As a marketer, I get very excited when the major consumer trend-watching reports are released each year. For 2015, there are three deepening shifts in the consumer experience or psyche that will create opportunities for advisors who want to get more creative in their marketing:
- Robolove: In the 2013 film Her, Joaquin Phoenix fell in love with his computer. Many more people began to relate to Siri on their iPads. In 2015, the research site trendwatching.com predicts consumers will have more talk time and even face time (man meets machine) with robots, and they will like it.
- Emotional branding: In the battle for hearts, minds and wallets, brands have adopted personalities and used visuals and tone to find connection with clients. In 2015, this will go even further. Brands will even take stands on important human issues, perhaps risking a wide audience for a more passionately attached and loyal fan base.
- “Every one of a kind”: According to Robert Passikoff, the president of Brand Keys Inc., consumers will want more and more custom and personal products, services and experiences. Their comfort with digital and mobile in all forms gives them a sense of empowerment, possibility and indeed entitlement to have things their way in 2015.
Why should you care about these trends? The reason is that all three ideas have been building momentum and are now being reinforced exponentially in the daily consumer experience. Here are some thoughts about what you can do in your marketing to be “trending now,” rather than completely stale:
Embrace your technology and let it show. Only a few firms talk about their technology to clients, other than to describe their website or portal. That’s not good when the clients are seeing incredible technological advances everywhere else. They may assume you are behind the times. Truth is, most advisors have some pretty powerful technology on their own or through the home office or custodians. Strut your stuff! Consider showing your clients your workstation or, better yet, build out some interactive tools you can use in the planning process.
Consider a brand stand. The advisor usually is the brand. I’ve done a lot of consulting with those who want to make themselves and their practices sound “corporate.” But that’s silly considering that big corporations are trying to sound like them! Instead, if you’re an advisor, consider the things that matter most to you. Can you align your practice with causes important to you, such as ending hunger or improving our schools and becoming a public advocate? Taking a stance can help you stand out from the crowd. You may even discover a network or segment of like-minded people who help you grow your practice.
Put an end to overly standardized communications. To make it “tailor made” for clients, consider revamping your communication tools and deliverables to speak more directly to them as human beings. Instead of a standard cover letter with their plan, write a recap of their hopes, dreams and worries and then organize the plan along those lines. You can create templates that allow far more personalization. Too many advisors rely on a staid investment newsletter and a highly predictable client presentation format that clients perceive as being cranked out by the dozen, not handmade. Your challenge is to make your interactions truly personalized and still scalable -- that’s the Holy Grail.
There’s no need for our industry to remain stuck in the past. Your clients and prospects are experiencing creative marketing in virtually every aspect of their lives, all day long. Without a fresh approach, we run the risk of being even further homogenized and commoditized in the financial services sector. In my opinion, this is an area where larger firms with resources and expertise have an advantage, but all advisors can keep an eye on consumer trends and make sure they are finding ways to remain relevant.