21 May Engaging a financial copywriter – what they should NOT write about
By Martin Rusis, Managing Editor
When you engage a financial copywriter to write website messaging for your target customers, something is going to happen that will feel wrong. Prepare to feel like they’re leaving out half the story. Why? Because their job is to connect you with your target audience, and the half of the story they leave out is the half that audience isn’t ready for. You know it’s an important half, but only because you’re an expert in your field. And if you tell this half to non-experts – people who do not understand why and how certain facts are important – then they won’t understand it. Because they feel that you don’t get them, you’ll push them away. You just lost them. Probably forever. This little blog post will explain a bit more about what I’m talking about.
Financial copywriting for financial newcomers
The first point to understand: the website for your financial advisory or accountancy practice is not about you or your skills. Bizarre, but true. No, your website is about your customers’ problems. Who you are and what you do is less relevant on very your own website than what the intended readership wants from that site. So many owners of small and medium businesses think about their website as “everything about my business”. They see it as a digital compendium that states, sums up and encapsulates what they are about, what they do and what they think. Wrong. Reject this approach.
Your website is a scalpel, not a Swiss Army knife
Realising that your website is categorically not “everything about my business” is quite a readjustment to make. You have to go from that and to seeing your financial services or accounting website as a precision component in a larger system that drives enquiries and/or supports your credibility. In fact, if you are in any professional services field, this is what your website is for. Sure, it can be used to do other things, but those things are subordinate to developing and encouraging enquiries.
What is the right approach to financial copywriting?
So how do you produce the written website content that says the right things right? Through hiring a good financial copywriter who has a systematic way to anticipate the reasons why people come to your site, speak to those reasons and hitch your brand to the answers. This, essentially, is what copywriters “do”. At SASA, we have a system for figuring out why new customers enter the “buy space” of financial services. Our system uses psychographics and focuses on your target audience’s reasons to buy. There are other techniques – just as valid – that focus on “who” your target audience is (say, the demographics approach). For the way we work, our approach is the most efficient and effective.
Designed to invite, not impress
Once you have gotten over the idea that your website must capture your financial planning or accounting business comprehensively, there is another preconception to throw on the junk pile: that your website must be impressive. Unless you have long-term proof that being impressive or imposing is winning you business, don’t try to “wow” your visitors. The reason is that the ivory tower of high-flown branding and stunning design turns off the wary newcomers who’ll make up many of your incoming customers. Yes, stunning design impresses them – impresses them right into paralysis. It actively repels engagement. Remember, most kinds of new customers are somewhat wary because they don’t have their bearings in your sector yet. Websites with a high-concept or aesthetically stunning approach are not welcoming to wary people.
Being consultative means being on the customer’s level
Businesses that rely on being consultative, such as your financial services firm, need websites that connect with people and turn them into customers. Your website is meant to be a welcoming forum that invites people in, not a solid stone monument to gaze at. If your site is to gain enquiry, its design and message must convey a sense of warm competence, not aloof sophistication. While a lot of this comes back to web development and graphic design, the written messages that support the imagery play a major role in orienting (or disorienting) the first-time visitor. And the first-time visitor is what it’s all about, because ideally a new customer only needs to read the messaging on your site once to figure out if you offer a solution to their problem. Any further information can be accessed when they call the consultant they spoke to after making the initial enquiry via your website.
Writing around a layman’s financial literacy
We’ve covered a lot about what not to do: now, let’s look at what to do. In financial copywriting, you must assume your readers have the financial literacy of the average reader of The Sydney Morning Herald or The Courier-Mail. That is, think of a newspaper reader: an intelligent adult who has good general knowledge, interest and understanding of how the world works … but in a broad sense. This kind of person is a good analogy for most of the incoming customers of financial services firms. They are likely to be intelligent people who are highly educated in their field … and that field is not financial services (if it were, they wouldn’t be calling on you). This means you have to avoid all jargon. If it’s “industry talk” – the terminology you use when talking to your professional peers – then don’t use it. A good rule of thumb: if there is a word longer than two syllables, look for something shorter.
Financial jargon kills customer interest
Specialist jargon is largely for insider use. To discuss things among people who already know the score. When used to talk to incoming clients, jargon backfires in a major way: 1 part making you look like an expert, to 9 parts talking down to your customer. Figuring out how to avoid this is hard, especially when acronyms and jargon make up most of how financial experts communicate. More so, when the fine distinctions between similar terms are crucially important. Consider the difference between “Business Activity Statement” and “supplier activity statement”. Now consider that among other insiders you might just refer to one or the other as “activity statement”. To you and your peers, the context makes it clear which one you are referring to. Incoming customers often have NO context at all for anything you tell them – they take it all at face value. So you have to build your website around that.
Finding the right financial copywriter
It’s not hard to see why financial copywriters are so valuable when you have a website that needs to play its part in bringing in the leads. The right writer will be able to anticipate the messages that your target audience is primed to receive. From this starting point, they’ll use their expertise with wordsmithing to make sure the right messages hit home. And this will mean making editorial choices that cut across the instincts of you – the professional financial practitioner. Don’t worry! This is by design – it’s still too early in the customer life cycle for the detailed stuff. The goal here is connection and enquiry. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more about we how make this all happen.