Last year, Substance unveiled our Advisor Roundtable offering – an opportunity for our clients to regularly source insights from financial professionals in a focus group setting.
Having carried out four so far, these sessions are always eye-opening. What we learn isn’t necessarily surprising, but we’re more so reminded of some of the core fundamentals of marketing to financial advisors – and just how important they are.
We figured we’d share these lessons so that anyone – from someone just starting off in the financial space to someone who’s been doing this for decades but could use a reminder – can pick them up. Without further ado…
Write Tight, and Keep Things Bulleted and Visual
In three of the past four sessions, we’ve had advisors joke that “We don’t have time to really read anything.” It’s said in jest, but in every joke, there’s a bit of truth: Advisors are busy, have multiple competing interests for their time and care about their clients more than they do a brand’s marketing materials.
- Give advisors the details they need, but do it with headers, bullets and visuals. Sure, you can have content surrounding those things, but you want to give advisors the ability to spot a point of interest, zero in on it, and move on.
- Interestingly, this doesn’t mean that you need shorter pieces of content. We’ve seen advisors in multiple instances be comfortable with long-scroll, in-depth digital experiences or whitepapers. They just want the ability to spot meaningful content while scanning.
Saving Advisors Time Builds Affinity
Similarly, the more you can make an advisor’s life easier, the more they’ll come back to your brand for more. We’ve seen advisors at their most passionate when a brand is making their life – and their business – easier. This principle can have a few applications:
- Make sure product details, literature and resources are centralized in one place and are easy to scan and find. Advisors don’t want to hunt a million places to do business with you.
- Think holistically about your customer experience – ensure that you’ve really considered where the “friction points” are and attack those head on
- Your sales and service model matters. Things like cutting headcount or training resources may be good for your stock price now… but when it leads to an unresponsive service model later, you may be doing long-term damage to your brand and your business.
Time is money. For you and the advisors you work with.
Have an Opinion
The financial industry is a weird one. Some people love to prognosticate and others completely shy away from it because “What if we’re wrong and get sued.” With that said: Advisors remind us that those who have an opinion are the ones they listen to. We even heard from one advisor: “Have an opinion, even if you’re wrong.”
- Think about the biggest winners across the industry. Bogle had a point of view about investing. David Kelly offers an incisive view on the economy and has a massive following for it. Larry Fink (yes, recently to his detriment) makes bold statements in BlackRock’s annual letter to shareholders.
- Advisors want to hear your perspective. Waffling to say “it could go this way, or it could go that way” doesn’t help. Remember: Your confidence is their confidence with their clients.
An opinion is a good thing. In fact, it’s essential.
People, People, People
To that point: Your brand matters but so do your people. We’re not sure who coined the phrase, but “People buy from people.” is as true in financial services as it was when people used to go around selling vacuum cleaners door-to-door. We’ve heard from advisors that they often find “people they like and get to know a brand that way.” This advice is critical if you want to be more successful in your marketing efforts.
The most successful brands in finance take a two-pronged approach to building affinity with advisors – they build their brand traditionally, but they also build a brand for their people.
- Strategically, this might mean ensuring you’ve identified a key spokesperson and a plan for how to build their brand in the marketplace
- Tactically, this could mean training your salespeople – and giving them tools – to build a social media following on LinkedIn
The human side of finance is no longer just emotional – it’s putting your people at the center of your marketing efforts.
Advisors Like Real Stuff
The above might sound like the most ridiculously obvious sentence ever. But here’s the point: We frequently hear that advisors want tangible things that make a product or a brand different. This doesn’t always need to be a global statement – although if you have something like “The Capital System,” it’s certainly better – it can be an interesting way you approach risk management or a powerful differentiator embedded within a product that makes it unique.
Emotional marketing still matters in this category, but don’t forget about features and their benefits. The financial space is highly considered and rarely a purely emotional sale. It’s the advisor’s job to know the details and know them well – make sure you’re delivering them.
The TLDR: Keep it Short, Keep it Human, Say Something Meaningful