Lessons from Steve Jobs on Delivering a Brand Experience

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Apple has little in common with the advisory business. But financial advisors, whose clients depend on them for sound investment management and financial-planning advice, can learn lessons from the tech giant when it comes to delivering a unique brand experience.

Regardless of the industry, customers do judge people and companies by appearances. The quality of a customer’s interaction with a business determines the customer’s overall impression — sometimes even more so than the actual product or service. Apple’s iconic founder and visionary legend, the late Steve Jobs, understood this and poured a tremendous amount of energy and resources into shaping the customer experience at strategically designed retail stores. Today, Apple stores are a much-coveted attraction for shopping malls all over the world. They draw so much business that shoppers schedule appointments. Jobs believed his stores represented an innovative way to communicate with customers. He emphasized that a customer should be able to walk into the retail space and, with one sweep of the eye, understand the flow. The store is shaped around the customer’s experience.

The same holds true for the advisor’s office – the place where clients visit and interact with you and your staff. It is here that clients receive a tactile impression of your firm. Considerations such as logo placement, interior colors and furniture style are obvious ways to convey your image.

However, go beyond aesthetics to deliver a complete brand experience for your clients so they will understand your unique value proposition without you having to say a word.

Have you ever spent time in your office from your client’s perspective? Spend a half-day sitting where your clients sit and looking at what they see in your space. Take note of items they don’t see but they should. In my years as a wholesaler, I have had the opportunity to visit many advisory firms. The ones that stand out know that:

  1. Comfort is key. Discussions regarding investment goals and objections may inevitably evoke your clients’ deepest fears, wishes and desires. Ensuring a comfortable environment conducive to conversation is paramount. Consider factors such as your typical client’s age, gender and lifestyle to customize your office space accordingly. For instance, advisors who cater to an elderly clientele may wish to “age-weight” their office by taking into account seemingly small details: Making sure printed materials feature a larger font size, and nave a convenient basket of eye glasses or a stash of pens that are a bit thicker and easier to grasp. Likewise, the lighting or temperature setting in your office may be adjusted to suit specific preferences. Blinds and other window treatments can help shield clients from glaring sunlight that can be distracting and uncomfortable. Thoughtful placement of beverages, snacks, magazines and books can help clients feel at home.