Forrest Wallace Cato, Wally Cato, Image Branding, Media Consultant, Media Advocate, Image Building, Media Exposure, Publicist, Press Relations

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Who Benefits From Personal Image Branding And
 Celebrity Endorsements In Your Market Area?

(This applies to every professional and business)
By Forrest Wallace Cato

In the fall 1983 issue of Public Relations Quarterly Magazine, I wrote, "As professional competition among insurance agents and financial planners becomes more crowded and more intense, the professions will become far more competitive."  The Publisher of Public Relations Quarterly, Howard Penn Hudson, asked me to expand on this statement, so I added, "With more new and varied products on the way, plus new media serving independent financial professionals coming soon, and greater accountability being gradually required by regulators, one dynamic becomes certain.  All of this dictates that image branding will be essential for the success of any future provider of financial products and services."

Joseph A. "Big Joe" Clark, CFP, RFC, the successful financial planner in Anderson, Indiana, says, "The future is here for members of the International Association of Registered Financial Consultants.  Your world has changed as expected." 

Preecha Swasdpeera, RFC, in Bangkock, Thailand, says, "Today you can easily see that everywhere, the financial advisors who benefit from image branding are advancing far ahead of the pack!  They are becoming the top producers.  They are emerging as our industry leaders."

For You "Image Branding" Is "Personal Branding"

Image branding enables you to effectively create, establish and maintain the desired positioning in your market.  Image branding also creates a much stronger awareness, or understanding, of you and your services.  You can even contribute toward a perceived appreciation for your skills.  At the same time, your image branding builds loyalty, especially if you skillfully market the results of your image building to both of your key groups -- clients and prospects.  Image branding even leads to many desired two-way dialogues for you.   

Ed Morrow, CLU, ChFC, CFP, RFC, CEP, is CEO of Financial Planning Consultants in Middletown, Ohio.  FPC produces the financial planning software most used worldwide by financial professionals.  Ed Morrow created PracticeBuilder, which is the client relationship management program (CRM) for professional financial planners.  Morrow also created PlanBuilder, the evolution of EnterAct, LGX, and LifeGoals, powered by tax research from Commerce Clearing House.

Morrow explains, "Effective image branding determines how targeted others perceive you.  When you appear and match their perception only then is a "win-win combination" possible.  If you do not match their perception of you then you are rejected and they will select the financial planner with image branding that matches their reality.  Image branding is how you communicate your values to cultivate your prospects and to reassure your clients.  Image branding communicates your facts and the related information that reveals what is unique, special (and even precious) about you."

Morrow continues, "So what precisely is a brief definition of image branding?  Image branding is delivering a consistent and focused message to your key audiences." 

Ask Movie Star Tom Cruise If A More Consistent
And Focused Image Is Important For You?

Image branding is not a "mish-mash" of media exposures (many of questionable marketing worth) such as film actor Tom Cruise has experienced nationally.  Image branding is the creation or development, then the establishment and finally the maintenance or management of media relationships for the purpose of obtaining desired exposures that reach and influence the targeted market segments that can impact your bottom-line.   

Image branding can increase the number of clients you are able to help.   Image branding is a very important part of your relationship management, but should not be considered as the total of your relationship marketing.  Image branding is also a very important part of your relationship marketing.  My web site contains more information about image branding.  After thirty years of providing image branding for financial advisors I am now amazed that top producing insurance agents and financial planners everywhere are discovering how effective this is.

We Accomplished Our Long Range Goal In Three Years!  Will You?

Jeff Eshun, RFC, President of Solutions 21 Financial, in Ontario, Canada, proudly stated, "With Cato's style of image branding we went from three people in Canada to three thousand financial professionals in Canada!  We became the leaders in our markets" in far less time than we expected."

Jim McCarty, CLU, RHU, LUTCF, RFC, of Show Biz Selling is an award-winning financial sales trainer.  McCarty says, "There is no other way you can affect change for the better and accomplish so much that is essential to your marketing success, and all at one affordable price, as image branding makes possible!  And by "so much" I mean massive marketing communications benefits for you.  There are far more benefits for you than Cato has listed in this article.  Amazingly, many financial planners choose to struggle along, year after year."

This Financial Planner Made One Million During His First Year!

