There’s a lot of research about effective marketing, but most advisors ignore it.
I find this odd. The same advisors who rely on rigorous evidence to support their investing philosophy routinely engage in marketing practices that aren’t supported (and are often contradicted) by compelling studies.
Here are four big mistakes I see by advisors who aren’t aware of the science behind effective marketing.
Assuming too long of an attention span
The evidence supporting our short attention spans is compelling. If your marketing materials include anything digital (webpage, videos etc.), you need to grab the attention of the viewer in 10 seconds or less.
A critical part of your marketing involves meetings with prospects and clients. At these meetings, you often present data you believe is relevant and persuasive. In his book, Brain Rules, John Medina notes that, in the typical presentation, people have usually “checked out” sometime within the first 15 minutes.
How many meetings have you had that lasted less than 15 minutes?
Providing too much information
Here’s the most common communication mistake identified by Medina: Providing too much information.
You know a lot about investing and wealth management. You may not appreciate what it’s like to not have a basic understanding of stocks and bonds.
When you convey complex information in large doses, the listener doesn’t have time to “connect the dots.” You might as well be speaking a foreign language.
The combination of a short attention span and conveying too much information is the perfect storm for communicating ineffectively.
Ignoring your prospects’ interests
Boredom is the enemy of good marketing.
When you’re speaking, the listener is influenced by memory and interest.
A prospect with a history of struggling financially will respond to a discussion of risk differently than one who inherited a trust fund. Unless you take the time to inquire about the background of the prospect, it will be very difficult for you to tune into their needs.
We are influenced by our interests. Pet owners will respond more favorably to communications about animals.
With both memory and interest, you’re flying blind if you launch into a presentation without understanding the person in front of you.
If there’s one truism about effective marketing, it’s this: Emotions grab our attention. Medina notes the importance of emotionally charged events. They’re “better remembered” for longer periods of time.
Here’s an exercise. Take a look at your marketing materials (website, video, blog and brochures). Rate the content on a scale of 1 to 10, with “1” being little or no emotion and “10” being maximum emotion.
I suspect most of you would be on the lower end of the scale.
Do the same with your presentations. They may be technically perfect, but they probably don’t provoke an emotional response.
When I view animated explainer videos or advisors in front of a green screen discussing an investing subject, my eyes glaze over. I’m bored. There’s no emotional hook.
I feel the same way about most blogs. They’re filled with data, but detached from emotions.
Webpages are even worse. They’re often cold and impersonal. I don’t get a feeling for who these people really are or why I should trust them with my life savings. They’re not likeable or even relatable.
An effective marketing strategy requires taking the time to learn the evidence.