How to Message
Messaging for RIAs and CPA/PFSs
Any client that I’ve worked with – financial advisor or not – has struggled with the same initial question:
“What do I write on my website?”
They pick a beautiful website template or have one custom designed. They take that perfect headshot that makes them look smart, yet approachable. And they pick beautiful photos of a person standing on the edge of a serene lake or a couple in their golden years enjoying a glass of wine on their sailboat.
Once they get all of this in place, they get to the final detail: the messaging.
Only – surprise – this isn’t the final detail. This is the most important starting point. Before you pick that stylish new site design. Before you don that suit and take that photo. Before you update your social media profiles.
When you get your message right, everything else falls into place. Figuring out what to write on your website is a breeze. Knowing what to share through articles and social media is clear. Getting referrals becomes easier.
And most importantly you continue to build a business and a reputation that reflects exactly who you are and what you want to be known for.
But there’s an art to creating the right message. To have a profile on your website that makes a prospect want to email you, rather than clicking ‘x’ in their browser and forgetting your name.
It’s time to master that art.
Why is your messaging important?
Really, why isn’t messaging important? That would be far quicker to answer. But I’ll stick with the first question and give you some highlights:
Your online presence is becoming increasingly important. You know that. Your competitors know that. Your prospective clients really know that. Whether you’re trying to grow your client base or retain the next generation of clients, you need to show up well online.
A survey of investors conducted by the Financial Planning Association and Linkedin found that of investors aged 18-44, 35% learned more about an advisor through an online search, 24% through professional networks, and 18% through social media.
43% of investors in this age bracket said that the online profiles are “critical” and 51% of investors in this age bracket sought out information online before making contact with an advisor.
When someone searches for you online and finds your website, your Linkedin profile, or your other social media profiles, what are they seeing? Your message.
If your message is weak, they will likely click on through to another search. If your message is strong, it makes your differentiator apparent and can help you establish a relationship with a prospect before you even meet.
Simply put, your message is the hub of your business and brand. All of your online profiles and touchpoints are the spokes. If you have a weak hub, you can almost guarantee the spokes are going to fall off.
But now that you know how important messaging is, you won’t let that happen to you.
How do you create your message?
When you first sit down to put pen to paper and write about yourself and your business, it can be overwhelming to know where to start. Not to worry, we’ve got you covered with 3 steps:
- Know your clients
The best businesses start with an in-depth knowledge of who their client is, or who they want their client to be.
Because your messaging will speak directly to what they need. When it speaks to what they need – rather than being a vague statement – they will feel connected. They’ll feel like you understand them (because you do!).
What copy do you think makes a prospective client feel connected?
“We can help anyone reach the financial goals that they dream of. Whether you want to buy a house, send your child to college, or retire soon, we’re here for you.”
“Our services free up your time and provide you with the peace of mind that you’re making the right financial decisions for the people that depend on you.”
The first quote is fine. It’s generic, but not terrible. But you don’t want messaging that’s just “fine”.
The second quote is slightly different but much stronger. It speaks directly to what the prospective client needs: something that doesn’t take up a lot of time and relieves them from the stress of worrying about making the right financial decision. The client here might be a busy professional with a young family. This message would speak directly to them and what they need.
“Everyone is not your customer.” – Seth Godin
In order to know your customer – and tailor your message accordingly – you need to be clear about who your customer is. And hint – it’s not everyone. When you try to speak to everyone, you end up with quote number one. When you get specific about the needs of the clients you serve, you end up with quote number two. Copy that connects you to the client.
- Start with why.
Now that you know the needs of your customer, it’s time to start crafting your message. If you’ve done any amount of googling around for marketing messaging, you’ve likely come across the advice to start with why. This advice comes from Simon Sinek’s TED talk, which I highly recommend watching. The main piece of his advice is to start with your why. Why? As he says:
People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.
How do you start with why in your message? Answer these questions:
- Why do you do what you do?
- How does this help your client?
- What do you offer?
Most people start their messaging with what services they offer. They may then articulate some benefits that the client gets. And rarely do they go further and talk about why they do what they do.
- Create a story
When my husband and I were looking for a nanny for our newborn child, it was overwhelming. We sourced recommendations from friends, interviewed agencies, and scoured online profiles. We are first time parents and the idea of trusting anyone with our three-week-old child was difficult to stomach.
After weeks of looking, I was flipping through more online profiles hoping to find something that stood out, when I found the perfect nanny. Her profile started with the story of why she became a nanny. She had initially trained as an assistant in the NICU helping premature babies. While she’d develop a relationship with some of the families whose children were in there for weeks or months, once they left the NICU her time with them was done. She cared deeply about helping these babies get back to health but wanted to continue to nurture them as they developed during the first year or two of their life. That led her to eventually become a full-time nanny and she was able to give her clients peace of mind knowing that they had a hospital trained caretaker looking after their newborn babies.
I was hooked because she started with her why and illustrated how this would help me before she got into her exact services. She told a story and I connected with it.
And see what I did there? Rather than just tell you that stories vitally important because they help your clients make sense of decisions, I’ve told you a story. Stories are important.
Translating your message online
Once you’ve nailed down your main message, it’s time to take in online through your website, your Linkedin profile, your blog posts, and all of your social media profiles. There are a few rules to follow when translating your message online to connect with prospects.
Keep it clear and concise.
Jargon is annoying. Remember, your prospect is not a financial advisor. While they will look to you to be an expert, they are likely turned off by abstruse language that they don’t immediately understand.
Master your voice.
My mom will send me emails that say,
“We need to talk.
No, she’s not angry with me. This note usually is her way of saying, “I miss you and I’d love to catch up.” She has not mastered her written voice.
Don’t be a Karen with your online writing. How do you want your voice to come through online? Do you want to be friendly, relatable, knowledgeable? I, clearly, like to be conversational and I keep that voice consistent through all of my personal and branded writing (though I can write in any voice needed when I’m hired by a client. Hint, hint.)
Don’t be generic.
Generic terms make things boring. You’re better than that.
Do you show up the same way on every page on your website, every social media platform, every blog post, and every newsletter? Or does your voice and your message change depending on the direction the wind is blowing? Consistency creates trust. Inconsistency creates questions.
While creating your message may feel less important than ordering those snazzy business cards or picking the perfect stock image of a lighthouse, it’s not. Get a leg up on your competition by starting with your message first.
Take a shot at updating your message. After a few months in your new firm or perhaps you have a 5-year-old plus website, it is time to reflect on what you have learned about your target client. Your why for doing what you do hasn’t changed but you know how your clients speak. You can relate to them better.
The Worth Project Consulting
A boutique marketing, copywriting, and content marketing company. We work with independent RIAs and CPA/PFSs to create expertly crafted content to build trust and differentiate. Connecting you with clients.
2019 Gellerholz, LLC