From the August 2006 issue of Investment Advisor • Subscribe!

Four Rules to Drive Home Your Message

What distinguishes highly successful advisors from less successful ones, regardless of their skills and industry knowledge?

The answer is their ability to communicate the true value of their service offerings to their key constituencies. This is achieved through well thought-out messages that effectively convey the significance of the role that you play in the lives of your clients.

In recent years, the role of an investment advisor has evolved from financial consultant to a financial confidant. Because of the increased responsibility of your advisory role, you must ensure that the messages you craft clearly demonstrate your unique skills, capabilities, and differentiating factors. It is imperative that these messages are consistent across all your marketing pieces, including your brochure, newsletter, Web site, and any collateral materials.

Strong, targeted, high-impact messages are essential to creating and projecting a positive image of your practice. To achieve this goal, you must employ clear, unambiguous language that is easily understood. The goal of these messages is to provide your clients with valuable information that engages, informs, and motivates them so that they seek your services when a triggering event takes place.

There are four basic elements to effective messaging:

Determine Your Target Audience. Your strategy should first revolve around identifying your key audience and delivering your message to them. Based on the size of your practice, this exercise could entail surveying your current client base, or could require conducting an analysis of your current and potential target markets. Once you have your audience profile, you need to define your services from the client's point of view.

Identify Your Core Message. Although you may come up with a long list of good reasons why an investor should select your practice, try to identify the most critical reason why he or she should choose it. You may find that the most compelling answer has little to do with your practice or abilities. Make sure that this becomes your primary message and back it up with a couple of support points that reiterate the value of your services.

Personalize Your Message. Make your messages resonate on a personal level, and make sure your core principles are reflected in all your collateral material and daily interactions with clients. Constantly communicating your fundamental beliefs throughout every facet of your business will enable you to create a positive impression within your target market.

Stay with the Message. Resist the temptation of changing your messages if immediate results are not achieved. Sticking with well-conceived messages is similar to sticking to an investment plan; the primary goal is to achieve long-term results. You must commit yourself to your messages and realize that in the long run, this is the key strategy that will enable you to build credibility and brand recognition for your practice.

Claudio Pannunzio is a public relations consultant with more than two decades of experience working with financial services firms and advisors. He can be reached at cpannunzio@gibbs-soell.com

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