Have A Tale To Tell

This article was first featured in Financial Advisor Magazine on Jun 1st, 2023.

Human beings are naturally drawn to stories. Narratives can help us understand complex information, make sense of our world and help us forge connections with others.

Why is it so important for financial advisors to know this? Because they likely have never incorporated storytelling into their marketing messages. And if they did, their messages would likely resonate with their audiences on a deeper level. When they learn to tell stories, they take all the complicated information and data involved in someone’s financial life and put the human being at the center of it. And when you have a story that grabs an audience, you build stronger bonds with clients.

That’s important for advisors to know because they get most of their new assets from client referrals. In its “RIA Benchmarking Study,” Fidelity Investments says that 55% of new assets come from client referrals, whereas only 20% come from other sources. AssetMark, the trust and custodian company serving advisors, says something similar: It found in a recent report that 58% of wealthy investors found their financial advisor through a referral.

And yet, despite the importance of referrals, many advisors struggle to create marketing messages that take hold with their audiences. The ancient art of storytelling is something that can help them. By learning to tell stories, financial advisors can establish emotional connections with their target audiences, build trust, and create lasting impressions that lead them to more referrals and business growth.

Here, I’ll discuss four techniques you can use in your marketing efforts to create a compelling narrative that hits home with both clients and prospects alike.

The Personal Narrative

Every financial advisor has a unique story to tell about themselves. When you share your personal narrative—telling clients why you became an advisor, what your passions are and what your commitment is to helping them achieve their financial goals—you can create an emotional connection with your audience. This approach allows clients and prospects to see the person behind the business, fostering trust and loyalty.

When crafting your personal narrative, consider the challenges you’ve overcome, the pivotal moments that shaped your career, and the values that drive your work. Be authentic and genuine, and let your passion shine through. This story is perfect to share on your website in the “About Us,” section, as well as in the “About” section on your LinkedIn profile.

Client Success Stories

You can also share client success stories, which is a powerful way to demonstrate the impact of your financial advice. Such stories showcase your expertise, build credibility, and help clients envision the positive outcomes they could see by working with you.

When sharing other clients’ success stories, focus on their emotional journey rather than just the numbers. Highlight the goals, dreams, and aspirations that motivated them, and explain how your guidance helped them overcome obstacles and achieve success. These “case studies” are perfect to include on your website and provide powerful social proof to prospective clients who can relate to other people’s experiences.

Humanizing Data And Facts

When you talk about financial issues with clients, you’re often going over complex information such as market trends, investment strategies and economic forecasts. What would happen instead if you weaved a story around these data points, talking about them in a broader context so you can make the numbers more relatable and engaging for your audience?

For example, instead of presenting a dry chart of historical market returns, why not talk about a hypothetical investor who experienced ups and downs over time but ultimately achieved their financial goals? This approach can help clients see themselves in the story and better understand the concepts you’re presenting.

Emphasizing Shared Values

When you tell a story, you can also communicate the values that you and your clients share—values about family, for example, or community or financial independence, and that’s another way to create a sense of connection and alignment with your audience.

Your stories can also showcase your commitment to these values, whether it’s through your philanthropic efforts, your work with local organizations, or your approach to financial planning.

Putting Storytelling Into Practice

To effectively incorporate storytelling into your financial advisory marketing, consider the following tips:

Be consistent: Ensure that the stories you tell align with your overall brand message and values. Consistency is key to building trust and credibility with your audience.

Use multiple channels: Share your stories across various marketing channels, such as your website, blog, email newsletters, social media, and in-person events.

Encourage client participation: Invite your clients to share their stories and experiences, either through testimonials, case studies, or guest blog posts. This can add depth and authenticity to your marketing messages. (Note, however, that you’ll want to check with your compliance department to understand their policies on testimonials.)

Continuously hone your storytelling skills: Like any art form, storytelling requires practice and refinement. By continuously improving your skills here and seeking feedback from trusted colleagues or clients, you’ll ensure your stories are hitting the mark.

Standing Out

By embracing the art of storytelling in your marketing and communications, you can create emotionally resonant connections with your clients and prospects. This approach not only helps you stand out in a competitive industry but also fosters trust, loyalty, and a deeper understanding of your clients’ needs and aspirations. Ultimately, incorporating these techniques into your marketing efforts can lead to increased referrals, stronger client relationships, and sustainable business growth.

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