Republican pollster and business consultant Frank Luntz has some tips for how financial advisors should communicate to current and prospective clients.

At this week’s Inside ETFs conference in Hollywood, Florida, Luntz presented his recommendations, which he has tested in his own polling research. They stress the need for advisors to use language that relates to their clients, not to themselves or their own needs.

Choose the right words, avoid the wrong ones

You might say, “You’ve worked hard for your money. Now it’s time for your money to work for you.” Don’t say something like, ”When it’s time to prepare for a better tomorrow, you can count on us.”

That focuses too much on the advisor, not the client, said Luntz. 

Don’t use the word “product”

“It means ‘sales’ to the average investor,” said Luntz. Talk instead about how your client deserves security and independence in retirement.

Clients want your services, not your products, said Luntz. “Nothing matters more than being well-served.”

Focus on your clients’ peace of mind

That is what people want in their lives and in their investments, said Luntz. Say something like “The markets can be unpredictable but your retirement planning doesn’t have to be.” That communicates to the investor that he or she is in charge, said Luntz.

If you can give people peace of mind it will make a difference for you,” said Luntz. Use proven investment strategies that can deliver that peace of mind when markets are good or bad.

When you meet with clients anywhere but Silicon Valley, wear a suit and tie, said Luntz. “It communicates trust,” the “attribute that matters most” for clients.

Understand the differences between men and women and between generations

Guys want more money, women more time, while older people want no worries and younger people better lifestyle and work-life balance, said Luntz. “Don’t talk to a 68-year-old woman the way you’d talk to a 38-year-old man,” said Luntz.

Though Luntz generalized about the differences between the sexes and demographic groups — which may not be accurate for individual clients — he also said advisors need to “personalize” their approach to cater to each individual client. “Be specific, not generic.”

Focus on the long term and the life that clients want, not the short term

“Even clients age 75 want a long-term focus, said Luntz. In addition, “It’s not about the money or the stuff. It’s about how they make the client feel, to live the life they want.”

Ask these key questions

At some point when meeting a prospective client, an advisor should ask that person to imagine their life in perfection and then follow up with Where would you be? Who are you with? And, What are you doing?

“That’s how you learn about them,” said Luntz. “It’s not the very first question but as you keep asking you’ll learn what works for them.”

Add visuals

Don’t use just words to communicate with current and prospective clients, use visuals as well, said Luntz, who showed several pictures of adults with other adults or with children. 

The best one, said Luntz: a husband and wife standing and smiling in a nondescript outdoor location, holding hands. He cautioned against using obvious stock footage.

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