Phillip A. Calandra, RFC, of the Pinnacle Retirement Group, in Kennesaw, Georgia, was recently recognized by Jeremy Nason of Insurance Sales Tools for his outstanding first-year's success at practicing financial planning. Insurance Sales Tools reported, "Phil Calandra is one of America's best and brightest young financial planners!  During his first year as a financial planner, Phil earned more than one million dollars!  This may be an all-time national record!"

Phil explains; "My success is due entirely to helping clients and Cato's Image Branding. Of course maximum image branding results cannot be obtained in five weeks or five months.  Only an absurd jerk would demand unrealistic results in a few months from a skilled Image Branding practitioner.  I concentrate on helping clients.  My Media Advocate concentrates on personal image branding for me in my market.  I had faith that I could do it.  And we did it."

David S. Ayers of Faith Financial Planners in Chattanooga, Tennessee, repeats, "It takes time, professional writing skills, agenting experience, media and celebrity contacts, and more, to weave your special make-up into a tapestry appropriate for your markets.  Because it takes time for the skilled image branding practitioner to perform his job, only an absurd person would demand unrealistic results in a relatively short period of time." 

Actual image branding is not likely to result by amateur do-it-yourself efforts.  An executive at reports, "You can always tell an amateur.  An amateur is the writer who, when he first list his book on, insist that his 'just-published' book is already a best-seller!  Such a person only fools himself and insults all others."   

IARFC board member Constance O. Luttrell, RFC of Franklin, Tennessee, explains, "If you are competing with someone in your market area who has an effective image branding program underway, then you might as well surrender your market share now!  Your competition is going to eat your lunch!  Your choices are either (1) move to another market area that does not yet have similar competition, or (2) start an image branding program to work for you."

In 1997, business consultant Tom Peters produced an essay in which he could have been addressing each RFC.  Peters wrote, "Regardless of your age, regardless of your position, regardless of the business or profession you happen to be in, you need to understand the importance of branding.  You are CEO of your own company: You, Inc.  To succeed in the future, your most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called 'You!'"

In 1996 the magazine and newsletter publisher Howard Penn Hudson passed-away at age 91!  But if Hudson were still with us I could assure him that image branding is today more powerful than ever - and even more needed!  This is because your brand can now be more quickly and more easily accessed and evaluated.  Your brand has more exposure and those exposures are more permanent. There are now more ways to gain access to your image branding.  It is easier for others to learn much more about you and about your competition.  They can now better compare and appraise you in relation to your competition.

If your do not define your image through image branding then your competition will define you (to their advantage) through their image branding!  I repeat; if you do not define yourself through personal image branding, then your competition will define you to your disadvantage!  But, in this case, you do get to choose who wins in your marketing area!

Our Love-Hate Relationship With Computers!

I once wrote an article about why I hate computers.  I resisted computers as long as I could.  Magazine and book publishers finally insisted that I become computer literate.  I almost approached the use of computers while protesting, kicking and screaming.  To this day I continue to underestimate the computer!  I had to accept computers or get left behind.  When I met Bill Gates I had mixed feelings about him. 

Our reality is that the computer and the Internet are still making major changes in how we live, operate, and do business.  If you have a web site you are at least among the professionally active.  If you access the worldwide web, use e-mail news releases, or have a blog, tele-seminar, webcast, or webinar, then your image is really exposed! You are exposed to your clients, to your prospects, and to your competition, (to the feds who now spy on all of us), to anyone in Thailand, Hong Kong, Malaysia, India, China, etc.  I had to embrace the computer or be left behind in my profession.  You have to embrace image branding or be left behind in your profession.

Lew Nason, LUTCf, FMM, RFC, founder of the famous Insurance Pro Shop, states, "Image branding makes many marketing efforts of the past look rather lame.  In the past a financial planner could get away with absurdities!  Those days are coming to an end because more-and-more absurdities are failing to 'work,' because of tougher regulation, and because of a more sophisticated population.  The days of the financial planning clown may be numbered.  Any absurdities now place you at risk!"

Nason continues, "With the help of the Internet, consumers are becoming more savvy and can see through the exaggerations, embellishments, and false claims of the clown insurance agents or financial planners.  An absurdity or mistake made years ago can be pulled-up tomorrow and harm you anew, and even more than in the past."

Amateur Media Exposures Are Not What You Need?

An elderly planner in Florida, who is not an RFC, was ordered by the NASD to pay $315.000.00 to his client Marilyn McCarthy, a 71-year old woman in Deerfield Beach, Florida.  She had accused this planner of being negligent in the supervision of her investment of a million dollars.  This unfortunate event made the local, regional, and state news media - newspapers, radio and TV news, plus wire services, some national magazines, financial industry newsletters, and industry gossip (aka "word-of-mouth.") 

