June 19, 2020

By John Capuano

Five questions (and answers) that may better inform your client communications in the new normal.

Understanding consumers’ behavior toward media and their buying habits as they relate to financial decisions has never been more important. Eliminating the guesswork regarding people’s preferences for content and media choices since the COVID-19 pandemic will be a big difference-maker—both from a mass-marketing and one-on-one standpoint.

Lone Beacon, a Boston-based full-service marketing firm dedicated to financial advisories, recently conducted a nationwide survey utilizing the databases of our clients. The recipients were people between the ages of 50 and 70 who have, on average, approximately $500,000 of net investable assets and have demonstrated an interest in retirement investing. There were 1,263 respondents evenly distributed from each region of the U.S.

They were asked questions pertaining to:

  1. Preferences for consuming information;
  2. Preferred type and tenor of messaging;
  3. Most appealing trait in a brand; and
  4. Preferred medium to stay informed.

We found that geography had minimal bearing on how people answered the questions. It didn’t make much difference whether a respondent was from a small rural town or a large city; their answers were fairly consistent. A more significant barometer was how some database subjects had been “trained” and exposed to messaging over time by the campaigns they were served.

  1. What would best describe your attitude toward attending a public gathering (restaurant, theater, sporting events, educational workshop) within the next three months?Since dinner seminars and workshops have been a mainstay for advisor leads for generations, this has been on the minds of advisories and marketers alike. Understandably people have concerns. Nearly 50% of the respondents would likely not attend or only attend with the highest level of caution, while only about 13% said this would not have any effect. The difference between big cities and small towns had only a marginal difference.
  2. What type of financial advice is most important to you in times of uncertainty? What would be your most preferred way of staying informed today?The quarantine has challenged the world to reach people in new, mostly digital, forms of communication. While old-fashioned “reading articles” took the top spot with 40% of the respondents, one-third of respondents preferred watching on-demand videos or webinars. It did appear that those who preferred video format may have been skewed by markets where they had been served more videos in the past, making it a more familiar platform. This clearly indicates our ability as marketers to mold media consumption patterns, and it is why we are bullish on this form of engagement.
  3. What type of financial advice is most important to you in times of uncertainty?There has been study after study that shows people look for comfort and leadership during challenging times, and this belief is supported. Overwhelmingly, “Trustworthiness” was voted most important with 63% of the votes, while the second most selected – “Brand trait” – only garnered less than 14%, with “Customer experience” at a close third place. “Industry knowledge” had less than 10% of the votes, which could be explained by the fact that it is such a commoditized industry.
  4. What type of marketing message would you be most likely to respond to?

    When it comes to the actual message itself, the leading answer by far was “Solution-based” with 65% of the vote. This would suggest that the intellectual message has to solve a problem first and foremost, as opposed to the “brand” itself. This supports the value of instilling a “trustworthy” brand to allow a more receptive audience to listen to how you will solve their problem.
  5. What is your most preferred mediums to stay informed during the pandemic?
    The response here was fairly consistent with industry averages based on this demographic and qualitative subset. 33% of respondents say the number one way to stay informed is cable news, followed by online sources with 28% of the vote. Despite its use by a large number of financial advisories, radio only yielded about 10% of the respondent’s first choices. Social media was slightly over 1%, which is encouraging as this is, by definition, a “social” network and not a news outlet.

Conclusion

During times of exponential change, it’s important to take a step back to gather data. We have a tremendous ability today to dynamically ask questions and learn from the people who matter most, more than ever. While our experience has allowed us to use context from similar situations in the past, it is in no way empirical. That said, those of us who have worked in the field for a period of time have a tremendous advantage when it comes to context, or “gut instincts,” but the data at our fingertips can help us challenge our instincts, or confirm them. Either way, there is no substitute for good data.

John Capuano is co-founder of Lone Beacon.

To read the full article, go to Wealthmanagement.com