In the 1980s I realized that professional credibility determined if a person or firm would be successful. Credibility relies on communication, and that means: 1) writing content that is relevant to your target market; and 2) using words/phrases they relate to.
A few years ago, I started noticing the term "content marketing" and thought, "What's the big deal? We've been doing that for 20 years!"
Stop Reading! Today's content is judged by a very different standard. That's because (in a business context) people no longer read. They skim. If your content cannot be skimmed, it most likely won't reach the target. Additionally, a world of other content is just a click away.
- You need quality content to attract your target market.
- You need new content to keep people coming back to your site.
- You need to format the content for easy skimming.
- You need to edit to add active verbs.
- You need to imbed the target's values.
- You need to identify points of relevance before starting.
If you can't do that, you need to get help.
For example… In the financial industry, the sellers always want to sell a product. "Do you have LTC coverage?" That's insane. The target market doesn't care about the products. They have concerns or problems. If the firms can't talk to the target about those concerns and problems, they're demonstrating irrelevance. When you talk about products, you're essentially approaching the world backwards.
Turn that around. All the company has to do is re-frame the content and approach it from the target's perspective. Then, follow the other points in that list above.
- Mike Lovas
For the past twenty years, I've been researching how to use psychology in marketing for financial advisors. The most important marketing tool today is your website. I say that for three reasons:
- That is where most people go to check you out and determine if they want to contact you.
- That's where you can show them your professionalism and humanity.
- It's safe for visitors. They don't have to worry about getting a sales pitch.
The point is, if you do not already have a dynamic and psychologically-effective website, your business is going to suffer.
I've already written several articles on how to capture people's attention on your home page. So, today, we're going to look at how to get people to keep coming back to your site. The more often they return, the higher your chances of getting a new client. Here are some guidelines:
- People do not return to see the same stuff. Meaning, if you don't up-date your content on a regular (weekly) basis, why would anyone go back there? Most sites have a little line near the bottom of the page that says, "Last updated" and the date. You would be amazed at how many financial sites have not been updated in years – or, at all, ever.
- People do not place value in duplication. Meaning, they don't want to see a site that is a duplicate of other sites, with the same tools, same calculators, and same generic content. If you have not toured other advisor sites, you owe it to your firm to do so. What you'll see is that nearly every one is basically the same. If you follow that model, you'll be showing that you have nothing fresh to provide.
- People look for relevant information. What's relevant to them? Well, it's not your products. It's solutions to their problems. Meaning, they don't go to your website when everything is going great. They go when they have a question or puzzle that needs to be solved. You can probably name of six to ten topics most of your clients ask you about: retirement income, taxes, long term care, estate planning, investing, etc. In other words, you need to provide them with guidance in those topics. The guidance cannot be generic! People see through the generic for what it is.
Advice. If you do not already have a blog on your website. Get one. Start writing blog comments. They should be only about 100 words long. Each one should focus on one aspect of those topics above. Start by explaining what the problem is, then begin to solve the problem. Do not offer investment advice or name specific products. Simply explain the steps that consumers can take on their own to start to solve their problem. In this way, you become a resource.
For example, one of the blogs I recently wrote for a client explains estate planning in consumer-friendly language. I explained what it is and why a middle-class consumer might need to get one. Another focused on long term care and women. Others look at elder fraud, social security maximization, and what to do if you don't have enough money to retire. The point is, make your content relevant to the people you want to do business with.
SIDEBAR: After reviewing hundreds of financial sites, I can safely say that most are absolutely terrible. Amazingly, nearly every one of them makes the same mistakes. In September, my good friends at Advisor's Assistant asked me to deliver a webinar on "Little Disasters – the accidental blunders that keep people from trusting your website." In the program, I showed about two dozen financial web pages. All but two or three of those pages chased people away and made the same mistakes. They were examples of what NOT to do in a website.
If you want help with your website, just give us a call: 509.465.5599.
Who in his right mind launches a website knowing it will annoy visitors? Professionals and organizations always believe the world is chomping at the bit in anticipation of their website. They seem not to know when something on the site is annoying.
We use 44 points in our "Psycho-Social Marketing Analysis." One of the points deals with videos. Beware…
In the sites we've analyzed one of the truly most annoying elements is the video that automatically launches. This might be interesting to first-time visitors, but don't you want people to keep coming back? So, everyone who returns to your site is forced to deal with that same video. Trust me, they quickly learn to loath it.
There is another amazingly annoying aspect of website videos – the ones that take too long to load. How long is too long? About one second, or the point that the3 visitor aborts. There is some recent research on this topic. I'm quoting from Jakob Nielsen's "Alerbox." And, as you can see, I've included a couple of links:
Professor Ramesh Sitaraman analyzed 23 million cases of users trying to watch online videos and calculated the bounce rate depending on the delay in having the video start playing.
The main finding is that 6% more users abandon the video for every 1 second extra delay.
Does your site annoy your target market? Give us a call, and we'll help you figure it out.
The key to getting outside the box is to read articles that have nothing to do with your business.
Here’s an example. I have a subscription to a neuroscience magazine. One of the headlines referred to an “invisibility cloak.” That absolutely nothing to do with my business. But, it was so intriguing that it sparked a flood of ideas. So, one of my next articles will address how sales people become invisible.
Do you know how?
Most rational people eliminate adjectives from their presentations. The guideline is: "less is more." However, recent research throws salt on that.
The research was conducted at Purdue University and discovered that sensory language is far more effective at engaging the reader. They compared the writing of popular authors from older times and modern times. Same result: the researchers conclude that adjectives that are sensory in nature are more impactful and memorable.
Picture yourself talking to a small audience. That could be anywhere from three people to a hundred. As you deliver your words of wisdom, you see someone's head lean back and the person's mouth form the word, "Oh." Bing! That person "got it." You now have an "Oh" Rating of one.
Teachers look for those lights to go on in their students' faces. But, professionals who deliver group presentations are often ambivalent or unaware of the "Oh" experience in their audiences. If you can't recall seeing the Oh face in your audiences, you could be batting zero. Meaning, you might be reaching zero people.
If you do not know how to structure your information so people can easily understand the points and catalog them in their minds, you are most likely confusing your audience, rather than teaching them. Confusion means death to the Oh.
Want to know how to eliminate the confusion, just ask.
Smart web designs follow human perception rules. The most notable of these design hueristics are referred to as "gestalt rules for human perception". These rules describe how we see and experience different perceptual phenomena in the world around us. According to Gestalt psychology, the whole is different than the sum of its parts. Based upon this belief, Gestalt psychologists developed a set of principles to explain perceptual organization, or how smaller objects are grouped to form larger ones. These principles are often referred to as the "laws of perceptual organization."
Here are several great resources with illustrations of applying gestalt principles in web design:
Andy Rutledge does a fabulous job in his 5 Part series Gestalt Principles of Perception
Michael Tuck in Gestalt Principles Applied in Design has some of the same items mentioned by Andy Rutledge but quite a few new ones as well.
Kevin Matz in The Gestalt Laws of Perception and how to use them in UI design, also provides some easy to follow illustrations.
Dr. Pamela Rutledge looks at Gestalt Principles and other psychological elements in web design.
Little known fact: many professionals have trouble identifying the essential elements of their marketing/sales message. So, we developed the "Whats It Sheet" to help them. Want a copy? Here it is:
It's a simple 2-page PDF that will help you get started in your effort to improve your marketing. Once you have these facts organized, we'll apply our "44-Point Message Guide," to make sure your message is on target.