When you start putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard), think carefully about the words and the style you use. Every communication is an opportunity to reinforce your positioning, market your firm and your build your brand. Sometimes, dear mild-mannered financial planners, it’s okay to be bold – and even a bit (gulp!) bossy. It’s a noisy world out there. Your ads, flyers and other marketing promotions must stand out and grab attention.

Here are some important elements that deserve your attention:

HeadlinesHeadings should grab your readers' attention and engage them in the piece. If you fail to capture their attention, your piece will flop no matter how many people your promotion reaches. A headline should do at least three of the following things:

  • Convey something of value to your clients.
  • Suggest the benefits that await your clients.
  • Communicate the uniqueness of your product or services.
  • Compel the reader to want the service sooner rather than later.

Body CopyWrite in a conversational tone as though you are speaking directly to your readers. Use bullet points, dialogue, stories, or testimonials. You can use one sentence or fill the entire page with copy; however, avoid extraneous information that does not work toward your desired result. Again, promote your product or service by using the benefits to stimulate need and convince the prospect of your promise.

The BasicsInclude (of course!) your contact information. Be sure to include your Web site's URL, where more information is available (or even the special article or feature you are using as an incentive or buzz-builder). If you have social media profiles such as LinkedIn, a blog or a Twitter presence, be sure to include links and/or hot-linked logo images so that people can quickly connect with you through those forums.

Ask Questions

Questions engage the reader as long as they speak to his or her concerns--or "pain." Questions can touch the reader emotionally, and people learn better when they're reached emotionally than they do when the approach is strictly intellectual.

Use Words That Sell

Remember that words have power, so pick them carefully. Here are some words that work well in marketing copy:

  • Discover
  • Easy
  • Free
  • New
  • Proven
  • Save
  • Results
  • Introducing
  • At last
  • Guaranteed
  • Bargain
  • Quick
  • Sale
  • Wise
  • How to
  • Now
  • Announcing
  • Do not wait
  • Act now

You will, of course, want to consider the compliance aspects of using a word such as “guaranteed”, but it can be done if used in a non-investment related way.
For instance, consider this marketing copy, which could serve as the basis for an ad or a flyer promoting an educational event at a company-hosted lunch:

Are you standing on firm ground or financial quick sand?

[place compelling visual element to the left of the headline]

Failing to plan for your future today is guaranteed to cause headaches and grief later.

Take action now! Attend this free lunch-and-learn session and get the information you need to make wise financial decisions.

In this power-packed, one-hour session, you will learn how to:

  • Learning point #1 here
  • Learning point #2 here
  • Learning point #3 here
  • Benefit of attending #1 here
  • Benefit of attending #2 here

[SEMINAR TITLE]
Date:

Time:

Location:

Host:

“Don’t miss this free, educational event. Jane Jones, CFP®, is one of the most articulate and professional presenters in Kansas City.” ~ Tom Smith, President, XYZ Widget Company

Click here to reserve your seat. Space is limited. Register now.

About the speaker … [your bio would go here]

Notice the “words that sell” and the “calls to action” telling the reader exactly what you want them to do. Notice the question that evokes an emotional response and the endorsement from the hosting company’s president.

Don’t rely on spell-check

Spell-check is a terrific tool, but it's concerned with spelling, not grammar. If you misuse a word – for example, "it's" instead of "its" or "they're" instead of "their," spell-check won't catch it. So be vigilant when you proofread. Better yet, hire a professional proofreader or enlist a trusted, eagle-eye colleague. Four eyes are always better than two.

Next time, I’ll tell you how to use visuals and page formatting to help people understand and absorb your messages.

If you have missed any of my other Marketing Maven blog posts, please skim the archive of articles below. You can also enter “Marie Swift” using the search box on this site to find many other articles that I’ve written for Financial-Planning.com in the recent past. Don’t miss the Thought Leader interviews posted in the Thought Leaders section!

Marie Swift is a nationally recognized consultant who has for over twenty years worked exclusively with some of the industry’s top financial institutions, training organizations, investment advisory and financial planning firms. Her “Best Practices in the Financial Services Industry” blog provides additional insights and advice. Find it at www.marieswift.com. Get breaking news at www.twitter.com/marieswift