Signal management

You have your niche. But how is the messaging?

I was recently speaking to top advisor Zachary Ashburn about raising brand awareness with his niche audience. Specifically, he wants to help established executives who leave their jobs but aren’t ready to retire. He can help them start a consulting business, work with a CPA, and bridge the gap until retirement on their terms.

There is only one problem. None of this was apparent from its website. He said all the right things about quitting and starting a temp company, but he used words like “side hustle” or “day job.” While these words are technically accurate, they are more commonly used by 20s and 30s than by established executives.

Changing the wording slightly made a big difference. Now his tagline is simpler: Your career doesn’t have to end when you quit your job. And once we nailed that tagline, ideas for how he could grow that niche started pouring in. (Two prospects have contacted Ashburn in the week since he updated his language; both are more aligned with his niche.)

Changing your wording can help you win customers.

You may be making a similar mistake with your email. Consider the phrase “financial independence”. We like this term in the industry because it sounds like a more holistic reflection of the work advisors do than retirement planning.

There’s only one problem: in the real world, very few people use the term “financial independence.” It barely registers against retirement in Google search data.

This means that if your website is all about financial independence, prospects may not know what you’re talking about. Worse still, someone looking for an advisor might miss your site.

Let me be clear on one thing: I’m not suggesting that you give up on terms like financial independence, especially if they’re core to how you do business. What I suggest is that you define these terms using familiar words. You don’t want to miss an opportunity to work with someone because your message gets lost in translation.

Learn the lingo of your customers. (It’s easier said than done.)

You know your customers better than most service providers. But you probably pay more attention to what your customers say than how they say it. At some point, our brain begins to zoom in on word choice to access the basic meaning; listening to vocabulary is a different, much more active skill set.

It’s not easy either. I’ve worked with words throughout my 13+ year career, largely developing messages where word choice is key. And with my own business, it took me two years to realize that words beloved by marketers fell flat with advisors. (Model: bad match. Draft copy: better match.)

The good news is that you don’t need to become an expert in active listening right away, because I’ll give you a shortcut: ask your clients.

Tap into your best resource: Survey your customers.

Customer surveys are one of the most underused tools. And for advisors, customer surveys offer a high return on investment.

  • People feel important when you ask them for their opinion. This is especially true if you do things the right way. Consider something like, “You are one of my favorite customers, so I want to find more customers like you. Can you help me do this by answering a quick survey? »
  • It’s an easy way to collect useful data. You can ask about word choice and messaging, but you can also ask about overall customer satisfaction. It can help you prioritize your time and grow your business more strategically.
  • Who doesn’t like quantitative data? These surveys can help you quantify the intangibles, those things you instinctively know from working with your clients but may have trouble putting into words.
  • Set the stage for testimonials. You should definitely speak to your compliance team or a compliance consultant before embarking on anything that involves testimonials, but if you plan to introduce reviews or case studies in the future, this exercise can help you. to help. It gives you insight into what people may be saying and helps you identify which clients you want to feature.
  • Say what it takes in a bear market. Investigations can and should go beyond lingering questions. You should also ask about current events to quantify what interests customers in their words. Are they talking about buying power or are they just complaining that things are getting more expensive?

How to create an effective customer survey:

Here are my favorite tips on creating an engaging and useful customer survey from market research consultant Margaret Hoffecker:

  1. Start with simple, general questions. Think about yes/no answers. When surveys begin with filling in blank or free-form responses, it sends a subconscious signal that this survey is going to take some effort, and that may just be enough to make your client give up. Starting with simple questions can also help your customers adapt. Also, try to include your questions that you need to answer near the top, in case customers don’t finish.
  2. Multiple choice can help you collect useful data. There will be some questions where you want customers to fill in information, but in general providing prompts can help you collect more actionable data as you may notice themes and spot trends that can get lost with the format. free. answers. You’ll also learn a lot if the prompts you offer don’t match your customers’ responses. (If you ask, “What do you find most valuable about working with us?” and your clients answer “other,” that’s something to pay attention to.)
  3. Add free-form questions. Give people a chance to explain their answer as a follow-up to multiple-choice questions. You can learn a lot of useful and qualitative information this way. Plus, the variety of your question formats keeps respondents actively engaged.
  4. Give customers the option to remain anonymous. Ask your customers for their name at the end of the survey and explain why (for example, so that we can follow up with you on ways to improve, or possibly feature your feedback on our site); chances are they will say yes.

Use polls to improve your tagline.

Finally, I want to make it easier for you to create an email survey. So back to the adviser I mentioned at the beginning of this article. He could ask customers:

  • Which of these words or phrases do you use the most when talking about your work?
  • What did you google when you thought about quitting your job?
    • How to Quit a Job Successfully
    • Can I take early retirement
    • Creation of a consulting business
    • Should I quit my job
    • Other ______________________________________________

Exactly how things will be formatted will depend on the software you use, and there are plenty of software to choose from. Many platforms offer basic survey templates for free and only start charging you if you create an if/then more complicated structure for your quizzes. At this point, you probably don’t need to be so fancy unless you want to.

Finally, don’t make polls a one-time thing. Divide your customers in half and survey half in summer and half in winter; this way you don’t bombard any group, but keep track of what your customers think in a simple and scalable way. Additionally, qualitative responses can help you change the way you interact with customers and prospects, which can help you attract new business more organically.

Shawna Ohm is the founder of Content 151.