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What Songwriting Taught Me About Marketing as an Advisor

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Written by: Aaron Flores 

I started writing songs as a hobby over a decade ago. The benefits have been great… I’ve been able to sing original lullabies to my children, give original songs as gifts to my loved ones, and it ultimately helped me ask my wife to marry me!  One of the turning points in my songwriting journey came when I bought a book that taught me the power of titles in songwriting. In some cases, titles can make or break the song.  When done right a good title can elicit emotional responses and motivate the listener to change their lives. If that sounds too dramatic think about the title “Let it Be” by the Beatles.  I don’t know about you, but that title makes me feel loss because I’m about to let go of something or someone that has made an impact in my life.  I also feel hope because I feel motivated to turn and face the future even though it’s going to be difficult.  Just three words does that to me. Good headlines, like good song titles, can do the same for your practice.  As a financial services professional it is imperative to help your audience feel emotion that leads to motivation and ultimately leads to change.  This is true whether you are writing a blog post or sending an email to your clients.  You want to inspire change that comes from using your services.  I want to share with you what you should know about having killer headlines to get your audience to take action.

Click here to swipe my list of 52 clickable headlines for financial services pros.  Once downloaded feel free to copy and paste or use them as a jumping off point.

A killer headline should identify a problem and offer a solution.  For example, the headline “6 Signs You Have Enough Life Insurance” identifies this problem: Under-insurance.  What is the solution?  An assessment of where you stand.  Of course, not all headlines will overtly do this but there should be enough context for the reader to understand what the problem is and that you are offering a solution or answer to their problem.  The title “Do You Need A CPA?” doesn’t neatly identify a problem, but we can read between the lines.  The problem could be uncertainty.  But It could go even deeper.  It could be that the reader is overwhelmed by having to oversee payroll and wants to know if it should be outsourced to a CPA that specializes in payroll services.  Find a way to incorporate this principle in your headlines and set a good foundation.

Your headline should pop. How do you make your headline pop?  Make sure it is visual. Paint a picture.  Notice the difference between “Best Retirement Planning Advice” and “What I Learned About Retirement Planning During Recess”.  The second headline takes me to recess.  I can visualize the sights and sounds.  I’m mentally transported to a time and place.  The payoff is that now I as the reader am curious about what lessons regarding retirement planning could be learned there.  Another piece of advice is to be intentional about the styling used.  Think about punctuation.  Try this exercise once you’ve come up with your headline: scroll through fonts in Microsoft Word or an alternative and look at how different fonts can evoke certain feelings or emotions.  That is the idea of creating an impact. Take advantage of your creative self. We all have a place in our brains that allows us to be creative.  Use it!

Your headline should be short and sweet.  Studies have shown that when reading a headline or title we pay attention to up to six words… meaning that if your title or headline is 12 words long, your readers will only pay attention to the first three words and the last three words.  With this in mind, one strategy is to use only six words in your headline.  Another strategy would be to focus your attention on making sure that the first three and last three words make an impact.  Here is an example, “Procrastinating Your Retirement Plan Is Your Worst Enemy. Here Are 5 Ways To Defeat It”.  Key words are: ‘Procrastinating’, ‘Retirement’, and ‘Defeat’.  These are the words that will get the most attention… which if fine.  That’s what you want your reader to focus in on.  In this example short and sweet still applies because the first and last words are clear about the problem/solution.  Whether your headline is three words or fifteen keep the concept short and sweet.

Related: 5 Ways Advisors Can Develop Good Storytelling Skills

Learn from the pros.  Check your current inbox and pay attention to the emails that you open.  What are the problems/solutions spelled out or implied in those subject lines?  Also notice the headlines or titles to the articles you’re reading and reverse engineer how you got there.  Understand how it was that you opened and read a particular article or blog post.  Another strategy is to set up a separate email and subscribe to several websites that are requesting your email to provide you more content.  Pay attention to the titles and headlines that got you to click or open.  Another strategy is to look at your browsing history and check out the last three articles or blog posts that you’ve read.  These are inexpensive methods for learning from some of the best marketers.

Promise simplification.  When you’re offering solutions to your audience simplification is one of the most powerful tools to achieve transformation for them.  Let’s look at this example, “File Your Taxes In 7 Minutes With This Hack”.  This strategy is about taking a complex or daunting task and simplifying it.  Your readers want convenience and efficiency in their lives.  This is universal because everyone wants to spend more time with what’s important to them and less time on things that can take them away from that.  So keep it simple smarty!

Know the rules.  You should know the rules when it comes to crafting your headlines. You may have to get your headlines pre-approved by a compliance department or you may simply need to use your knowledge and common sense.  Regardless, it is important to strike the balance between a creative and value-driven headline and one that is compliant with the rules and regulations that govern your particular profession.  As a Financial Advisor the best piece of advice I’ve been given is to imagine I am sending my headline/content directly to the SEC for approval.

The recipe for a killer headline is pretty simple but it’s easy to make it complicated. You may not have the time to spend crafting headlines.  Perhaps you just need some examples to get the ideas rolling.  I put together a list of 52 headlines designed for financial services professionals. These headlines address retirement planning, estate planning, tax planning, and insurance planning. Click here to swipe my list!  Once downloaded feel free to copy and paste or use them as a jumping off point.  Whether you start working on your own headlines or start by using this list keep in mind the principles that I’ve outlined here and you’ll find that there is power in headlines…power to move your clients and prospects to the next stage of improving their financial lives.

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