Most financial advisors are familiar with the concept of creating an “ideal client profile” used to identify the type of prospects they want to target. However, that may not go far enough to attract and directly engage with digitally savvy high net-worth investors in the digital age. Emerging-affluent millennials, in particular, are cautious about who they engage with if they can’t see what’s in it for them.
In a digitally wired world, financial advisors need to be able to identify with their target market and communicate in a way they can identify with you. That requires taking the ideal client profile to the next level by digging deeper into who they are, what they do, how they think and communicate, and why they might want to engage with someone like you.
What is a Client Persona?
According to Hootsuite, a client persona is a “detailed description of someone who represents your target audience.” However, it differs from an ideal client profile in that it is created from the ideal client’s perspective rather than the advisor’s perspective. When developing a client persona, you are taking a deeper dive into identifying specific qualities and traits as well as the factors that might influence their decision-making. When done right, a client persona forms the framework that guides your messaging and approach when trying to attract and engage your prospects. Some advisors develop multiple client personas profiling the different client types they are targeting.
Creating a Client Persona
In developing a client persona, you are essentially creating a fictional character that comes alive when you apply all data and insights you have about that client type. It should include demographic and financial data along with your insights on the challenges, goals, preferences, and motivations they share. It takes some time and legwork to gather this information on your ideal client-type, but it is well worth the effort.
Follow these five steps to create a client persona:
#1. Target specific groups or niches
If you are targeting high net worth individuals, you may want to narrow your scope to zero in on a more specific persona. For example, within the high net worth market, you could narrow your focus to professionals, executives, or business owners, or some combination of the three, creating a persona for each one.
#2. Data mine your client files
You can find much of the demographic and financial data for your personas in your client files. Create a spreadsheet to model your data based on specific data, such as job titles, specialties, age, gender, family status, education, income, net worth, and asset types. If you’re targeting business owners, you need to include information about the business, such as industry, revenue, business structure, and customer base.
#3. Interview your clients
Your clients are your best source of actionable information, such as concerns, challenges, and other deeper insights. Let them know you need their help to create a client persona to be used in your marketing and client interactions. Conduct a client interview in a comfortable setting.
Here is a list of possible questions to include:
- What are your most important personal goals? Why are they so important to you?
- What are your career or business goals?
- What are your challenges in achieving your goals?
- What keeps you awake at night?
- What publications or blogs do you read?
- What associations or networks do you participate in?
- What social media channels do you follow?
- How do you go about making important decisions?
- What sources do you trust for information?
- How can someone in my position help to address your biggest challenges?
- What methods of communication do you prefer?
- How do you prefer to communicate with your advisors?
#4. Explore their Social Media
To learn more about their personal interests, Facebook and Instagram are the places to go. For information related to their professional life, check out their LinkedIn profile or page. You can also learn more about their network through LinkedIn. If they are on Twitter, you can check out who they are following and what content they are retweeting.
#5. Build out the Client Persona
A client persona should be simple—no more than a page broken down into the following categories:
- Background—personal, professional, educational
- Family status
- Demographics—age, gender, financial status
- Financial status—income, net worth, asset types
- Biggest Fears/Concerns
- Preferences—communication, information sources, etc.
Using your spreadsheet, pull together recurring data and patterns to start creating a composite. As you build out the persona, you should be able to home in on each category’s composite. When you’ve finalized your composite, give the persona name, such as Earl Executive.
Making Client Personas Work for You
Your client persona is the storyboard to guide what and how you communicate with your target audience, whether it’s through emails, blog posts, webinars, and presentations. Your message can be more sharpened so that it will resonate with your target audience. This allows you to narrow your focus and channel your resources more efficiently and effectively. More importantly, create more opportunities to engage positively with your ideal client. You can make your client persona work for you by:
- Increasing your niche appeal. Demonstrate you aren’t an advisor with cookie-cutter solutions.
- Focus your presentations. Create more focused presentations with messaging that resonates with your audience.
- Create more relevant content. When you know your target audiences’ interests and preferences, you can create more compelling and relevant content.
- Quickly build rapport. By using a more targeted message, you can build rapport more quickly.
- More consistent messaging. Your client personas help you focus on your prospects’ interests and motivations, which increases their engagement.
Financial advisors are beginning to realize their ideal client prospects aren’t too keen on a one-size-fits-all approach when trying to engage them. If your message—via your website, blog, or email campaigns—doesn’t speak to them and their issues directly, they are likely to move on.