Two-minute primer on leveraging your brand

I’ve met many traders, brokers, and introducing brokers having covered the derivatives arena for 30 years. Some have been memorable, some not. Typically why they are memorable is for a few reasons: a) performance, especially as a trader, b) what sets them apart, that is, what makes them special, especially as a broker, and c) keeping up the relationship, in other words, they continue to keep in touch even if they don’t see an immediate benefit.

From a journalist’s point of view, brokers, large and small, are typically the easy people to access. They are happy – usually – to provide information as well as spout their wisdom.  Traders, not so much, unless they are trying to raise money. Nonetheless, here are a few ways of getting your name out there to get noticed.

  1. Who are you? I’ve visited several IB web sites (all important) that don’t even introduce the firm’s principals, and that makes me wonder: why not? The principal(s) should be front and center. As an introducing broker, that’s what people are buying. Yes, they want the best software, fastest execution, reliable fills, solid clearing firm. But it comes back to who is/are the people who run the firm.
  2. What is it you do? Many IBs are two guys taking business and pushing it through, which is important. But do you provide any special services? Make sure you highlight that on your website or any special material you distribute. For example, if you have ties in the grains or energy area, make sure you push that aspect. If you are great at raising money for CTAs, push that as well.
  3. Cover the basics of marketing even if you’re short on time:

a) Have a web site, even if it is a basic site providing contact information and describes who you are as an IB. First thing people do is check out a site. And on that site, state any specialization of your firm, introduce your principals, provide any registration or membership info (and numbers, a nice touch). Provide links to articles that are relevant to your business or that you are quoted in or have written. Put in your social media links. Outline customer safeguards.
b) Develop relationships with journalists. Make sure they know you are available to answer any questions they may have about the business. Be happy to provide unbiased information even if it’s only to help the reporter understand the particular subject. They will remember and come back to you when needed. Let them know your specialty and that you can always be counted on to discuss it with them.
c) Have marketing materials you can distribute at conferences or to your clients. It can be something as basic as explaining what an introducing broker does, how one can help a client, and your pertinent info: how long have you been an IB, are you guaranteed by an FCM, or not? Explain what that means. How can you enrich your client’s portfolio? What makes you more special than other brokers? What technology/software do you use/provide? 
d) Write articles for the trade press  (either print or on-line) that cover a particular market, current topic or regulation impact. Be willing to appear on panels (or better yet, recommend panel ideas you think are important) at conferences, ie. NIBA.

4) Be active in the trading community. I always tell traders to be an active member of the overall business. Participate at conferences (whether performance is good or bad) and willingly speak to the press if that’s something they want to do as a company. And I remind them it’s a commitment. Your core business is bringing in clients and making sure they get the best execution. But being part of the overall introducing broker and trading community provides important visibility and respect. 

One final warning, which I’m sure I don’t need to tell this audience, but follow regulatory requirements. Register, submit to audits, have your house in order. With regulators under the spotlight due to MF Global and PFG, the noose has tightened. Complain all you want to your friends, but realize that these new rules are for customer safety. Be vocal with your lobby organization to change laws, but until they are changed, follow them. You never want to be part of the blotter that lists CFTC and NFA charges. With today’s global Internet reach, those misdeeds or fines will follow you a long time. 

Ginger Szala is the former editor-in-chief and publisher of Futures Magazine Group. She has reported on and written about the global derivatives and managed funds business for 30 years. Today she is a free-lance journalist, business writer and media consultant. You can follow her on Twitter @gingerszalaink, see her recent work at www.GingerSzalaInk.com, or e-mail her at: [email protected]