as you do? You only care about your followers, the people on your email list, and the visitors to your site.

Focus on sharing content that is interesting, relevant, and useful to your target market and you will never have to worry about a little thing like differentiating yourself online.