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Faith Liversedge: why invisible doesn’t have to mean unmarketable when it comes to advice firms

In these days of digital communications, creating excellence in your marketing and client experience propositions has never been more crucial. As well as highlighting the problems involved, Faith Liversedge shares a few tips to help advisers to up their game when it comes to creating a real, shareable experience that clients will love.

I often say that one of the main challenges when it comes to marketing financial advice is that it’s invisible. Vastly important and life changing it may be, but for someone who hasn’t worked with an adviser before, it’s ephemeral, intangible, and hard to put your finger on. Contrast that with marketing a car or a beautiful notepad. The advert might get you in the showroom, but when you test drive it off the forecourt, feel the leather seats, imagine yourself being air conditioned on the M25, it’s a lot easier to part with your hard-earned cash.

Or at least that’s the theory.

But in our world, let’s face it, what do your clients walk away with that’s tangible after an initial meeting? Unless you count the business card or they’re lucky enough to get a brochure. And this is before we talk about meeting via video rather than in person, when there’s not even a posh coffee and organic biscuit to speak of.

Newsflash: this might not be a problem these days

Finance is much less alone than it used to be in the world of the intangible service. Think about it: the most valuable companies that are holding the Nasdaq up today are selling something deeply intangible.

What are Google, Facebook and all the digital-only tech behemoths selling if not an invisible service? So many things that we pay for and care about have moved into the digital space over the past 18 months.

So don’t worry, you’re in good company.

But it’s not just faceless technology companies

Such a lot of what is truly meaningful to us is increasingly ephemeral: photographs, books, music. They may be sources of relaxation, exercise or entertainment that exist more or less as ghosts or vapours, but these are key to our enjoyment and recreation.

This poses a unique (middle-class) problem when it comes buying Christmas presents. Having to think of meaningful gifts that are worth getting the wrapping paper and Sellotape out for is proving harder and harder because so much of what we love is in the Cloud.

I’ve seen this frustration in older relatives of mine, who you can tell are as much bamboozled as disappointed in this digital-first world for robbing them of the need for things. They’ll pretend the weighty, shiny marbled Mont Blanc pens they’re buying each other this year are just what they always wanted, but I bet they’ll never use them. They’ll sit in a box next to the overworked router.

Perhaps this explains why previously extinct items such as vinyl and cassettes are coming back from the dead.

Experience comes first

People have long spent more of their money on invisible things than things. Momentum Worldwide released some research back in 2019 which identified stark shifts in consumer behaviours and attitudes. It showed that 76% of consumers prefer to spend on experiences than on material items. People long to escape everyday life, learn something new, gather with others – that’s likely to be even more so post-pandemic I’d imagine.

This sounds to me like the perfect opportunity to home in on this perception.

By creating an exceptional experience for your clients, particularly when supported by technology, you can really begin to bring financial advice to life. You can make it so much more than just the annual review meeting on Zoom. The best part? In doing so, you become instantly more marketable.

This might sound a bit out there, but think about it. The client experience starts from the first touchpoint and very often that’s in the digital space. What does your website feel like to use? What’s your email communication like after the first enquiry? What do your instructions to the office look like? Your first client newsletter?

And what about your portal? Is it something that clients will want to check, will feel comfortable with, does it add value? Or is it just adding security and streamlining e-signatures…

Even things like gamification

The most innovative advice firms are employing notifications keeping clients abreast of how their portfolio is ticking along, even keeping clients in the loop about their ESG credentials.

The aim of the game here is making something which is, by definition, intangible more real, so it becomes more of an experience. And that is infinitely more ‘shareable’ too; in some cases, let’s say an email newsletter, all your client has to do is click ‘forward’.

In that time between those few face-to-face moments for clients, remind clients you’re there, you’re looking after them and reassure them. And give them something worth sharing.

Just because financial advice is invisible doesn’t mean it’s unremarkable. Or unmarketable.

Photo of Faith Liversedge

About Faith Liversedge

Faith Liversedge is an experienced communicator with a wealth of knowledge and understanding of the adviser profession. She was Marketing Manager at Nucleus for 5 years, creating innovative and award-winning campaigns. Before that she worked for Standard Life, Prudential and Royal London. In 2017 she set up her own consultancy to help forward-thinking financial advisers and planners to become more profitable through websites, communications and other laser-focused marketing techniques.

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