Great lines from Raymond James

“There is no one exactly like you. Raymond James financial advisors understand that.”

These lines from a Raymond James advertisement get right what so many financial ads and brochures get wrong. They focus on you, the client, instead of us, the firm. They also make the client feel unique. These are qualities I’d like to see more of in financial advisors’ marketing and communications.

How do YOUR marketing materials measure up?

First, pick your target market and niche

Scattershot marketing of your investment or financial advisory services will sap your energy. Plus, it makes it harder for you to distinguish yourself from your gazillion competitors. This is why I’d like you to pick your target market —the group of people whom you target—and niche, meaning the services you provide, before you write any marketing materials, including your blog.

Don’t know how to choose your target market or niche? “Why People Buy What You’re Selling,” Chapter 2 of Michael Port’s Book Yourself Solid offers exercises that will help.

“What are your clients’ compelling desires?” asks Port in this chapter. Understanding the answer to this question is a key to your marketing—and blogging—success.

Knowing your target market, niche, and your clients’ “compelling desires” will tell you who to address in your blog and which benefits of your services you should stress.

Edited July 21, thanks to comment from Ben.

Disclosure: If you click on an Amazon link in this post and then buy something, I will receive a small commission. I provide links to books only when I believe they have value for my readers.

Financial blogging lessons from The Poetry Home Repair Manual: Tips for more compelling posts

“The titles and the first few lines of your poem represent the hand you extend in friendship toward your reader. They’re the first exposure he or she has, and you want to make a good impression.”
— Ted Kooser, The Poetry Home Repair Manual: Practical Advice for Beginning Poets

This Ted Kooser quote applies to financial blog posts as well as to poems. Financial posts and poetry aren’t often mentioned in the same sentence. However, both forms of writing will win or lose readers on the basis of first impressions. So, I’d like to share tips for financial bloggers based on the “First Impressions” chapter of Kooser’s book.

1. Use your title to set your readers’ expectations
. Give up bland titles, such as “401(k) plans” in favor of titles that give your audience a reason to read. For example, my title for this post identifies my target audience—financial bloggers—and the benefit I believe they’ll receive—more compelling posts. “Titles are very important tools for delivering information and setting expectations,” as Kooser says. Instead of “401(k) plans,” consider something like “Three ways you can get more out of your 401(k) plan.”

2. Don’t lead with boring information
. Put your background information somewhere other than your opening lines. Too often, as Kooser says, bloggers—like poets—start with “information that really is not essential but is there because it was a part of the event that triggered the poem. It’s the background story, and it may not be necessary for us to know it to appreciate the poem.”

3. Deliver on your promise. For example, if your title and first paragraph promise 401(k) tips, don’t switch midstream to discussing online checking accounts.

4. Write in a consistent style. If you drew in your blog readers with a warm, conversational style, you’ll lose them when you switch to a cold, institutional style. As Kooser says, “If a poem begins with three lines of strict iambic pentameter, a reader will be disconcerted if that forceful rhythm is abandoned in the fourth line.”

5. Be aware of your “voice.” Kooser describes “voice” or “presence” as “the person we not only hear, but intuit to be behind the words.” For example, I think my voice is friendly, conversational, and reflects a genuine desire to help financial advisors communicate better with their clients. Voice is communicated by your writing style as well as your content.

Try applying one–or all–of these tips in your next financial blog post!

Related posts
* Start with a good lead, or lose your reader

* Financial writers, lead with your message, not your source

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Copyright 2010 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

Pull your white papers into the year 2010

Investment and wealth managers, you can get a lot more mileage out of your white papers today.

How’s that?

Don’t forget about the content once it’s up on your website. Reuse it using social media.

Recycle as blog posts
White paper content can be recycled into blog posts. In some cases, you can pluck a few paragraphs and drop them into your blog “as is.” However, most of the time, you’ll need to frame and re-write the content. I’ve been doing this recently for a white paper client.  

Another possibility: Send your white paper to a blogger whom you respect. Offer to answer questions about your topic on the other person’s blog. Check out “How to guest-blog on personal finance or investments,” if you’d like to explore this option

Tweet it–and don’t forget LinkedIn
It’s a no-brainer to tweet the availability of your white paper. Smart marketers go beyond this. They tweet intriguing excerpts, keeping them short enough to be retweetable. Pithy quotes are popular on Twitter.

Remember, tweets are also great fodder for LinkedIn updates. While you’re over at LinkedIn, you may also want to raise a question in a Group related to your white paper topic.

Go multimedia
Different members of your audience prefer to take in content in different ways. So, also consider turning your white papers into podcasts, videos, or interactive webinars.

