By Matthew Bryan
The irony of the age we live in is that most people are thirsting for human connection in a world where so much has gone digital. For financial advisors, this can feel even more pronounced.
Participants in The Guardian Study of Financial and Emotional Confidence named trustworthiness, integrity, knowledge, listening and experience as the top five traits they believe are most important in an advisor. However, almost 50 percent of advisors were rated as only “pretty good” when it comes to actually delivering on these traits for their clients. The takeaway here is not that advisors lack these attributes, it’s just something is missing that fails to emotionally connect advisor and client which causes this disparity.
What can advisors do to incrementally build rapport, emotionally connect and provide a human touch, when they’re not meeting with their clients face-to-face? The Catch-22 of today’s landscape is how can you incrementally build human, emotional connection with your clients in an increasingly digital age?
- Video Is King: Egon Spengler presciently stated in Ghostbusters (1984) that “print is dead.” Although he may have been about 30 years early, advisors need to heed his statement. According to Forrester Research, one minute of video is worth 1.8 million words. YouTube has over a billion users, almost one-third of total internet users.
Video is the most efficient and emotional way to communicate with consumers and its versitility. Advisors can share video on social media, email, post to their websites or play it in their office or before a seminar on a flat screen. Use video to tell your firm’s story. Perhaps you can produce a savings tip of the week and post it to your Facebook Business Page? Whatever your message or frequency is, video is your best friend for building digital emotional rapport. It’s why more than 500 million hours of videos are watched on YouTube each day. Your mobile phone can be an effective and inexpensive device to record simple, short 30-second clips. Additionally, there are tons of start-up video vendors offering great rates for financial advisors to produce professional video on an ongoing basis at reasonable rates.
- Stay Social with Social Media: Accenture data shows that 90 percent of B2B buyers and 82 percent of B2C buyers conduct online research before contacting a sales professional. Being present on social media is no longer a question, and using social media to build your presence in your local market is critical. LinkedIn is a natural place for advisors to remain top-of-mind with prospects and clients. A professional picture, a well-written profile, and a compelling headline are basic “to-dos.” Sharing emotionally engaging content regularly is where you need to put your efforts.
When it comes to sharing content, the 80/20 rule tends to make sense. Share non business-related content that matches you and your network’s interest. This helps shape your online personality and reminds clients and prospects there is more to you than discussing the stock market. Twenty percent of your content should be focused on financial planning strategies and solutions you offer. Make sure you check who is liking, commenting, and resharing your content. This is an opportunity to connect and say hello and show that you’re listening. Technology is making it easier for advisors to share content more frequently, while meeting compliance and supervision guidelines; just be sure to check with your firm’s policies before getting started.
- Your Website Should Educate and Inspire: If you don’t have a professional website, drop everything right now and get one. If you don’t exist on the web, you don’t exist. Is your website full of outdated stock imagery and a long list of the products and services you offer? If so, you need a web makeover that brings to life the personality of you and your business. The imagery, navigation, design, copy and interactive features should engage and work hard to connect with consumers.
The Guardian Study of Financial and Emotional Confidence revealed a population of Americans are “confident planners,”who exhibited a pattern of behaviors and attitudes that correlated with greater emotional and financial confidence. One of the key attributes of confident planners included higher levels of financial literacy and financial product understanding. Use your website to help educate your clients and prospects to build their confidence and allegiance to you. Your site should include a dynamic section of educational quizzes, infographics, videos and other media to educate and entertain. Check out livingconfidently.com to get inspired. The Google Analytics Finance Industry Average for time spent on a page is 1:54. Work your site strategy to beat this benchmark.
- Emote with Email: Staying in front of your clients and prospects on a regular basis ensures you’re remaining top of mind. Consider a weekly, monthly and quarterly email strategy. Here’s a simple approach to consider:
Weekly: Send out a market recap.
Monthly: Newsletter: Send out the latest and greatest saving and investing tips along with articles of interest.
Quarterly: Use this as an opportunity to share longer form content—perhaps an article you’ve written or a video discussion on a particular planning strategy.
The average banking and financial services open rate is 20.97 percent, and the average click rate is 2.73 percent, according to data gathered by Mail Chimp. Use these benchmarks to see if your email is connecting. Additionally, after 48 hours check who is opening your email—good opportunity to call those prospects and clients who opened or you haven’t spoken to in a while.
Digital transformation is real. But, so is the need for human-to-human connection. Make sure your digital experience is emotionally engaging, educational, and use it as an opportunity to incrementally build rapport when you’re not there in person.
Matthew Bryan is Assistant Vice President, Distribution Marketing, at The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America.