"Making Money Where Others Fail": Morningstar’s knack for good titles

Who wouldn’t want to read an article entitled “Making Money Where Others Fail“?

That was the title of a recent message from Morningstar’s Fund Spy e-newsletter. I subscribe to Fund Spy partly to study their writing style. You can check out the Fund Spy archive.

"101 Five-Minute Fixes to Incrementally Improve Your Web Site"

Stress benefits. Ensure that your copy always shows users exactly how your site will benefit them.”

That’s fix number 4 of “101 Five-Minute Fixes to Incrementally Improve Your Web Siteand it’s a good one. If the people who visit your website don’t find benefits, rather than just features, they’re likely to flee.

But fixing a website that’s missing benefits is likely to take more than five minutes. It’s often difficult for the website owner to put their business’ benefits into words. Getting feedback from outsiders can often help ensure that you’re on the right track.

How to get a portfolio manager’s attention, and other email tips from an investment marketing consultant

It’s not easy getting portfolio managers to open your emails. That’s why investment marketing consultant Jen Dunning sometimes writes her email subject lines completely in capital letters.

“INVESTMENT COMMENTARY – PLEASE APPROVE BY JUNE 30” grabs the reader’s attention where a meeker “Please approve by June 30” would not. Note that she puts her key action verb, “approve,” and its object, “investment commentary,” in the subject line. That also boosts her emails’ effectiveness.

But limit your use of all-capitals subject lines to rare instances of pressing need with people who work for your own organization. You risk irritating your recipient if you use all-caps too often. It flouts the rules of email etiquette and is considered “shouting.”

Some additional email tips from Dunning:

  • Save your pleasantries for the end of your email because busy readers want to get to the point right away
  • Before you attach an Excel file, name it and insert page breaks and headers and footers, including page numbers and total number of pages


Producing investment pitch books without losing your mind, and other advice from Margaret Patterson

Designer Margaret Patterson’s posts about investment management pitch books were among the most popular on my previous blog. Her tips can make producing these important marketing materials less stressful.

Here are links to her posts.

Contact Margaret by posting a comment on this blog. Or, if you’re a potential client, call her at 617-971-0328.

"Is Spelling Overrated?"

Direct marketing guru Bob Bly recently asked “Is Spelling Overrated?” on his blog.

I don’t think so. Good spelling won’t win over new clients. But sentences rife with misspellings may make the reader wonder if you’re similarly sloppy with their money.

It’s one thing to have typos in the quick emails you send to your employees, as Bly points out. Quite another to tolerate them in formal communications to clients and prospects.

People often write “it’s” where “its” should be. “It’s” is short for “it is.” “Its” is the possessive form of “it.” This trips up many people because of the exception to the rule that you form a possessive by adding an apostrophe followed by the letter “s.”

English is a challenging language for spellers. Get someone else to proofread your most important written communications.

Tips for writing case studies

Case studies can be powerful tools for the wealth management professionals who’re allowed to use them.

A case study typically starts with a presentation of a client problem–something that’s causing the client pain. The problem is followed by the solution, and then the client results. When prospective clients recognize themselves in the problem, you’ve grabbed their attention.

In “How to Write a Case Study” (available for download without registering) consultant Toby Younis lays out the steps for writing a case study. If you’d like to try doing it yourself, you may find his list of questions on page 12 particularly helpful.

However, don’t write an investment management case study. That falls under the SEC’s prohibition against testimonials.

Why baby boomers will NOT offer a gold mine for financial services

If your business strategy depends heavily on Baby Boomer-driven rapid growth in the number of retirees, it’s time to re-think your approach.

That’s according to “The Baby Boomer Retirement Fallacy and What It Means to You,” which appears on a blog on the Harvard Business Publishing website.

Over the next 25 years, the number of retirees will grow at a rate of zero to 4% per annum, according to Kevin P. Coyne and Shawn T. Coyne, the management consultants who coauthored the blog post. The Coynes say the hype around Baby Boomer retirement fails to take into account the fact that people are staying in the work force later in life.

They’re selling versions of their study, “Smaller than You Thought: Estimates of the Future Size and Growth Rate of the Retirement Market in the United States” for prices ranging from $950 to $2,850.

Six tips for listening better to your clients

In my last post, “The Client Relationship Autopsy,” I wrote about how to analyze client relationships turned sour. But if you’d listened better to your clients, perhaps they’d still be with you.

Consider applying the six tips for better listening described in “What?” a New York Times blog post by Marci Alboher.

Tip number six may be especially challenging: “Do not interrupt, even if you think you’re going to forget what you want to say.” Instead, jot down a note, so you can circle back to your idea, if it’s still appropriate later.

One of the tips suggests nodding to show you’re listening. Nodding was essential when I lived in Japan for that very reason. If I kept completely still and silent, my conversation partner would have stopped talking because she or he would have assumed I wasn’t listening. But in the U.S., you should be careful about nodding. Here, nodding suggests that you agree with the speaker.

"The Client Relationship Autopsy"

You’ve probably lost at least one client. But rather than chalk it up as inevitable, try to learn why your client left you.

The Client Relationship Autopsy” proposes a process consisting of:

  1. Talking to your team
  2. Talking to your client
  3. Preparing a report

“The process will help you choose wisely when it comes to adding new clients, and it will help you glean insights for improving existing client relationships,” says Leo Bottary, the ad agency account director who wrote the article. He goes into detail with suggestions for each step.

Thank you, Boston Women in Finance!

Members of Boston Women in Finance made my experience enjoyable when I presented my one-hour workshop on “How to Write What People Will Read about Investments” yesterday.

Here’s some of their feedback on my presentation:

  • “Although brief, packed with very useful takeaways!”
  • “Susan was able to fit in an hour what people spend days learning in conferences”
  • “Susan reminded me to remember my audience and to listen to my ideas”
  • I learned “a new thought process for brainstorming” and “ways to make my market piece more direct and to the point”