The Two Most Important Words in Wealth Management Marketing
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Marketing revolves around words. What words do we use to describe ourselves? What words will resonate and connect with our audience? What words will drive more digital engagement?
As a financial professional, choosing words for your business starts with understanding that you operate in a unique category under unique circumstances. Namely:
- You operate in a highly commoditized category.
- The category is complicated to understand and assess from a client’s perspective.
- Client acquisition is brutally hard, with referrals acting as a top source for finding clients.
These unique circumstances drive unique needs. You need to find a way to differentiate yourself in a cluttered, confusing category while building deep affinity with your existing client base to drive word of mouth.
And that brings us to the two most important words in wealth management marketing. They are:
Two simple words. But why do they matter so much? If you define what follows them, you differentiate your practice and build a “cult-like” set of followers who you won’t even need to ask for referrals they’ll just do it because they believe in you so much.
Why are beliefs important?
Before we get into architecting your own belief system, it’s important to understand the power of beliefs. As we all know from our own experience, beliefs are so strongly rooted that they often overpower facts. And to quote Psychology Today, “Beliefs are our brain’s way of making sense of and navigating our complex world.”
Think about that when it comes to finance. Finances are complicated. They intersect with long-term thinking, deep-rooted behaviors and even teachings passed down by generations and cultures. Furthermore, the markets are impossible for anyone to decipher – especially the average investor.
A belief system lets you cut through all these complicating factors and arrive on a simple way to connect with potential and existing clients.
What is a belief?
Defining a belief is like trying to define “ironic” – you know it when you see it, but describing it is hard.
Perhaps the best way to define a belief is that it is a clarifying, organizing view on a world or a system – as mentioned before, it’s a simple way to interpret something complex. If you look at the same article from Psychology Today, you’ll see that there are familiar factors which shape our beliefs. Our beliefs may be shaped by our personal experience with money. They are so important to us that they are often a part of our own identity. And they are often framed and shaped by the people around us – whether it’s our nuclear family, the community around us, or yes – social media (big sigh).
Principles for defining your belief system
Your belief system is your own – so I welcome you to define it any way you please. But recognize that you will not actually benefit from a clearly defined belief system if it isn’t constructed with certain things in mind:
- It puts a stake in the ground. A vanilla belief statement (“We believe all investors deserve good, sound financial advice) will not serve to differentiate you or draw in followers. If you are to draw a line in the sand, you need to ensure that your belief statement makes it crystal clear to clients and prospects where you stand.
- It’s simple. Your belief statement has to simplify, not complicate. You should be able to get your belief statement across in a sentence. Sure, there can be some points that follow to help clarify, but the simpler the better.
- It’s real. It may go without saying, but you had better actually believe your belief statement. Why? Because when sharing your belief system, you need to be passionate about it so that clients can see that it’s an authentic part of your practice and identity.
- It’s realized. Belief systems go beyond statements – they involve actual tangible practices as well. You need to embed your belief system in everything you do – from how you service your clients to the way you invest their money.
How to define it
Here are some tips for defining your own belief system:
- Start by looking inside: Belief systems aren’t invented – they come from within. Look deep inside yourself and think about what you most passionately believe. This helps ensure that your belief system is something you can really get behind.
- Think about what you don’t believe in: If you want to draw a line in the sand, a helpful area to consider is what you passionately don’t believe in. Think about what you want your belief system to set you against.
- Write down a high-level statement: Once you have your belief system in your head, you need to get it on paper. Write down a high-level statement in a single, crisp sentence that can help to clarify what you believe. Make sure the statement is bold and believable – see the following section for some sample belief statements.
- Operationalize your beliefs: You next need to figure out ways your belief system will become ingrained into the experience of your practice. Does it shape how you engage your clients? How you plan on their behalf? How you invest on their behalf? Write down 3-4 ways you’ll make your belief systems a reality within your practice.
- Share it: You need to market your belief system. Think about engraining the messaging in all touch-points – from your introductory elevator pitch to your website to introductory collateral. Surround your audience with your belief, and the hope is that they’ll surround you with referrals.
Some sample belief statements
The following are three sample belief statements to get your wheels turning. You’ll notice these are clear, clean, simple and take a stand.
We believe that any advisor can manage your investment portfolio – but not every advisor can help you navigate all the aspects of life that your investment portfolio influences.
We believe that investing for upside has a tremendous downside – more volatility, missed expectations, a poor investment experience, and, ultimately, bad investor decisions.
We believe that the only way to receive quality financial advice is by working with an advisor who truly knows you and your unique challenges – which is why we only serve medical professionals in our practice.
Each of these are very different statements that beget very different kinds of practices. But you see that each of them draws a clear line in the sand about who you are, who you aren’t, and what your promise is to clients. And as clients experience your belief system in action, it’s easier to see things like client retention, more referrals and a better overall client experience become a reality.
You just need to take the time to define the words that come after “We believe.”
Phil Edelstein is the founder of Substance Strategy & Creative, a branding firm built for the financial services sector. In addition to a multi-year tenure as head of advertising, public relations and internal communications for Hartford Funds, Phil has brought his expertise to bear for financial firms like SEI, DLL, Maples Group, PowerPay, Beneficial Bank, Philadelphia Federal Credit Union, Sun National Bank and a number of other wealth management and fintech brands.