News article

Why your feelings might damage your marketing

We returned last weekend from a wonderful few days in Scotland. On the 10-hour drive back from Skye we downloaded an audiobook to pass the time, choosing Ben Elton’s latest; Identity Crisis.

Checking that Aimee (6 ½) was safely plugged into her headphones (a Ben Elton book is bound to be ranty and sweary!) we set off.

What does this have to do with marketing I hear you ask?

Well, the book charts the progress of old-school Detective, Mick Matlock, as he hunts for a serial killer. Frustrated by his team’s wild theories, Matlock explains that he “gets frustrated when people use feelings to counter evidence.”

Somewhere south of Glasgow that line got me thinking as it applies equally to both fictional coppers and marketing.


Because making decisions based on feelings, despite evidence to the contrary, is hugely frustrating for us. More importantly though (unless you are particularly worried about our blood pressure) it means people who make the mistake are marketing their business with one hand tied behind their backs.

So, with apologies, if we also get a little ranty, here are some occasions when we’ve seen advisers and planners let feelings dictate their decision making:

1. “My clients aren’t on social media.”

Research shows that around 40 million people in the UK use social media. This includes 7.8 million Facebook users over the age of 55; a key target demographic for most firms. With such widespread usage, it’s likely that many, perhaps even most, of your clients will use social media.

To harness the power of social media (and disprove the hypotheses that your clients don’t use it once and for all) it’s vital you understand which channels they use regularly. The best way to find out? Ask them in a survey, then connect, engage and share content with them.

2. “I’m not bothering with testimonials, no one believes them.”

That might well be true for you and for a minority of others, but there’s plenty of research to demonstrate a link between positive social proof and buying habits.

However, (and this is the important bit) they must focus on outcomes while being as authentic and detailed as possible. There’s a hierarchy of social proof too:

  • Long and attributable, beat short and anonymous testimonials
  • Case studies, showing your client’s name, location and image beat testimonials
  • Client videos beat case studies.

You might not believe testimonials, but others will. Not using them or other forms of social proof will make it harder to generate new enquiries and reduce ‘buy-in’ from those who do get in touch.

3. “My clients won’t give me a testimonial / let me use their picture / appear on a video*”

*delete as appropriate

Perhaps it’s the thought of asking clients or simply that they themselves wouldn’t appear on camera. But, when we suggest any of the above to some advisers and planners the room often chills, arms are crossed, and brows become furrowed.

In our experience, the reality is very different.

Sure, the thought of appearing on video will be enough to send some of your clients running for the hills. However, others will readily agree. Many of your clients are emotionally engaged in your business. They want you to succeed and are happy to help.

Build a shortlist of potential candidates, pitch the idea to them, and see what they say. You might be surprised. Indeed, one firm we work with had so many agree to appear they couldn’t fit them in and now have a list of clients willing to be involved in the next shoot.

4. “I like this website.”

We love it when clients genuinely engage in the design process. However, the natural inclination for many advisers and planners during the process is to reference sites they like, when they should search for sites they believe are effective.

It’s a subtle yet vital distinction.

And it’s only half the story. It’s impossible to understand how a website performs without reviewing the Google Analytics data and a firm’s lead flow. Without those two, every conclusion about a website is simply the best guess.

5. “My clients won’t read newsletters.”

Evidence shows that some client newsletters (oh okay, the ones we send) regularly have open rates in excess of 70%. If you produce (or outsource, hint hint) interesting, relevant and useful content, people will read it.

Again, follow the evidence. Start producing content and sending newsletters. Then make decisions based on results. If clients open, read and engage; great. If not, tweak, amend and change until they do, or you prove the original hypothesis that your clients really aren’t interested.

6. “My clients want printed newsletters.”

Rarely do the majority of a firm’s clients want a printed newsletter. In fact, the evidence from our client surveys shows that most want electronic newsletters. Hardly surprising when we consider that in 2017 90% of UK households had access to the internet, with email being the most popular activity.

Electronic newsletters have many benefits. For the recipient, they can be read at a time convenient to them and are more environmentally friendly. For the sender, it’s more cost effective, easier to produce and trackable.

7. “The returns from adviser directories aren’t worth it.”

It’s true that none of the main adviser directories are perfect. However, clients we speak to suggest that they receive initial fees of 10 times the money paid to the directories.

That’s a significant return on investment, especially when we consider it excludes ongoing fees. It’s also a persuasive argument that despite their problems, advisers and planners should take a pragmatic approach and include directories as part of their marketing strategy.

8. “People aren’t interested in reading about me on our website.”

Yes, they are.

Our research shows that pages about the adviser, planner and their team are among the most popular.

Over the years of working with a client you will form a tight emotional bond, that process often starts online, before you physically meet. It’s not surprising that potential clients want to know more about who will be advising them.

Making better decisions

“Evidence led” is one of the phrases which seems to polarise our profession. But we make no apologies for using it.

We’ve seen too many people make marketing decisions based on feelings, not evidence. Sure, if you have a gut feeling about something, test it, see if it works. But, don’t dismiss what should be key elements of your marketing strategy just because you “don’t think it will work”.

Follow the evidence, your marketing will be more successful for it.

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