Many financial advisers have built their businesses off the back of referrals from ‘word of mouth’, testimonials, recommendations and case studies to name a few.
It’s far more targeted and persuasive than traditional advertising because the recommendations come from the clients, customers or business partners that have ‘experienced’ you in some way.
Generating referral business is an appealing growth strategy for most people in business…yet one many still have failed to master.
If you want your message to spread (or as I like to call it, ‘spread your disease’), you need to get people talking.
“Social influence has a huge impact on whether products, ideas, and behaviours catch on.” Jonah Berger
In his book, Contagious, Jonah Berger outlines the six principles that make content shareable.
Social currency (a fancy word for anything we share because it makes people like us)
As humans, we want to be seen in a good light. We want people to think we’re smart and cool. So we use social currency to create a positive impression on the people around us.
We want to feel like we are people in the ‘know’. Insiders.
“Will it Blend” is a viral video series produced by blender manufacturer, Blendtec.
Rather than talk about the power and capabilities of their blenders, they show it.
Tom Dickson, the company founder, simply blends objects you wouldn’t expect a normal blender to be able to handle – like iPhones, Justin Bieber plastic toys, and golf balls.
It’s not funny (unless you like corny dad jokes), but it’s OMG-worthy, and you want to share it. It’s got social currency.
His most popular video had over 18,000,000 views. Now that’s virality.
Think about ways you can ‘show’ rather than tell people so they understand how valuable you are.
Triggers help remind us of things.
Products and services get inserted into our thinking and lives, without much conscious thought when a trigger sets it off. And half the time you are not even aware it is happening.
If I told you to “have a break”, what would you think of?
Kit Kat. It’s a trigger.
Or if I said, “Just do it” – you think of Nike. Right?
“Triggers and cues lead people to talk, choose, and use.
Social currency gets people talking, but triggers keep them talking.” Jonah Berger
What are some triggers you could use in your business to put ‘you’ in front of your clients’ minds?
Naturally contagious content usually evokes some kind of emotion.
And emotional things get shared.
But it’s not just any emotion. It’s usually high arousal emotion like awe, excitement, humour, anger and anxiety.
We’ve all probably shared an “I’m outraged” link on social at one time or another (or you have at least thought about it).
Emotions drive people to action.
Susan Boyle’s performance on Britain’s Got Talent got 10’s of millions of views in just days, because people were in awe. Here was this quirky woman with an attitude, who looked out of place, but who had an amazing voice that wowed both the crowd and judges.
She surprised everyone!
So if we think about it in the context of financial planning, advisers often talk about insurance, SMSFs and investments. But for most people, that doesn’t elicit much emotion (well not the kind you want anyway).
But what if you started digging into the emotion behind those things, like the excitement of a big holiday or removing the anxiety around spending and debt?
Now we are talking as it dramatically changes the kind of message you deliver, doesn’t it?
You would have many of these up your sleeve.
There’s a lot of power that can be built around things being public.
Movember is a clever way of taking something that is often not talked about – men’s health – into the public realm.
Yes it’s silly and a bit of fun, but the act of a normally clean shaven man growing a moustache worthy of a 1980’s Australian cricketer, is a conversation starter.
It’s a campaign that advertises itself.
People ask about it and get on board or share it. It’s actually pretty brilliant marketing that is built into its product (fundraising).
For you, public could be your community, where you hang out (on and offline). Any place where you can be recognised for creating something meaningful, that has a purpose.
We humans like to help others, so being able to share something that will save someone else time or money, improve their health, or have some other practical value, makes us feel good and hopefully helps out a fellow human.
In 2011, 86-year-old Ken Craig from Oklahoma recorded a video that went viral.
It was about…wait for it…cleanly shucking corn.
You know, pealing the husk of a fresh corn cob, without all the messy stringy bits.
Clearly, this is a problem that people were looking to solve, because the video has been viewed over 8 million times, despite the amateur quality.
In fact, that element probably adds to its appeal. Because it is real.
So the question is, as a financial adviser or mortgage broker, what practical knowledge, tips or tricks can you share that people would be eager to learn and pass on?
Ah, this is my favorite part!
Stories are a way to share information and lessons in a way that is far more memorable than just regurgitating facts.
The more interesting the story, the more it sticks.
They can be stories about other people, your clients or they can be analogies that share the message you want to be conveyed, yet may have nothing to do with financial advice.
Or they can be personal, about you and how you ended up where you are today, for example:
“We were young and in love… and after a few months of dating, I was pregnant. I made it my mission to learn everything I could about managing money to keep the folks happy and to enjoy an unpredictable ‘long life’ with my new man. As a financial adviser today, I make a living out of helping others turn sticky situations into an enjoyable reality.”
This is more memorable than: “I left school, got a degree in financial planning, worked my way up the ranks in the bank and started my own financial planning business 10 years ago.”
Weight loss companies are always telling stories so people can see themselves in others who have already been on the journey. The story helps them connect with the emotion and encourages them to share it with their friends.
And the product is so embedded in the plot, that they can’t tell the story without it.
“Virality isn’t born, it’s made.” Jonah Berger
Word of mouth and getting referrals isn’t always about asking your clients and network to “send people your way”.
It is just as much about creating content that people can’t wait to share.
And when they share, you and your business are so much a part of it, they can’t help but be endorsing you at the same time.
I’d love to know what you have done to make your content ‘sharable’ and generate more business.