Voices

Do’s and don'ts of marketing financial planning

Clients’ financial planning needs are changing. With 82 million U.S. retirees expected by 2040, an estimated $15 trillion in wealth transfer over the next 15 years, and rampant mistrust in the financial services industry, clients are looking for objective, trusted insights from their CPAs.

As their trusted accountant, you might be stepping up to the opportunity by offering new services.

But you have no plans to push services on to your clients. You don’t want to come across as a salesman. You want to be subtle.

Talking about new financial planning or advisory services starts with fresh, authentic messaging. This messaging needs to reflect not only your services but why you are the professional of choice for them.

Steps to creating meaningful messaging

A hefty marketing plan or re-branding campaign is not necessary when rolling out new services. Connecting with clients on your new business is as simple as creating a meaningful message on what your firm is all about.

When messaging new services, tactical do's and don’ts roll up into the the following overall messaging strategy:

1. Understand their needs, in their words. This starts with letting your clients share their life. You seek to understand their needs, in their words. Have a casual conversation with your client; listening is your only job. Collate your clients’ needs to develop your message in their words.
2. Draw a link between your current and new offerings. Expanding your services is most likely a natural fit with your accounting practice. Your messaging should seamlessly link your current and new offerings. For example, as a CPA who specializes in family tax planning, you also proudly offer support for elder financial planning.
3. Focus on clarity.

  • You do what?
  • For who?
  • By what means?
  • What value does this add?

Your message is on your website, your social media profiles, your marketing material, and, most importantly, you and your associates speak your message as one voice. It is the tone of your practice. Your new services must fit into this message without causing a glitch.

Your high ethical standards, rigorous training, and ongoing education make you a trusted advisor in your client’s eyes. By crafting an authentic message, you maintain this refined image.

Follow these simple do's and don’ts to keep your message on the straight and narrow.

Do’s

1. Do “reflective listening.” Start with understanding their “why.” Tax reform has created an opportunity to open a dialogue on their finances, life milestones, or their business.
Practice reflective listening. Reflective listening is a way to avoid providing judgment, your point of view, or even paraphrasing their ideas. This communication strategy is seeking to understand the speaker’s need and offering the need back to ensure it was understood.

This is the farthest thing from asking a prospect or client to fill out a questionnaire. This practice in empathy will enable you to identify the services best suited for their needs.

2. Do speak their language. Would your grandma understand your services?

Personal financial planning is ripe with jargon. You may perform wealth management, private client services or tax planning, but your clients call these financial planning. Listen to what your clients call the services you offer and speak their language in your messaging.

3. Do stay top of mind. Expanding your services is a long game. When a life event happens, be top of mind for your client. Do this by consistently engaging with relevant content.

Talk to your clients through a monthly newsletter, sharing articles with your personal take on the material, or sharing your own articles. Don’t wait for your yearly face-to-face meeting to share your ideas and be relevant in their lives.

Not only does sharing content keep you top of mind, but it also builds your authority. A perfect way to prove your expertise in your expanded services.

4. Do focus on the outcomes. How will your clients feel when these services are completed? Through listening, identify common obstacles and concerns so you can address them in your messaging.

Your services add value by removing stress, uncertainty, or obstacles to their ambitions. They can sleep better at night knowing their finances and taxes are in good hands.

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Don’ts

1. Don’t talk about your services as separate line items. Roll your new services into your existing packages. Your website, marketing materials and messaging should reflect a holistic approach to client care.

Present a unified experience as all your services are under one roof. While associates within your firm may provide specialized services, your clients will experience an integrated, holistic approach to their money.

2. Don’t hide your unique services. Don’t bury the lead. Your new services differentiate you.

Your messaging should showcase your expanded services. Make sure your messaging, website, and newsletter put a spotlight on your new services to differentiate you from the herd.

3. Don’t discuss competitors. You offer services no one else does or no one does as well as you. You have built trust and a relationship with your clients through consistent, authoritative content. There is no need to bring up competitors. Your messaging gets muddied when you talk about others.

Relax!

Expanding your services can be scary. Will this be profitable? Is this too specialized? Will this alienate my client base? These risks wash away once you listen to your clients and you take the time to make your messaging speak directly to their needs.

With your message in hand, you can relax. Your services and expertise will speak volumes. The art of being subtle starts with you being you. Start crafting your new messaging today.