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Persuading through Themes

Effective advertising centers on repetition. Only after a certain level of exposure will the target audience gain familiarity with the message and visuals. And, only with familiarity will persuasive messages motivate the audience to purchase. This core tenet is nothing more than how humans naturally learn.

The typical advisory firm is a small business with a limited budget for marketing outreach. The good news is the resource for persuasion today—marketing through digital means—is readily available and low cost (if not free of hard-dollar costs).

Thematic Repetition
There are many resources available to guide advisers in establishing an effective digital and social media presence; that’s not the focus here. This post emphasizes persuasion through using strategic marketing themes merchandised through various digital outlets.

A theme can be reflected in content on an adviser’s home page, detailed in a blog, merchandised in an email blast or newsletter, summarized via Twitter, captured visually in a Facebook feed and tailored in an email message. To an adviser’s relationships, the theme—and the benefits it delivers—is internalized through exposure to these different communication channels.

The WIIFM Reality
WIIFM—an acronym for “what’s in it for me”—in many ways determines the willingness for a message recipient to be moved persuasively.

While we like to think that simply imparting our wisdom and advice should be enough, the market wants the benefits clearly presented and immediate. It’s essential to understand that WIIFM isn’t just the benefits at the final sale, but at every desired interaction.

Another WIIFM marketing aspect is the trust building from successfully delivering a string of benefits, even small ones within the larger theme itself. The more a recipient experiences valuable interactions, the more likely he or she will be to engage in intensive communication indicative of meetings deeper in the sales process.

Themes Linked to Business Strategies
Think of a theme as a story. The story tells a reader what the problem is, who is involved and the outcome. The same story can be told with gripping character details in a lengthy book, as a picture book or a simple two-sentence synopsis.

A marketing theme supports a strategic service. A lot of marketing money is wasted because an adviser’s service solution, and its associated benefits, don’t explicitly demonstrate how a market’s needs are satisfied.

A Thematic Delivery Hierarchy
A properly executed theme produces persuasive content in different forms and scope. At the top level in the hierarchy, the theme is explained in its fullest form while at the bottom the theme is tailored to particular client/prospect circumstances.

Marketing Content Hierarchy“Explain” Level: In many ways, this level is the most formative since the theme is fully presented and detailed. From here, each other level can be traced.

  • Delivery Method: White papers and presentations
  • Marketing Role: During the writing process, the theme shows itself as a prototype. As ideas are described and linked, any logic, persuasion or process weaknesses are exposed before the theme becomes operationally active. Once finalized, the document—attractively presented and written persuasively—becomes a guidebook illustrating the theme’s full benefit inventory to the client/prospect audience.

“Segment” Level: A marketing theme is actually comprised of key segments (i.e. features or functions) and each has associated benefits. Think of a segment as a subplot or episode in a larger story.

  • Delivery Method: Blogs, e-newsletters and website content
  • Marketing Role: Presenting focused segments one by one results in a content calendar. A segment has its own benefits, and these are spotlighted (and especially meaningful for those clients/prospects needing one set of benefits more than others).

“Point” Level: This level emphasizes specific WIIFM benefits.

  • Delivery Method: Email blasts, Facebook feeds and website visuals/photographs
  • Marketing Role: A single, key benefit is presented to motivate recipients to learn more (through the two higher levels).

“Fit” Level: This engagement level answers a client/prospect’s questions through the theme itself. Some people call this “staying on message,” but it’s more accurate to view it as retelling the theme directly through the client/prospect’s circumstances.

  • Delivery Method: Email replies, phone calls, face-to-face meetings and Facebook posts.

Persuasion Culminates in Conversion
Today, people have many defenses to persuasion. People want to take in information on their own time and under their control. Yet, persuasion happens every day when a mind is opened because a message hits a need and a solution’s benefits are there to fulfill it. A strategic marketing theme persuades through delivered benefits.