Related posts

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Copyright 2010 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

Quick email tips for financial advisors and clients in my guest post

You can snare some quick tips for advisor-client email communications in my guest post for the KBK Wealth Connection blog.

The tips boil down to

  1. Get to your point quickly
  2. Keep it short
  3. Organize clearly

Visit Kathleen’s blog for more details.
Susan Weiner, CFA, writes and edits articles, white papers, blogs, investment commentary, web pages, and other communications for leading investment and wealth management firms. She has presented “How to Write Emails and Letters Your Clients Will Read” to great reviews by financial advisors 

Copyright 2010 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

Guest post: "Talking to clients about social investing"

Socially responsible investing can make for a difficult conversation between investment managers and their clients. But it doesn’t have to be that way if you follow the tips provided by my friend Annie Logue, the author of Socially Responsible Investing for Dummies.

Talking to clients about social investing
By Ann C. Logue

Often, an individual client will walk into an office with a list of industries and companies that he or she does not want to own. Some clients have well-thought out objections or religious obligations that set the tone, but others have a vague idea of the goodness or badness of an industry without any real reasoning behind it.

How do you deal with such a customer?

Social criteria can be legitimate investment constraints, so one tactic is to approach it as a constraint. Get the client to identify the real issues, ideally in writing. Are they religious? Well, you can’t argue with religion! If they are more vague, then use some good questioning to get them onto paper, or ask the client to do some research. Some good sources are CSR Wire and Triple Pundit.

The real conversation is about what your client would rather invest in. Social investing doesn’t have to have lesser performance than traditional investing; the KLD Social Select 400 Index has minimal tracking error to the S&P 500 and, right now, outperforms it slightly. The secret is making sure that the companies you do invest in have a similar risk and return profile. If your client wants to sell BP, then you’d better find a company with similar characteristics. Replace BP with a speculative green tech company, and you’re changing the portfolio’s nature. Replace it with a large multinational food company with responsible business practices, paying a high dividend, and subject to commodity price fluctuations, and you’re getting closer to the portfolio contribution of BP without the oil exposure.

Keep holding the conversation, too. BP had a great reputation for its social responsibility right up until April of 2010. Social investing is still investing, and you still take on company risk. Just as there is no perfect job and no perfect boyfriend, there is no perfect investment. Remind your client of the long-term goals. Many clients prefer to separate their investing from their philanthropy, figuring that the more money they make, the more money they can donate and the more time they have to volunteer.

Finally, turn your clients into activists. Talk to them about proxies. They can vote their proxies and have an influence on companies even if they do not change their ownership positions. That gives the client power without disrupting an investment position.

Social investing doesn’t have to underperform, and it doesn’t have to be a wedge between you and your client. You can use a client’s interest as an opportunity to educate them and to show how you can add value to their portfolio.
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Copyright 2010 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

My May blog posts by category: Blogging, economy/investments/wealth management, marketing, social media, writing

Did you notice that I went wild in May, posting every day as part of the Word Count Blogathon? For your convenience, I’m listing my May posts by category.


Economy, investments, and wealth management


Social media


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Copyright 2010 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

The two most important words are…

Copyblogger Brian Clark’s lessons in “The two most important words in blogging” apply equally to any form of marketing communication. Pay attention because using these words will make your communications more persuasive.

See if you can guess the two words before you surf to Copyblogger’s site. If you have attended any of my presentations on writing, you should know one of the two answers.
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Copyright 2010 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

How to write subheads that command attention

Copyblogger Brian Clark accurately notes in “How to write exquisite subheads” that subheads can turn scanners into readers.

I especially like his advice that a subhead should “express a clear and complete benefit.”
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Copyright 2010 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

Tip for how to connect with your workshop attendees

Advisors, you can deepen your connection with folks who attend your investment or financial planning workshops using a technique I observed at the Financial Planning Association of Massachusetts annual conference on May 7.

Consultant Shari Harley, whom I wrote about in “How to improve your financial planning client relationships,” handed out postcards to her audience. There’s nothing unusual about that. But what she said next grabbed my attention.

Harley asked us to write on the postcard (shown in the photo above) at least one thing that we learned from her presentation that we’d like to apply. Then she promised to mail the postcards to us in one month, if we dropped them off on our way out of the auditorium.

I like Harley’s postcard idea because

  1. Her question spurs the audience to think about what was most valuable in her presentation.
  2. She gains valuable feedback when participants hand in their cards.
  3. She reminds potential clients of her existence–with their permission–when they receive their cards one month later.
  4. If audience members haven’t acted on their goals by the time they receive the cards, they may say, “I need a consultant to help me act on this.”

This postcard technique should work nicely as follow-up to any sort of financial seminar or workshop.
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Copyright 2010 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved