In our “always-on” media climate, watching presidential races has become like rubbernecking, watching for gaffes instead of listening for substance and observing character. The political election cycle has a lot to teach us all about how to engage people.
After studying several speeches from this year’s national conventions, I would like to share three marketing takeaways that you can apply to your practice, whether you’re trying to attract, acquire or retain clients.
First tip: Really listen to your audience. There’s a reason that great political campaigns succeed. They understand the issues that are top of mind with voters. This will trump style any day.
Listening sounds like an overly simplistic recommendation. However, I can’t emphasize its importance enough. Purchase decisions are emotional ones, not purely intellectual ones, and this includes selecting an advisor or electing a leader. Let’s face it, do you really need that new iPhone 5 or the latest tablet?
Actively listening to what clients or prospects care about — and not trying to influence them — is critical. In our Q4 2011 survey of investors, the top reason they cited that would influence their decision to leave their current financial advisor was not listening.
Suggested actions: In the parlance of marketing guru Seth Godin, do one thing each day to better understand your clients.
* Call one client just to connect and find out how he or she is doing.
* Meet an investor that didn’t select you as an advisor to get feedback on how the decision was made.
* Create a short online survey to find out what is top of mind with your clients.
Second Tip: Communicate clear, compelling messages that are based on more than spin. It seems to me that the stories of actual Americans that our politicians shared were the parts of convention speeches that seemed perhaps the most sincere and free of spin. Obviously these stories were carefully selected to illustrate a key message, but I think they worked on a number of levels nevertheless.
Don’t take a “one size fits all” approach to creating messages. If many of your clients are physicians, their concerns and needs probably differ from your mass-affluent engineer clients or ultra-high-net-worth celebrities.
What I do is create a communications playbook based on listening to my potential clients and first identifying the problems/pain that they have.
Suggested actions: Share real stories of real clients.
* Create examples of the value other clients are receiving.
* Use free online resources such as MarketingProfs to get ideas and help on messaging.
* Create a grid like the one below to map your messages for individual audiences.
Third Lesson: Utilize more than one screen to engage clients in today’s multi-screen world. Today’s presidential races deliver messages using multiple media, taking their cues from the way Americans now consume information.
TV is a mainstay but it isn’t the only game in town. You’ll recall that in the 2008 race, President Obama utilized social media methods to raise millions of dollars? To deliver truly exceptional client service, financial advisors must communicate using multiple screens: smartphone, laptop/PC and tablet.
This type of communication is now so pervasive, in fact, that the typical consumer uses an average of three different screen combinations per day, according to a new August 2012 study from Google, in partnership with Sterling Brands and Ipsos.
So whether you’re a financial quarterback for two or three generations within a single family or you advise individual HNW investors, you owe it to yourself to follow them into today’s multi-screen world.
Suggested actions: Find out what a QR code is and how you might use it. You might start here.
* Learn how other financial advisors are using tablet technology in their practice.
* Understand how intelligent data aggregation technology enhances your use of PCs to create exceptional client experiences.
For advisors looking to build long-term critical mass and not just generate some buzz every few years, these core messaging principles are essential. Put them to work for you and your talking points should resonate throughout your chosen market constituency — and beyond.
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