Educating Clients In A Confusing World

Friday, August 21, 2009 00:48
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Educating Clients In A Confusing World

Given the ongoing turmoil in the financial markets and the economy in general, financial advisors continually face an uphill battle when it comes to explaining their value to current and prospective clients. Fortunately, this is one area where public relations can deliver big dividends.

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Like most professionals, advisors often get wrapped up in the technical and core management aspects of their jobs, neglecting other core, essential functions such as marketing and communications. Conversely, the client is often focused on one metric alone - returns - making it critically important that advisors increase their public relations savvy.

The benefit of developing a stronger PR mindset is two-fold: 1) Better communications practices can help advisors retain current clients -- something every advisor views as essential and 2) A good public relations program can help advisors stand out from what is even now a crowded pack, making it easier for a prospective client to determine why they should select one particular professional over another.

When embarking on a public relations strategy, the first thing I urge all advisors to remember is that they reside in a very "jargon-laden" world. While an advisor will instantly recognize a term like "socially-responsible investing," clients generally don't. Worse still, there are confusing connotations associated with commonly used terms like "value investing." As I'm sure I don't have to mention here, so often a term like value is associated with meaning cheap, when it's anything but.

For these reasons, advisors need to constantly put themselves in the client's shoes when they're creating messages and themes for their public relations plans. As much as possible, when you read over the key messages you've created, try to think objectively and evaluate whether they really deliver a clear meaning. The need to create messages with a clear meaning brings about one of the few instances when the old axiom "less is more" might not be true.

Even for those who opt to retain an outside PR counselor who has a specialty in financial services, it's vital to realize that the best practitioner can only succeed with the client's help and involvement. Client participation in the initial stages of a PR campaign is critical because the best, most original ideas often pay the biggest dividends.

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