As one financial planner said a few months ago we: “bang on about social proof all the time.”
I took that as a huge compliment because we do and it’s an important subject.
For reasons we’ll explain later in this blog, the online world is increasingly noisy. That means advisers and planners who want to grow their business must differentiate themselves from others and demonstrate the benefits of financial planning. There’s no better way of doing that than by clients telling their stories.
As anyone at Humans Under Management saw this week, we’ve developed the ‘Podium of Proof’ (cheesy I know, but hey, we work in marketing) to help explain the different types of social proof.
The bronze step: Testimonials
Anonymous testimonials on a single page of your website are frankly dead as a form of social proof. No one looks at them (1 – 2 people in every 100 visitors will bother to visit the page) and those who do rarely get any value from them.
The silver step: Case studies
Done well, case studies are far preferable to testimonials. Ideally, they should be 500 words or so in length and based on an interview with your clients. They should explain:
- The pain points the client was experiencing
- What you did (in broad terms)
- Most importantly, how you made them feel and how their life changed after working with you
For that reason, clients you’ve recently started to work with or who have experienced a big life event which you help them to navigate, often make the best case studies. This also applies to…
The gold step: Client videos
Your clients telling their story on video is the most effective form of social proof.
Why? Three reasons:
1. They differentiate you from other firms
Our research shows that only a tiny proportion of firms have client videos on their website.
We analysed the sites of all the firms in the New Model Adviser Top 100, only 9% had client videos. During my presentation at Humans Under Management yesterday I asked the audience the same question and we got a similar result.
Adding client stories to your website and using them in your wider marketing is a great differentiator and a key reason to use them.
2. They show how planning changes lives
We know financial planning changes lives. That’s why we work so hard to connect as many advisers and planners to consumers as possible.
You’ll be able to think of clients whose life you have changed. You might have given them the confidence to retire, spend more money in retirement, give money away. Whatever it is, financial planning changes lives.
Who’s best placed to explain that; you or your clients? I think you know the answer!
3. They provide third party endorsement
The mere fact that your clients are prepared to appear on camera is an endorsement of your work in itself. When they go on to explain the benefits of working with you, that level of advocacy rises to a point where it can’t help but impress others.
Cutting through the noise
Differentiating yourself online is hugely important.
Whether people who’ve become aware of your brand take action and make contact with you depends on the results of a Google search. If you can be found easily, impress and show how you’re different, the chances of the person making contact rises significantly.
There are several ways to stand out from the crowd:
- High-level social proof, such as the results of client surveys, VouchedFor reviews etc
- Qualifications & accreditations
- Explaining your specialisms
- Demonstrating the benefits of independence
- Publishing your charges
- Promoting your charity and community work
- Winning and then promoting awards
- Receiving coverage in the press
All the above are important but the best differentiator will always be social proof and the gold standard are client videos.
If you want to join the 9% we’d be very happy to chat about running a client stories project for you in the new year; drop us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0115 8965 300.
If you want to take the DIY approach, here are a couple of free resources to help you do just that: