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Metaphors for Advisors: How to Make Your Message Stick


Metaphors for Advisors: How to Make Your Message Stick

Financial planning is like the Antique Road Show. It’s real value, but people don’t realize it at first.

Many masterful communicators such as Einstein and Aristotle have harnessed the power of metaphor to effectively persuade and inform.

Metaphors allow you to make the complex simple and the controversial palatable. Conversely, metaphors allow you to create extraordinary meaning out of the seemingly mundane.

The greatest thing by far is to be a master of metaphor ~ Aristotle

Financial planners are often natural left-brainers. That’s why they almost always associate metaphor with poetry, literature, and art.

And that’s a bit fuzzy. That may be true, but it can work to our advantage. Consider the following:

  • Financial planning is the gateway to success
  • Financial planners are like doctors who diagnose problems and provide remedies using a financial roadmap
  • Financial planners are architects designing and building towers of wealth

Unfortunately, it can also work the other way around.

Since Madoff and Robert Allen Stanford people like to call us used car salesmen or Ponzi Schemers ...

What metaphors do

Metaphors work extremely well in client interviews.

It’s like hitting a home run. 

Creating metaphors is almost always client-centered since it’s starting point is the client’s current perception.

Metaphors help clients see possibilities he didn’t see before and they help him make the best decision.

By packaging an idea in highly vivid language, they help him pitch it internally. They help a client feel good about an idea or decision.

It’s like pushing an emotional button. 

And that keeps a client coming back.

A financial planner is like an air traffic controller. He leads you to your destination and prevents problems on the way.

So, I hear you think…give me some metaphors that I can use. But it’s not as easy as riding a bike. I’ll tell you why in a minute.

Related: What Advisors Can Learn From Lego About Solving Problems

Are you using the wrong metaphor?

What most financial planners do is that we try to influence how people think by using the facts of our business.

Such as wealth management, estate planning, fee-only, CFP or other features.

And we create metaphors based on those facts. Such as: “Retirement planning is a lot like gardening, You need to plan ahead, start early and be flexible when things don’t work out as planned.”

Why doesn’t this work?

Because it’s not client-centered.

Its starting point is retirement planning. While it should be the client’s perception or emotion.

Another reason why it doesn’t work is that it’s appealing to a ‘need’ of the client. That’s also not client-centered.

There was only one person in the world that could create a need. And that was Steve Jobs.

That’s why you don’t want to use the facts and ‘the client’s needs’ when making a metaphor.

It’s as hopeless as telling a teenager to clean up his room.

Today, your clients have more choices than they need and they can simply ignore the things they don’t care about.

Like the features of your business. Changing how people think and getting them to do business with you is not so easy anymore. That’s why you don’t want to make your clients think.

It’s as pointless as a hook without bait.

People are tired of thinking what to choose. You have to make so many choices every day.

Are you using the right metaphor?

Don’t make clients think. Make them feel great about themselves.

People want to be touched by you. They want to believe in what you do and a reason to care. You have to give them that reason. To change how they feel. Not just what they think and do. Do it by selling the emotion. Not the facts.

Imagine a fortune cookie. Your service, wealth management, and your financial planning is the cookie. The story, the emotion and how you make your client feel about themselves is the fortune.

Don’t sell the cookie, sell the fortune.

It will have an impact like a tsunami.

Related: Why 97% of Your Clients Don’t Have Financial Goals and What to Do About It

What are you selling?

When you’re selling the fortune, it’s quite relevant which fortune you want to influence.

Is it hope, control, status, independence, guidance, relief, surprise?

Do you know which emotion you are selling to your clients? Before using metaphors, know which emotion your clients are appealing to. So that you can make metaphors that relate to that.

Here are some examples:

  • When you sell status, the metaphor can be: Our service is what Nike is to sneakers
  • When you sell relief, the metaphor can be: Our service is like water in the desert
  • When you sell surprise, the metaphor can be: Our service is like winning the lottery

When you use metaphors in this way, it will work like a magnet that pulls out the needles you want from the general population-haystack.

Now, I’d like to ask you:

For which emotion do you want a financial planning metaphor?

Please email me a comment and I’ll help you with an answer.

With your comment, you’re helping me and other readers of this blog with insights. So that we can inspire each other and think together to improve and innovate our financial planning business.

Let’s make financial planning matter,

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