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How 'Power Phrases' Make You Memorable to Prospects

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Though you might be fed up with hearing the slogan “15 minutes could save you 15% or more on car insurance,” you have to appreciate its effectiveness: Geico has used that elevator pitch for about 25 years.

Indeed, being exposed to it over and over again is, if you will, the method behind the madness.

Likewise, a financial advisor needs an elevator pitch that succinctly sums up their expertise and how they help clients. And they should be able to convey that pitch in a single sentence: a “power phrase.”

Those that fail to generate one will “get passed over for the person who can,” argues Leibel Sternbach, chief technology officer of Fusion Capital Management and founder of Yields4U.com, a financial advisory focused on retirement planning, in an interview with ThinkAdvisor.

An investment advisor representative at Fusion, Sternbach is the author of two new books, “Authenticity: Dominate the Market by Being Yourself” (April 2021) and “Living With Financial Anxiety” (May 2021), both published by Primedia E-launch. 

The elevator pitch, the certified National Social Security Advisor says in the interview, should inform all messages and advertising, especially retargeting ads. These follow folks around online, showing up nearly everywhere after they’ve clicked on a particular product or service.

“If you’re not doing [retargeting ads], your competition certainly is, and they’re the ones your prospects will see thousands of times.

“[When they’re ready to commit], chances are they’re going to go with the person who they’ve seen most often,” says Sternbach, who has coached more than 400 advisors. 

The chartered financial consultant also explains how cognitive dissonance — which causes confusion — kills sales and how writing a blog is the first step to developing an emotional relationship with prospects.

Consistency and repetition are the name of the game for reaching and attracting target prospects, and a concise elevator pitch is at the heart of that strategy, says Sternbach, who is an accredited portfolio management advisor.

Two marketing firms for advisors that he founded, Radical Printing and Radical Promoting, were acquired by Fusion, an RIA, in 2017.

ThinkAdvisor recently interviewed Sternbach, an enrolled agent with the IRS, who was on the phone from his Melville, New York, base.

He highlighted the importance of putting time and energy into only social media that attract the advisor’s target demographic.

That likely leaves Twitter out of the mix, according to Sternbach: “I have yet to meet an advisor who has found real success on Twitter,” he says.

Here are excerpts of our conversation: 

THINKADVISOR: It’s essential for financial advisors to have a 30- to 60-second elevator pitch, you write. Why do FAs need that?

LEIBEL STERNBACH: To communicate what they do, how they can help people and why they’re the expert at solving a particular problem. If you can’t do that in a quick, succinct manner, you’re going to get passed over for the person who can.

The more your prospects know with absolute clarity how you can help them, the more successful you’ll be.

When would an FA use the pitch?

It informs everything. It translates into their messaging and branding. Use it to inform all marketing, whether it’s a Facebook ad, a website banner ad or a mailer inviting people to, say, a Social Security event. 

If you don’t have your elevator pitch down, nothing will be in line.

Should it be something clever like an advertising headline rather than straightforward information?

You need to differentiate between a marketing ploy versus “This is what we do,” which is your recurring branding message. 

For instance, Geico uses “15 minutes could save you 15% or more on car insurance.” What they do and the value they provide is extremely clear. They may keep coming up with clever new marketing ploys, but the message at the end of the ad is always “15 minutes could save you 15% or more on car insurance.” 

You write about “power phrases.” What are they?

It’s your elevator pitch condensed into a single sentence [or catchphrase] 30 to 60 seconds long. It’s the punchline to your blog post, how you end your emails, and in every online ad you do. 

You should have two or three power phrases — the second one telling something almost as important as the first but not as critical.

It’s for people who have already been in your [marketing] funnel and are getting to know you. 

You rotate a third phrase throughout your messaging. This repetition is the way you communicate to prospects: Here’s what you do and how you help people. It’s where you show what your value is.

What’s an example of a good financial advisor power phrase?

We had a client whose five sons worked in his [family] business as advisors; his wife was the office manager. 

So he wanted his clients to know what differentiated him from the competition was that “when you walk into our office, you’re family and you’re working with family.” That’s a very powerful message. 

You don’t want to say, “We provide the best investment service.” No one really cares [about hearing that], but they do really care about being taken care of and being part of that family.

“Cognitive dissonance is the killer of sales,” you say. How do you avoid that problem?

