Stop Winging it and Convert More Referrals with a Strategic Narrative
You wouldn’t take on a new client without understanding their financial situation; you wouldn’t recommend an investment without doing your due diligence; and you definitely wouldn’t build a portfolio without understanding underlying risks. Everything you do requires a certain level of preparation and planning, and so does how you tell your story.
Believe it or not, most financial advisors wing it when it comes to telling their story. That’s because they are good at it. If you are like most successful advisors, you have a natural talent for communicating to others.
But how about at scale?
How about when your team and your clients tell your story? Not to mention everywhere else your brand can be experienced through the simple act of a Google search.
What you need is a strategic narrative. It lets you consistently communicate complexity in a clear and simple fashion. It is how you can create a unique story that will guide every business activity. This narrative, when properly implemented, projects the future of your clients and differentiates your brand from your competitors.
It all Begins by Framing Your Narrative
Think of creating your narrative framework the same way you would think about performing research, crafting an investment policy or building a financial plan. You certainly wouldn’t think about winging any of these activities, would you?
Traditionally, a narrative structure or “framework” comes in a variety of forms and is the foundation of every great story, play, movie, and television show you have ever experienced. So doesn’t it make sense that you could follow the same process that created blockbuster movies like Star Wars and Toy Story to tell your story and build your brand?
Using the different forms of narrative structure, I created the 7P Framework adapted specifically for financial advisors. Now you can create content everywhere your brand is experienced by the people you seek to serve—from your blog to your website, LinkedIn posts and beyond. Use the 7P Framework and start by brainstorming with your team in each of the 7 frames below.
The protagonist is the hero in a story, and the hero in your brand’s story is your client. Too often, advisors deliver an egocentric message (‘us’, ‘our’) about who they are and what they do. Instead, make sure your message is client-centric (‘you’, ‘your’) to define who your ideal client is and what they want. Websites like READABLE and CCSCORE will actually give you a client-centric score by comparing the number of times you use ‘us’, ‘our‘ vs. ‘you’, ‘your‘.
What is the promise your brand keeps? This should speak to your ideal client’s aspirational identity–their greatest hopes and dreams. We are always comparing our story with others and when people see their story in your promise, they’ll want to be your client.
What’s preventing your ideal client from getting what they want in life–time, confidence, knowledge? How will they solve their problem and get what they want by working with your firm? When we experience a problem, we experience it externally, like during an extreme market event; internally, like how it makes us feel emotionally; and philosophically, like when we believe that in this day and age, things should not be so. Remember, when it comes to talking about problems, a little goes a long way. And sometimes it can be as little as a small change around the corner on the horizon.
This is where you get to talk about what you do for your clients. Your solution. How does it work? What are the features and benefits? At the end of the day, financial advisors deliver results, and your results come in the form of the experience people have when they become your client.
What’s the evidence that proves what you do works? Here it’s all about demonstrating your authority in terms of years of experience, education, credentials, and stories across a body of work, like in a blog, articles, and interviews.
What is your process and how does it become your clients’ plan? How about the steps people take to learn about you and become your client? And most of all, don’t forget to make the call-to-action compelling like, “Yes! I want to keep growing!”
At the end of every great story there is a moment where the hero avoids failure and achieves success and, in doing so, projects a vision of a better future. What is the better future your brand projects for the people you serve? Describe the future in all its glory to inspire and encourage the hero in your brand story to keep going.
Once you’ve answered the seven questions above, you have the framework you need the create your strategic narrative. Think of it as your value proposition wrapped up in brief paragraph. Here’s an example. All you need to do is insert the appropriate elements from your narrative framework:
At [your company] we know [the protagonist] wants [your promise]. Unfortunately, [the problem] is…
This is why [your product] delivers [your process]. So [the plan] and stop [the problem] and start [project future success].
Now it’s your turn…
Give it a try. A strategic narrative is especially great for wireframing any website or building a client presentation. You can simply follow the order above from 1-7 or mix them up. Here’s our website. See if you recognize the framework.
And let’s not forget the all-essential elevator pitch. It goes from problem to product solution and ends with what your clients want.
Most financial firms [the problem]. At [your company] we [product solution],. so you can [what your client wants].
So, if you’re an advisor who’s good at winging it, try creating a strategic narrative using the 7P Framework with your team. Because you never know who’s experiencing your brand when you’re not around.
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