Kirk Loury

Kirk Loury
President
Wealth Planning Consulting Inc.
Princeton Junction, New Jersey


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The Experience Story: In Reverse

It’s no secret that telling a great story can help prospects better understand your recommendations. Story-based selling is the art of using metaphors, analogies or stories to do just that. However, what is little known is that you can have a similar effect when you set the stage by having a prospect share an experience about themselves or about someone they know who has used a particular product or service. Many times you get them to buy into the products or services you are about to recommend based on a story they have just shared with you, so that there is little need for you to go down the path of a typical closing. This process is a reversal of sorts as the standard practice is for advisers or agents to have to share their existing client’s experiences in order to “sell” to a prospective client. So I refer to this as “the experience story: in reverse.”

During a recent group coaching session on story-based selling, I had asked all the attendees if they told stories during their presentations to help close the sale. I had coached on this material dozens of times before, asking this question each time, but what was new that day was what one adviser said, “I don’t tell them stories but instead I have them tell me stories.”

She went on to explain that the reason she did this was so that the prospect could eventually tell her the benefits that the individual in their story received from having a product or service. Once that occurred, the prospect often came to the conclusion that they could also receive the exact same value. In other words, they sold themselves on why they should buy.

Let’s take a brief look at how this process works:

  • Uncover the Prospect’s Experience: It’s important to begin by asking a great question to identify if the prospect has any personal experience or has known anyone who has had an experience with what you are about to recommend. The key is not to formulate your question around the product or service but rather about a situation or scenario that would prompt the need for that product or service. An example of what NOT to ask would be, “Have you ever known anyone who had long-term care insurance?” However, DO inquire, “Have you ever known anyone who went into a nursing home or assisted living?” Remember to make this question common enough to ensure that they will have some type of a story to tell you.
  • Invite the Prospect to Share their Experience: Once the prospect answers your question, invite them to tell you more. Some examples of good “cue” questions would be, “Why did they go to the nursing home or assisted living in the first place? How long were they there? What do you think it cost them to stay there? How do you think they paid for it?” Make sure you sprinkle in these types of questions to more readily “cue” the prospect to share more of the story and create a strong dialogue.
  • Uncover the Benefits and Tell a Story: After you let their story unfold, it’s time to help them uncover the benefits of the product or service that you will be recommending. Use questions such as, “Do you know what it currently costs for one month in a nursing home or assisted living situation? What do you think it might cost in ten to fifteen years if you or a loved one would need to stay in one? How would you pay for it?” At this point, explain your own experience of helping a client who was in a similar situation and the recommendation you made to them. Here is an example of how to make a seamless transition, “I am here to help assist my clients so that don’t have to worry about the cost and here is why…” Then, explain the product or service and how it has helped your current clients.
  • Ask for the Order: All that is left to do at this point is to help them come to the conclusion that they can benefit from this product or service just like your existing clients. Simply, ask a question such as, “Based on what we just talked about, what do you think is the best course of action for you?”

Why the Prospect Will Buy
If you have followed these aforementioned steps, the prospect will typically come to the conclusion that they want to buy because they want the same benefits as your clients. You have strategically led them to uncover their own need(s). In this case that was to be financially prepared for either themselves or a family member to go into a nursing home or assisted living facility, as well as the solution, with this example, long-term care insurance.

If you read this article and would like helpful techniques about how to create your own experience story: in reverse, email Melissa Denham, director of client servicing at melissa@advisorsolutionsinc.com to schedule a free complimentary consultation with Dan Finley.

Dan Finley

Daniel C. Finley
President
Advisor Solutions
St. Paul, Minn.

 

Daniel Finley presents an FPA webinar titled “Beyond the Production Plateau: The Solution to Your Business Evolution” from 2 to 3 p.m., EDT, June 8. Register for the webinar here


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FPA Retreat 2016: Thursday, April 28

The Wigwam Resort outside Phoenix, Ariz., welcomed Financial Planning Association members this week for FPA Retreat 2016. Below are photos from Thursday, April 28.

Did you miss Retreat this year, or just want to register for 2017 early? Join us next year at Château Élan in North Atlanta, Georgia April 24-27, 2017. Use the code PARET17 for $100 off if you register before May 31, 2016.