Creating a Marketable DBA: A Q&A with The Independent Grid’s Trent Gain

 

Targeted marketing is more important for brands today than it’s ever been before. Brands now need to set themselves apart in the ever-constant noisy world we live in. For those in the finance and professional service industries, marketing can result in new clients, credibility and exponential business growth—but, how do you market a DBA?

We chatted with Trent Gain, COO of The Independent Grid, about what exactly a DBA is and how it can be marketable. Here’s what he had to say…

BN: What is DBA? Who has it and who needs it?

TG: DBA is an acronym that stands for “Doing Business As”. In the independent space of the financial services industry, this becomes very critical. This is where you see people having their own namesake, like “Trent Gain Wealth Management” or “Tampa Wealth Advisors Inc.”—It enables an entity to create their own brand identity that is connected to a larger group. For example, The Independent Grid is a DBA and we work through Cambridge Investment Research. The DBA model is for anyone that aspires to have their own business and has an entrepreneurial mindset in our industry.

BN: For those who already have a DBA, what are some of the benefits of marketing it?

TG: For starters, independent financial firms have a very clear advantage. Clients often feel more comfortable going into an independent type of shop where there is a very intimate environment as opposed to a potentially stale corporate environment. They prefer to go into these independent establishments to have all of their financial goals met. With that being said, the ability to promote your own brand identity is essential. Conte Wealth Advisors, our sister firm, does an enormous amount of local marketing in the Harrisburg, Mechanicsburg, and York, Pennsylvania areas. These marketing efforts have translated to success for all of the advisors in our network because potential clients are able to identify us. Instead of meeting an advisor from a firm you have never heard of before, potential clients can recall, “Oh, I’ve seen your billboards and articles online!” For this reason, having a marketing plan and some form of third-party credibility is critical if you are looking to actively grow your business and practice.

BN: What are actionable steps businesses can take to market their DBA? 

TG: The most obvious and also very popular tactic is to utilize social media. The more engaged and connected you are with your audience on social media, the better. Of course, this will come naturally to some advisors than it will to others, but there are many ways to manage social media in an efficient way. If you are limited on internal resources and don’t have administrative support, all of your social media platforms can be managed through a centralized hub like Hootsuite. Trying to maintain Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn by yourself can seem daunting, but I encourage advisors to take this really beneficial route. Another way to market yourself is by getting involved in the local communities you are looking to be active within. Look into different places you can market and figure out what works best for your firm’s budget. I think what is important is finding what seems to be the most natural for you and start to explore options in that realm. The deeper you dive into your marketing plan over time, the more it will grow and the better form it will take.

BN: Do you have any marketing success stories or examples?

TG: One that immediately comes to mind is with our sister firm, Conte Wealth Advisors. One of the founders of our firm, Frank Conte, brings his dog to the office with him daily. Everyone knows Bailey, even all of our clients love her. She’s featured on our website and her official title has been promoted from Official Greeter of Conte Wealth Advisors to the Director of First Impressions for the firm. Now, we have a monthly ad that runs in a local publication called Blue Mountain Living that circulates around Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. We have three core ads that rotate each month over a quarterly basis, so each ad runs four times throughout the year. This year, we decided to take a little bit of a different track with one of our ads. Two of the ads are what you would expect from a financial services firm. A nice elderly couple, phrases like “Are you ready for retirement?”, and bullet points about the firm. But for the third ad, we decided to feature Bailey to see if we’d get any response from that—and we did. We even went as far as making postcards to hand out at a local business open house event that is held in the community where our main office is located. We had people stop and comment on the postcards, and some even mentioned that they recognized Bailey from the Blue Mountain Living ad. Frank may have gotten a client meeting as a result. It was kind of an accident, but the ads generated buzz and we have gotten a lot more feedback on that particular ad than anything else we have done.

BN: Do you have any final words of advice?

TG: Put yourself out there. It is so essential for any organization, regardless of the size. Whether you are a one-person-shop or a multi-advisor network, you need marketing. The first thing you need to do is get a system in place. I have an old boss that used to say, “Who are you calling? What are you talking about? And how are you following up?” I use these questions to shape any initiative I am undertaking to help give me some direction. So, if we tailor that to marketing, ask yourself “Who are you targeting? What are you talking about? And what action do you want your target audience to take? Further, what action does that in turn prompt you to take? Having that kind of system and structure in place is key, along with consistency. Being able to deliver a timely message regularly and building a presence will set you apart. Even if a potential client is not ready to act today, when they are ready to act, you want them to be familiar with your brand. Lastly, don’t be afraid to try different things. Give yourself time to see what works and what is beneficial—experiment with different techniques. That is probably the biggest bit of advice that I could give.

Trent Gain is the chief operating officer of The Independent Grid, a turn-key business platform dedicated to helping financial advisors gain independence without having to go at it alone. He is also director of business development at Conte Wealth Advisors, an independent financial services firm.

 Securities offered through Registered Representatives of Cambridge Investment Research, Inc., a broker-dealer member FINRA/SIPC. Advisory services through Cambridge Investment Research Advisors, Inc., a Registered Investment Adviser. Cambridge, Conte Wealth Advisors LLC, and The Independent Grid LLC are not affiliated.

 

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