Did this planner have a skilled Image Branding program established and working for him to help him overcome this horrid "black eye?"  No!  Instead he had a large combination of do-it-yourself amateur promotional efforts - actually a media "mish-mash" -- that (this writer has long thought) resulted in making him look largely like an egomaniac.  An ongoing "mish-mash" of media exposures is not an effective Image Branding program and fails to ever gain the power of a proper Image Branding program.  Let's compare this planner's claims with reality. 

This Florida planner billed himself as a motivational speaker, but this was an obvious stretch?  He also used the now dated term of "lecturer."  He called himself a best selling author, but has a ghost written book that is not a best seller.  He says he is a radio and TV personality, but he purchases time on local stations and also self-syndicates.   He even bills himself as a celebrity planner but gives no indication why he should be considered to be a celebrity.  Possibly he is a celebrity in his own mind.  In his self-published (one issue) magazine he wrote that his credentials were both "impressive and impeccable."  In this magazine he went on-and-on about his commitment to financial planning, and his integrity, and so on.  He wants to evaluate your annuity.  And he uses the not-too-brilliant slogan of: "Take charge of your financial future by putting us in charge today."   

When a crisis came this Florida planner did not have a reservoir of good will to help him.  Instead he apparently had only ego-driven media "mish-mash" exposures that were of little or no long-term impact with intelligent people.  How much more effective he could have been had he allowed a professional Media Advocate to create, execute, and direct an effective image branding program!

Financial planning pioneer Vernon D. Gwynne, CFP, RFC, who, as Executive Director, guided the IAFP (now FPA) during their major growth years, believes, "Personal Image branding is not another opportunity to hustle people in a manner similar to false advertising!  Image branding is not another way to invent a brand that is not based on the precise truths concerning you and your planning practice!" 

Beth L. Blecker, CSA, RFC, the respected planner with Eastern Planning Inc., in Nanuet, New York, recently asserted, "Your Image branding must accurately reflect the real you.   This means your essence, your core beliefs, and essentially, what you are all about.  Your image branding will not work unless it matches the real you.  Effective image branding must match reality!  Image branding cannot be faked or fabricated.   Today most media exposures can be retrieved and easily examined for accuracy.  Every state and federal regulatory agency can do this."

Ed Morrow, CEO of the IARFC is also a recognized authority on practice management.  He observed, "For your image branding to work you must live up to your image branding.  It you want your image branding to position you are honest and responsible then you must be honest and responsible.  Your personal conduct is always on display.  Your financial planning decisions, even your dress, speech, or personality quirks, are all continually considered.  Anything that slightly reflects something less than total honesty and precise truth, once detected, will cause you to be rejected.  The real you must match your image branding."

In this writer's media work, year after year I meet various celebrities for the first time.  When the celebrity fails to match his or her image branding I am always very disappointed and I always feel deceived.  Sometimes I even feel betrayed if I realize that the celebrity is nothing like his or her image branding has established.  If I "bought" the promoted image, but then discover the maintained image is false, then I also feel cheated.  Deceptions may prevail, but only until the prospect (or deceived person) meets the deceiving person.  Image branding has helped three financial planners (I have known for years.) to reinvent themselves for the better.  Image branding helps you "keep on your marketing track!"

Would It Help You If Coach Lew Holtz, Comedy Star Phyllis Diller,
Actress Debbie Reynolds, Or Rev. Dr. Robert H. Sculler Endorsed You?

One of the more important original image branding techniques we use is getting appropriate famous celebrities to endorse you for free.  This is based on the proven system that I created and have been using for over 30 years.  You can get respected and admired famous people to endorse you for free!   

You can use their endorsements in your market for no cost!  But only if you know how to properly and legally do this!

How Can Celebrities Help You In Your Local Market?

Using celebrities makes you more likely to get published!

Using celebrities makes you more likely to be noticed!

Using celebrities makes you more likely to be read!

Using celebrities makes you more likely to be remembered!

Using celebrities makes you appear "more special" than other planners in your market area!

Using celebrities makes you appear "more connected" than other planners in your market area!

Using celebrities places you as part of a friendly ("already known and accepted") environment!

Using celebrities enables you to be perceived as "more established" than other planners in your market area!