Cognitive dissonance is when your mind is presented with two conflicting ideas that cannot be true at the same time. It leads to [prospects] not making a decision. 

It comes up when advisors say things that are incongruent. For example, you told the prospect you’re an expert on Social Security, but when they came in, all you’re taking about is investments. 

They think: “Is he a Social Security expert, or an investment guy?” You need to be extremely clear and consistent.

Being on Facebook is “a must for any business nowadays,” you write. How come?

No. 1, because it’s expected. Everybody expects a legitimate company to be on Facebook. And [it’s essential] for advisors, especially, because among social media, seniors are represented on Facebook more than any other [social networking service]. 

Whatever your demographic niche, you need to be where [those people] go.

Any other reason that being on Facebook is necessary for advisors?

For branding and for retargeting ads. Facebook gives you the ability to follow people around and have your ad show up on their news feeds, the right side of their desktop [and more].

And it allows you to get your image and message in front of prospects for literally pennies. 

If you’re not doing this, your competition is — and they’re the ones who your prospects are going to see thousands of times.

When they finally go, “I have to get my financial plan in place and get someone to take care of my investments,” chances are they’re going to go with the person who they’ve seen most often. 

What about being on Twitter?

Spending a lot of time on Twitter doesn’t pay off. I have yet to meet an advisor who has found real success on Twitter. 

You have to produce an insane amount of content and engage with others. It’s a very fast-moving platform: You’re no longer relevant two hours after you post something.

So if you’re going to post and just check on it a week later, it won’t do you any good. 

Also, the vast majority of advisors don’t have the niche that relates to the Twitter demographic, which, I think, is more the do-it-yourselfer type in their 30s and 40s.

Anyone under 35 isn’t on Twitter. They’re on TikTok, Instagram, Reddit, YouTube. 

Twitter doesn’t have [much of] the senior demographic [that FAs target]. Therefore, unless you’re a Twitter guy and your prospects are there, you’re going to waste a lot of time and effort or just look like someone who has a token Twitter presence. And that will piss off anyone who uses Twitter as their [main] social media platform.

You stress the importance of having an emotional relationship with the client. How do you get to that point?

You’re going to build the relationship and credibility through the content you write. 

Ideally, the way you first interact with your prospect is through a blog, podcast or YouTube video — some engaging piece of content they see in their feed that makes them go, “That looks interesting. And it pertains to me.” 

You need to give people the feeling that you’re an expert in whatever gets you out of bed every day: your passion. What you really care about needs to shine through.

You’re trying to help people understand why they should care about it and to give them the tool to solve for or understand it because it’s important to them, too.

Suppose someone is surfing the web for a financial advisor to help them and stops by an FA’s website. How significant is that when it comes to prospecting?

They’re going to read your website and then forget about it if they don’t call you right away. They may be an ideal prospect but just not ready to buy at that moment. 

That’s where retargeting ads [comes] in using Facebook and other services. Rather than letting these prospects disappear, retargeting ads keep you in front of them until they’re ready to make that decision to buy.

The ads allow you to track that person. They’ll show up wherever they’re browsing online. They’ll see your face everywhere and know you’re someone that can potentially help them. 

Any tips for advisors about hosting podcasts? More and more seem to be doing them these days.

I would recommend video over a podcast. If you have a podcast, record yourself doing it and convert it to a video. 

Video is extremely engaging on Facebook and on LinkedIn as well. 

That’s part of developing a relationship, too: People get to see you. They go, “I know this guy. This is a real person, not just a voice behind a picture.”

What’s involved in creating the video?

You don’t want to make it a high-end production. In fact, if you record it on your cellphone, great. It’s about being a regular person — like [the clients] in the community you’re building.

The ideal length is between four and seven minutes — no more than 10. It’s one quick idea. 

Make sure your closing relates back to your power phrases and brand messaging so that whatever you’re talking about relates to that bigger picture.

Any pointers for conducting interviews on podcasts and videos? 

Advisors should put themselves in the shoes of their prospects. Think: If a client they know well were here right now, what would he ask? Make it one or two questions and tie it back to your philosophy. 

“The real success in marketing is to be narrow-focused,” you write. Why is that key?

If you can narrow your focus and say, “I’m the best person for solving this problem; this is all I do,” then it’s easy for you to communicate that message to the public.

The more focused you can be, the more success you’ll have and the more you’ll be able to attract the right type of prospects and clients.

Pictured: Leibel Sternbach