One of the best things about my work is that I get to work with some of the smartest, hardest working and most insightful thought leaders in the financial advisory world. One of the worst things about my work is that I work with some of the smartest, most insightful leaders in the financial advisory world.
It’s a double-edged sword for our firm’s clients because they’re often asked to write, speak and sit on panels addressing their peers. They have so much expertise to share, but alas, it’s hard to fit all that brainpower and experience into the narrow confines of a blog post, article or short-presentation. So, instead of being selective, they try to cram a lifetime of knowledge into their content pieces and the readers ends up feeling like their drinking from a firehose.
Research shows that most humans can’t multitask. But that’s essentially what you’re asking people to do when you introduce two, three, even four distinct themes into your writing and speaking. Instead, just focus on one theme per content piece, and get your thoughts down really well.
Marketers have long known that you should never have more than one “call to action” in any marketing piece if you want people to respond. If you want them to book a time to meet with you, make that appointment “ask” abundantly clear. Don’t also ask your reader to sign up for your newsletter, register for your next webinar or download your “information-packed” white paper (requiring all of their contact information). It ends up being information overload for the recipient and when they have too many choices, they end up doing nothing.
Same goes for your content. If your objective is to discuss investment strategies for today’s high inflation, recessionary environment, tell your clients and prospects exactly what they should do, when they should do it, how they should do it and why. That’s why they trust you. Just don’t go off on tangents about the technical definition of a recession, or how many more rate hikes the Fed will do, or which sectors of the stock market tend to perform best during recessions. It’s great you have all that background stored in your brain, but you’re not writing a book here or delivering a semester-long course on the topic. Just get to the point – and stay on the point.
Clients appreciate simplicity, not complexity
Again, too many advisors think clients are impressed by how much they know about the new tax reform, or Modern Portfolio Theory or estate tax laws. In reality, clients will reward you if you can simplify their financial issues and say: “Here’s what all this means for you and you’re going to be OK if you do the following things. These are the next steps.”
If you’re still in doubt, use the “What / So What / Now What” filter. Dallas-based wealth advisor, Kyle Walters told me he uses this thought process all the time. “Don’t just give clients The What (i.e., data and information),” said Walters. “You need to give them the So What (i.e., What does it mean for me?) and the Now What (i.e., What Do I do About it?). They’ll be glad you did and so will the people they refer you to.”
“Early in my career, I used to get very excited whenever clients came in for a consultation or review meeting,” said Walters, a reformed smarty-pants by his own admission. “I really thought they were coming in to learn about all the latest developments I was following in accounting, tax and personal finance. It took me about 10 years to understand from their body language that they were just zoned out, waiting patiently for me to finish my lecture so they could ask the only relevant question— “What does this mean for me?”
Walters said it’s like taking your car to the mechanic and having to spend hours listening to him explain the details of what’s wrong with your crankshaft or carburetor. Unless you’re really into cars, you probably don’t care. Walters said that for years he was like Tony, the overzealous mechanic from the Seinfeld show. “My wife would hear me on a call and say, ‘You shouldn’t talk so much; they don’t care as much as you think they do.’”
Clients don’t want to pay you for data. They’re paying you for advice and for educated recommendations so they can make smarter financial decisions. What’s your take? I’d love to hear from you.
#simplicity, #effectivewriting, #thoughtleadership, #practicemanagement