Creating client trust through your online content
Is it possible to establish trust in your advice in clients’ minds before they even meet you? By giving people a feel for you as a person and your business online, you can, argues Pete Matthew founder of MeaningfulMoney.tv and Advisertech.co.uk
The British public have an issue with trust. In fact, that’s putting it mildly; they are cynical by default, wary of most big business and especially of financial services. Decades of mis-selling scandals, and blatant flouting of the rules make this an understandable position.
As advisers, we know that when we meet a prospective client for the first time, they carry much of this baggage into the interview room with them.
Establishing trust is a key skill that good advisers naturally possess, but that does require a prospect to be sitting in your office in the first place. But is it possible to establish trust in their minds before they even meet you?
In August 2011 I received an email from a chap I had never met. Mark’s email went into some detail about his and his wife’s financial position and, towards the end, included the following sentence: “Having watched a few of your videos, we feel like we know you and can trust you. Will you work with us?”
Mark & Chris had narrowly escaped being badly advised by a large national wealth management firm. They were still smarting from the experience and were especially wary of talking to another adviser, and so they had turned online. By this time, I had been publishing financial education videos online at MeaningfulMoney.tv for a year. Mark had found them, watched them, and as result got in touch. He was in the South East of England, and I live and work in Penzance in Cornwall, so the bulk of the work we have done for them has been conducted via Skype video.
How fantastic to have someone contact me out of the blue and for them already to feel like they can trust me. Talk about a buying signal!
A study by the website About.com identified 10 elements of trust, divided into three categories, which help people decide whether or not to contact a service provider:
1. Fundamentals. These are the things that must be in place for any kind of trust to occur. They include clear motives or transparency, relevance, ease of understanding and accuracy. If you can create content online through written blogs, online videos or maybe even a podcast which display these fundamental factors, your efforts will bear fruit.
2. Confirmers. These factors reinforce a prospect’s clients decision to trust you. People place great store on recommendations from friends and family. These days this often comes via Facebook or LinkedIn. Once they have found you, prospects should feel like you can relate to them and their situation.
3. Differentiators. These factors set you apart from other providers in the minds of your prospects. You should display expertise and authority in your field. Give people options, more than one way to achieve their end goal, not just product-based solutions. Be human and vulnerable in your approach. No-one trusts perfection; they expect you to have some flaws, so you should wear yours proudly. Offer something exclusive like an online community which people can feel a part of.
All these are things we do naturally when meeting prospects face to face. The skill is to be able to replicate this with your online efforts. After three and half years of being active online, it is likely that 2014 will see online marketing surpass personal recommendations as the biggest source of new business enquiries to my own advice practice. Your online community awaits – what will you do to help them trust you before they even meet you?
● Pete Matthew is managing director of Jacksons Wealth Management in Penzance. He set up in MeaningfulMoney.tv in July 2010 to educate the public about financial matters. He now teaches other advisers how to replicate his online success at Advisertech.co.uk