Client-centric language: ensure you put your client first

Content and product marketing have become increasingly important to investment marketing strategy. This is even more relevant in a world where most people are working remotely – suddenly we have a unique opportunity to talk to, and connect with, clients who are hungry for insight.

Investment managers should use this a chance create thoughtful and relevant content that their audience can really engage with, rather than bombarding them with information for the sake of it. Much of this battle is won in the way we speak to clients.

How many of us can be sure that we’re doing this as effectively as possible?

The Fraction of Attention

Expert investment writer Andrew Skeen, shares a framework to help understand readership, and establish why a certain piece of content gets read or not. The Fraction of Attention, derived from communications theory, suggests that by maximising the benefit (B) and minimising the effort (E), you are left with a larger readership (R).

Or, put another way: if the reader immediately perceives there is a reason to read your content, and there is little perceived effort to read your content, you increase the likelihood that your client will read your content. 

Skeen believes investment managers should use language intelligently to help ‘raise the B and lower the E’. He suggests four key principles to consider when writing the type of content that can help with this.

Increasing the B

Write to your prospective client

  • This may seem like stating the obvious, but when we analyse communications, a surprising number of investment managers tend to write to themselves instead of their clients
  • Instead, always start with the client by addressing their needs, wants and concerns – and always end with the client, ensuring they know how your content benefits them
  • Finally, target and segment your audience and write directly to your chosen segment. For example, if you are addressing a financial advisor, talk about ‘you and your clients’, or if you’re addressing an end investor, refer to ‘you and your investments’

Focus on their needs

  • In-house analysts and economists produce much of the investment-related content that clients receive, but this is all too often written from the business’ perspective, and not focused on who the reader is
  • Instead, prove to your clients that you can fulfil their needs by expressing your empathy with their concerns and needs, and demonstrate your ability to help them

Decreasing the E

Overcome resistance to reading

Reading – especially when technical content is involved – does not come naturally to many people. As content producers, it is our job to make it as easy as possible for our clients to consume our material.

Officious tone

  • Investment managers primarily sell trust: the trust that they will deliver the performance they promised and look after your assets. However, they are known to write in a way that undermines that trust, mainly through long, academic and jargon-infested sentences
  • Research shows that the plain-English writer is perceived to be more intelligent, has a greater demand of the topic, has a more organised mind and is more worthy of trust than the academic writer
  • Investment managers should focus their efforts on writing in a tone of voice that resonates with their clients, in language that really puts the client first.

Writing with action

  • A reader always consumers information more easily when it is in an active voice, rather than the passive. The active voice emphasises the person who performs an action, whereas the passive voice emphasises the recipient of the action. For example:

Active: ‘Nick managed the fund’                                

Passive: ‘The fund was managed by Nick’

  • An active voice benefits the client, as it is quicker to read and easier to understand. Passive voice sentences tend to use more words, be vague and lead to a tangle of prepositional phrases that ultimately lose the client’s attention and decrease retention rates.

This may seem like a lot to take in, but the fundamental point to remember is to keep your client at the forefront of all your content efforts.

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