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If you serve diverse groups of clients, you can find messaging that resonates with all of them by considering whether your clients are in the life-raft or sailboat category of financial planning.
If you have read any of my articles over the last few years, you know that I strongly advocate that financial advisors focus their practice on a niche market. The reason is that it is much easier to reach a small group of people with similar needs and mindsets and persuade them to work with you than it is to do the same for a broader audience with diverse needs.
That being said, most advisors still cater to everyone who will pay their minimum fee. One of the marketing challenges these advisors face is finding one marketing message that connects with people facing different life experiences.
Let’s say you are a generalist registered investment advisor working with widows, retirees, and people experiencing sudden windfalls. What message would you use that applies to all three of these groups?
Messaging is difficult because some of these clients come from a place of survival, while others come from a place of abundance. To reach all three of these groups, you have to use a generic message like “Helping you achieve your financial goals.” But this message doesn’t deeply resonate with any of these clients, which means you lose out on your chance to connect with your prospect through your marketing.
Instead, let’s consider the messages you could use if you worked with just one of these client types:
Widows: Helping You Regain Your Footing After Your Loss
Retirees: Helping You Understand If You Will Be OK in Retirement
Sudden Money: Helping You Thrive Using Your Newfound Wealth
In financial services marketing, a lot of emphasis gets placed on aspirational marketing messages – for example, “Live the Retirement You’ve Been Dreaming Of.” Everyone wants to live happily ever after. But some people are so far from that outcome, they can’t even imagine it. They aren’t in the headspace to consider aspirational goals. A recent widow doesn’t want to re-envision a life she loves. She just wants to know if she will end up as a bag lady or have to live with her kids.
If you aren’t willing to niche, at least decide whether you are trying to help your clients thrive or survive. Then build a message around one of those themes. Are you selling them life rafts (survive) or sailboats (thrive)?
Below is a list of scenarios where someone may be looking for a life raft versus a sailboat.
These are generalities that need adjusting for your clients. For example, retirement may be an exercise in surviving for some, while it is an exercise in thriving for others. For most, the death of a spouse requires a life raft. However, there may be cases where a 22-year-old is in a marriage of convenience with an 80-year-old. The death of their spouse would put them into the sailboat category. Or there may be multimillionaires planning their legacy but have such complicated family dynamics (e.g., blended families, children with special needs), they feel like they are drowning and need a life raft.
Whether a person needs a life raft or a sailboat has nothing to do with how much money they have. It has to do with their mindset. Do they just want to know that they’re going to be OK, or do they want to achieve something greater than what they’ve already accomplished?
Your marketing needs to communicate the message your prospects want to hear. And if you are trying to sell both life rafts and sailboats by “helping you get the boat you need,” neither group will hear your message.
Kristen Luke is the President of Kaleido Creative Studio, a marketing consulting firm that positions Registered Investment Advisors and their employees as experts in a niche, making them “uncomparable” to other advisors. Over the past 17 years, Kristen has consulted with hundreds of financial advisory firms and shared her marketing expertise via industry conferences and publications nationwide.
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