A High-Touch Practice—Literally

A High-Touch Practice—Literally

Academic research suggests touching your clients—hugs, pats, a touch on the arm—is an effective way to strengthen personal bonds.


What is the magic touch in financial advisor marketing? It may be about touch—literally. New evidence shows that small instances of physical contact, like a friendly pat on the back, is an evolved kind of non-verbal language that means a lot. Think in terms of wordless communications—a pat on the back, a touch on the arm accompanying a handshake, a friendly hug, or even a high-five—signaling an emotion that is more spontaneous and authentic than anything you can say. 

In a Feb. 22, 2010 New York Times article “Evidence That Little Touches Do Mean So Much,” author Benedict Carey references studies conducted at the University of California, University of Indiana and Harvard that support the fact that a friendly personal touch has a profound and positive impact, whether it’s strengthening the relationship, improving performance, or simply improving the perception of performance. 

According to the article, “students who received a supportive touch on the back or arm from a teacher were nearly twice as likely to volunteer in class as those who did not,” and “a sympathetic touch from a doctor leaves people with the impression that the visit lasted twice as long, compared with estimates from people who were untouched.”

How does this impact a financial advisor’s marketing efforts? Subtly, simply and profoundly.

If every time you interact with an affluent client personally, whether it’s a meeting or socially, you begin and end the encounter with a friendly touch, you will strengthen the relationship.   The stronger the relationship, the faster you can penetrate the spheres of influence and get introduced to potential clients. And our research is very clear that personal introductions are the primary method today’s affluent discovered their advisors.

If a doctor’s friendly pat on the back or arm heightens the patient’s perception of the attention they are getting from the doctor in terms of time, think of what a friendly pat on the back or arm will do as you develop rapport with the affluent prospect whom your client introduced. It serves to accelerate the bonding, the building of trust.

I discussed this with Alan, a financial advisor who regularly hugs his clients. He chuckles and clarifies that he’s “not out there hugging each prospect when I get introduced. But, just as you described with the doctor, I always give a warm pat on the back or arm at some point—it definitely helps build rapport. And the prospect will usually see me hugging my client, prior to the two of us being introduced.”

In today’s affluent world, financial advisor marketing is all about relationships—which is why we refer to it as relationship marketing.   

Just the other day one of our coaches shared a story of a financial advisor he’s coaching whose clients, many of them retired, won’t leave the office until they get hugs from his two support personnel.

If you’re not into hugs, that’s okay; simply master the magic of the “warm touch” both with clients and prospects. 

Get out there and develop your magic touch to accelerate your affluent marketing results.    

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