If you write your firm’s market commentary, client newsletter or individual client performance reports then you realize how hard it can be to engage your readers. Below are three tips from writer-editor Susan Weiner to help you increase the impact of your writing on clients and prospects.
Focus on your reader
Susan told me that what’s missing in the investment writing she sees is what she dubbed the “What’s in it for me?” concept. “Imagine that you are the client of an advisor and you receive a performance letter that talks about how well our portfolios held up,” says Susan. “How would you feel?” A more engaging way to say the same thing, she suggests, would be something like “your portfolio held up well.”
“You is one of the most powerful words in the English language,” Susan adds. For Susan, incorporating “you” into investment writing can make the difference between someone reading the content and not reading it. It signals what’s in the story for them and that can have a tremendous impact.
It is natural, Susan said, that “people are excited about their work and sometimes forget about the impact on the reader and the client.” In her workshops and consulting sessions she asks advisors to complete this fill-in-the-blank sentence from the perspective of their client: I am worried about ___ and you can help me by ____.
Imagine it became “I am worried about having enough money in retirement and you can help me by making a plan.” By keeping your client or prospective client in mind while writing, Susan’s view is that it you can receive a tremendous boost in terms of the impact you have on your reader.
Discuss benefits not services
It is natural to want to discuss your firm’s services or experienced team. “Don’t forget to shift the focus to the benefit for your client,” Susan says. For instance, when discussing the retirement planning capabilities that you have, also talk about how they will allow your clients to retire earlier or with enough money to enjoy retirement. Talk about the benefits you and your team offer and not just your services.
One way to understand the benefits your clients receive is to listen to what they say about you. What have they gotten from it? What they say might surprise you. Susan is also a fan of online surveys. There are several very inexpensive or free survey tools (such as SurveyMonkey) that make it simple to ask your clients what’s on their minds.
Susan also suggests “crowd sourcing” to get a better sense of your value proposition. “You might ask them using social media. Here’s how I see I it, do you agree?”
When it comes to any type of writing, how long is too long? Susan told me that she has some figures from a presentation on just how wordy your writing should be:
42 words per paragraph or less
14 words per sentence or less
2 syllables per word
When you start to surpass these guidelines Susan suggest that you start to lose readers. “Become more aware of how you rank in terms of those guidelines by checking your word count and other metrics in Microsoft Word,” says Susan.
It may seem daunting at first to put these tips into action. Take a look at Russ Thornton’s website Wealth Care for Women. Susan’s view is that Russ’s conversational style is a great approach. The writing focuses on the client and not on himself. Take for example, his headline “Is Your Money Aligned With What’s Important In Your Life?
Susan Weiner, CFA, is the author of Financial Blogging: How to Write Powerful Posts That Attract Clients, a practical guide tailored to financial advisors' needs. She writes and edits articles, white papers, and investment commentary for leading investment and wealth management firms.
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