Con·gru·ent – in agreement or harmony
Demonstrating congruence between how Fee-Only Financial Advisors conduct their business and how it is marketed online is an important ‘sweet-spot’ to aim for. In this post, we will explore how your business can discover that sweet spot more effectively.
To have a congruent life means there is harmony with what you value. Harmony is a state that everyone is seeking in their lives, whether they realize it or not. Your ideal client is seeking it too.
We already know educating prospective clients about the differences between the two types of advice, is a crucial step in attracting the right types of clients toward your business. So it is vitally important that your commitment to client education matches the way you market your services.
Client education is a key component of inbound marketing. Education also is a crucial stage in the process of on-boarding your clients. And when they become clients it will be what they are paying you for anyway – making them smarter. So it entirely makes sense that their very first experience of you / your company is an educational one.
For example, when the new fiduciary standards came out for retirement plans, many bloggers produced great articles educating people about them. This is client education in action and speaks louder than brash claims about ‘serving our clients’ for instance.
Recently I was re-reading a book that has had a powerful impact upon my own life. Don Miguel Ruiz published ‘The Four Agreements’ in 1997 and it became a best-seller soon after. You don’t even have to read the book or it to have an impact on how you think.
Here are the four agreements:
I’m sure you can see how these ‘agreements’ fit perfectly as guiding principles for Fee-Only Financial Advisors. Incidentally, they also serve to describe Inbound Marketing just as well. This is the core teaching point in this post.
I’m going to demonstrate the strong parallels between how Fee-Only Financial Advisors conduct their business and the principles of Inbound Marketing. As you follow me you’ll see how these four agreements can be the basis of a successful online marketing strategy for your services.
An easy place to start. You and your colleagues already know that providing fee-only financial advice requires that your clients can trust your word. After all your client is probably entrusting their entire net-worth in your hands. So we know that you practice this agreement. But does this principle apply to how you market your business?
But how can you gain a prospect’s ears and eyes among the clamour for attention that is the online environment? This is an important question.
The first thing to consider is who do you want to attract? It’s not everyone, that’s for sure because not everyone is in the market for your services. Crafting a persona of your ideal client is the first (and very crucial) step toward reaching the right people at the right time in their lives.
Having a persona worked out enables you to craft content that talks about the things those types of people are concerned about and searching for help online. This is where thorough research comes in.
As someone that probably has years of experience dealing with these clients (the ideal ones!), you already know a lot about the characteristics of a good persona. Being impeccable with your word in marketing is really about demonstrating your values not so much talking about them.
However, don’t get cocky. The last animal to discover water would be a fish, is an old Zen koan. Working so closely with your clients, it is easy not to recognise the types of questions that brought them to you in the first place.
Surveying your client base is a great way to gather ideas and samples of the languages clients use to describe their financial planning challenges.
So once you have a persona description, it’s time to examine the way they word their problems. Then move on to create content that addresses the problems in the language your ideal client prospect persona has used. It almost sounds too easy, doesn’t it?
The process of a client-prospect becoming a client (Buyer’s Journey) can be broken into three stages:
Your online communication needs to have three types of content. Prospects are in one of the three stages and they will be most receptive to the content that meets them where they are.
Here is a simple graphic showing the types of content that can be used effectively for each of the stages.
In case you thought I had forgotten what we were talking about – this is precisely about being impeccable with your word. Saying the right thing at the right time to the right person and being able to stand behind that word, is what great ethical sales are all about.
For example, offering a white paper that explains the need for proper financial planning, can be a great way to begin a relationship with someone at the ‘awareness’ phase.
Once they have realized they have a problem and have given it a name, they are more ready to move onto the ‘consideration’ phase. In the consideration stage, your business can offer a case study comparing product-based financial advice with fee-only financial advice and demonstrate the advantages of the latter of course 😉
You may have already noticed that this process automatically acts as a filtering system for the client-prospects. Prospects who follow the ‘breadcrumbs content’ left by you at the three stages understand why they should be your clients and are better educated.
At each stage, your business has an opportunity to inform the prospect about what they can expect from you and your services. Organic, sustainably grown food wrapped in polystyrene is incongruent. So is slick, hard-sell strategies for Fee-Only FAs. Inbound marketing solves the problem of marketing without the snake-oil.
‘Be impeccable with your word’ connects Fee-Only Financial advisors and the Inbound Marketing methodology. In other words, there’s a natural affinity between the two. It makes perfect sense (especially) for Fee-Only Financial Advisors to adopt Inbound Marketing as their online platform for new business acquisition.
In the next post, we will explore the second agreement ‘Don’t Take things Personally’. It may sound a little strange right now, and I can promise you there are significant ways this agreement can play out in attracting ideal client prospects to your Financial Advice practice. So stay tuned.