Guiding Consumers Through Comparison to Find Solutions

Todays consumers will compare before deciding who to use or what to buy, so help them do that.  If you help consumers compare solutions well, it will lead them to choose you as their trusted source of advice.

The typical buying behaviour for discerning consumers today includes “research & learn” as they are increasingly going through a process of convincing themselves of their need and then shortlisting probable solutions before they engage with an adviser.  Yet, advisers are often delivering the information that consumers were looking for after the consumers have engaged with us.  It is wasted at that point….if not actually an annoyance.

If you do nothing else do this:  Take the generic product or strategy information from your financial plans or statements of advice, and put them on your website instead.  Get the generic stuff into the places where prospects are searching for information, and keep your personal advice personalised.

There is definitely an opportunity for financial advisers to use this generic content and market themselves well by providing it as comparison information for target market customers while they are in the “learning” phase – before they have engaged with us.

So get that generic “information only” type stuff out of your plans or statements of advice and get it into the public domain as early as possible.  Be smart a bout though and put some general commentary around the generic stuff to help prospects understand the differences between those choices.

We know that consumers who are seriously contemplating getting professional advice today are often trying to figure out some of the answers for themselves before they engage.  Things such as the nuances between competing insurance contracts or differing investment management philosophies are often missed by consumers as they are researching solutions and choices, yet that knowledge is a core competency of the professional.  We are the experts at working out which is the lemon.  If we are prepared to demonstrate that knowledge in advance it can achieve 2 very valuable things for our business:

  1. It confirms professional expertise, which generates credibility and trust; and;
  2. It assists consumers move further along the decision-making path

Besides these 2 excellent reasons, it can be very valuable for prospective customers.  While it seems that there is ever-increasing number of price-comparison websites and resources popping up for consumers to use, it seems difficult to find the information that consumers are looking for before they are worried about price.

I am talking about generic differences primarily, rather than direct product comparisons. Precise product recommendations or strategic solutions should fit into the personalised advice area, and be highly valued by the client.  Providing some relatively low value (but still “valuable”!) information in advance will achieve the 2 valuable things for our business.  Helping consumers understand the typical differences between indemnity and agreed value insurance contracts, or a revolving credit facility versus a table mortgage for example, is valuable information that assists them to understand broadly what type of solutions are worth exploring further.

Many advisers reserve this type of educational content for their written recommendations though, which I believe is the wrong approach. It results in producing longer written advice (or plans) containing unnecessary generic content at the precise point in the process where the consumers are really only interested in the personal recommendation.  The time to be providing that generic content is before the personal planning, or advice process, has even commenced.

So get the educational information out of the plans and get it onto the company website or blog where it can be found by future potential customers.  Help them compare possible options and make it easier for them to understand what they will need, and they will be far more likely to choose you as their adviser.

Related: Setting Yourself Apart: Strategies for Differentiation and Success