Financial advisors can charm prospects and draw them in by unleashing an arsenal of “Weapons of Mass Attraction,” says Ken Schmidt, Harley-Davidson’s former communications director, in an interview with ThinkAdvisor. He played a key role in revivifying the motorcycle maker when it was all but given up for dead.
In his new book, “Make Some Noise: The Unconventional Road to Dominance” (Simon and Schuster — November 2018), Schmidt reveals his approach to defeating the competition by becoming a “dominator” instead of being an “also-ran.” This starts with morphing yourself into a veritable people magnet.
Schmidt is a frequent speaker at financial industry events, and his clients include Citigroup, Merrill Lynch, UBS and Wells Fargo.
In the interview, he explains how FAs can generate buzz — noise — about themselves by putting in play the “Weapons of Mass Attraction” technique. He discusses five components, the first of which includes being super-enthusiastic and giving prospects and clients “a rush of joy.” This differentiator will make them spread the word about what a terrific person you are, he argues.
The increasingly commoditized world of advisors prompts Schmidt to stress a few “don’ts” too: Don’t push product. He has lots to stay about that one. Don’t wait for your firm to lift you up because financial companies’ advertising falls flat with consumers. Don’t imitate what other FAs say and do. Monkey-see, monkey-do proves fruitless.
ThinkAdvisor recently interviewed the marketing expert, on the phone from his office near Washington, D.C. Energetic, enthusiastic and engaging, he demonstrated a knack for practicing what he preaches.
Here are highlights from our conversation:
THINKADVISOR: How does your advice to “make some noise” apply to financial advisors?
KEN SCHMDIT: Making noise is what you want people to say about you. You want them not to say you’re “a good advisor” but that you’re an awesome human being. You want to be described as super-friendly. That’s the kind of behavior you need to exhibit in front of the client or prospect to get them to remember you and see it as a point of difference from other advisors.
The reality is that financial advisors are becoming commodities. So how can they differentiate themselves?
Much of the responsibility and, ultimately, the opportunity lies with the individual advisor rather than with their firms. There seems to be a growing sense among financial planners that they’re waiting for someone to push a magic button that makes everything easier for the advisor on the street meeting with clients. That’s utter craziness.
People aren’t going to [beat] your doors [down] and come running in to buy whatever you’re selling. They need to know who you are and to like you more than the people you’re competing against.
How do you encourage them to like you more?
You grow your business because the people you serve are delighted to the point of saying great things about you — and by proxy, your firm — rather than the other way around when you’re waiting for the firm to lift you up. Their ads are all over TV and on the web but are a mishmash of everybody saying the same stuff.
You conduct presentations to firms about “Weapons of Mass Attraction.” What are the “weapons”?
First of all, we need to be more magnetically attractive — not George Clooney-attractive — but exhibiting behaviors that pull people in versus those that repel people.
What’s one magnetic behavior?
Visible passion — the magic elixir of everything. In the presence of the physically passionate, super-enthusiastic, joy-emitting person, 100% of humanity leans forward. If they’re genuine, people think: “I want some of that too.” If the [advisor] is clearly enjoying the opportunity to be there, [the prospect will] remember them and be way more inclined to sign on the line. It’s not about which [product] you buy; it’s who you buy it from. And people buy from you — not from the company you represent.
Why is visible passion so powerful?
It makes people feel very comfortable. If the client sees that you’re reacting very warmly to what you’re saying and lighting up pretty much every time they ask a question, it means you’re listening to them, especially if you’re [taking notes] too. People like that and feel you’re making a visible effort to connect with them. The money is in the reaction.
What do you mean?
When you react to what the client is telling you with passion and enthusiasm, it humanizes you and also humanizes the company you work for and [in turn] the financial services industry. So they’ll continue to talk to you. If you just nod or press a few buttons on your calculator, it dehumanizes the situation.
What’s another “Weapon of Mass Attraction”?
We have to break the cycle of pushing and glorifying product. It has to stop because of the huge transfer of wealth that’s coming to the next generation. You think it’s hard to sell a product now? Wait 15 or 20 years when everybody is Amazoned to death and everything is available at the push of a button. If all you’re doing is pushing product, as an advisor, you’re going to be redundant — unnecessary.
What’s one more “weapon”?