Using celebrities makes you more likely to be "more different and special" than other financial planners in your market area!

Using celebrities makes you more welcomed!

Using celebrities enables you to more effectively transfer attention to yourself and your service!

Using celebrities makes you more unique!

Using celebrities makes you more interesting!

Using Celebrities makes you more likely to get many thousands of dollars worth of media coverage for free!

Accomplishing this is simply a matter of knowing how!

Cato's Celebrity Endorsement Techniques

Your prospects may not know who you are!  Or, they may not know much about you.  Or, they may think you are "just another financial planner."  But they have long known about (and they like) Art Linkletter, Kathy Bates, HH The Dali Lama, Basketball Coach Dale Brown, Larry King, Lauren Becall, and many-many-many more.  You select the celebrities.

Once you know how, you can pick two, four, six, eight (or more) movie stars, such as John Travolta, Julie Andrews, Peter Falk, Fannie Flagg, Michael Caine, etc.  Celebrities know the power and value of publicity!  You are about to learn this!  Or would you prefer to be endorsed by famous baseball payers, football players, golfers, or basketball players?  How about famous contemporary writers, or religious leaders?  You cannot always get them all.  But you can always get some of them. 

Ruben Ruiz, ChFC, CLU, MSFS, CSA, RFC, author of The Hispanic Millionaire, says, "Established celebrities attract your prospect's attention far more quickly than you do!  Celebrities hold their attention more effectively than you do!  You can use Cato's Celebrity Techniques to build your practice by gaining far more clients.  Corporations pay millions to do this!"

We will reveal many image branding strategies you can use.  Such as how you can get your own Hollywood Walk-Of-Fame Star!  (No, you do not have to be in show business!)  Plus, we plan to show you how to get Proclamations from your Governor (honoring you) and possibly even from the President of the United States (recognizing you)!

We will even show you how to get the entire United States Senate to officially and formally honor you for your work as a financial planner helping citizens achieve their money objectives.  And we will provide much more that you can do, all of which works to more effectively position you in your market!

Each Year You Can Get Two To Three Hundred Thousand Dollars Worth Of Valuable Targeted Publicity To Boost Your Local Sales!

You can finally establish yourself in your market area as "the leading financial planner" at far less cost than you think!  You can achieve this once you know how to do this properly. 

All-in-all you can get hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of valuable targeted media exposures that you do not have to pay for!  But you must know what you are doing.  You do not want to end-up with an amateurish media mish-mash!  The results you can get are like adding many hundreds of thousands of dollars to your marketing budget.  Only one person in your market area can do this most effectively.  Will that person be you?  Or will it be your competition?

You Get To Decide Who Becomes The Most Recognized Leader In Your Area!   

Lester W. Anderson, MBA, RFC, author of You Are The Product, told this writer, "You get to make the decision about this!  You either have a strong Image Banding program, or the leader in your market area will take your prospects from you along with some of your most desired clients.  It is very likely that the market leader in your area has a strong image branding program."

According to speaker/trainer Alan W. "Big Al" Altmann, famous for hosting the Believers In Business TV series and author of Journey To The Jordan, "The logical way you can experience maximum image branding is to retain a proven Media Advocate specializing in your field.  Such a Media Advocate will build your image branding, making your profile stronger, and more firmly established, month-after-month.  Your Media Advocate will also generate valuable media coverage about or for your brand.  Or you can learn how to do this yourself.  If you learn how to do this yourself you can work more effectively with your Media Advocate."  Al Altmann used image branding to become the most successful fraternal insurance sales agent of all time.

In America most successful corporate brands always try to do the right things and make certain that their key markets know they do the right things.  They do this so that their reputations will be solid, remain established, be unblemished, and retain value.  Beyond this, they grow, evolve, and get better with time, while maintaining their special qualities from the past.  The positioning remains strongly in place, and grows in effectiveness since it automatically builds.  You can accomplish the same in your markets. You can have the same results and benefits.

By Forrest Wallace Cato, RFMA, RFC, FMM, RTIC, CPC

Forrest Wallace Cato, RFMA, RFC, CRR, CPC, has over 30-plus years of successful experience as a local, regional, and as a multi-national, media strategist and media advocate serving financial professionals. For financial advisors, he creates, establishes, and maintains, desired images, then promotes those advisors within target markets. This highly proven marketing communications effort leads to increased understanding (brought about by desired media exposures) and results in increased consumer acceptance!


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