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What Is Storyselling for Financial Advisors?


Increasing sales is a common goal for advisors and the way you approach your marketing plan can have a direct impact on outcomes. Story selling is an increasingly popular strategy for promoting services and products to clients in an approachable, relatable way. If you’ve struggled to gain traction with marketing, learning story selling for financial advisors may help you translate action into results.

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What Is Storyselling?

Storyselling or story selling is a marketing strategy that emphasizes the use of stories to promote and sell products and services. Rather than simply listing the technical details of a product or service, story selling aims to make an emotional connection with customers.

How can story selling help you increase sales as a financial advisor? Here are five potential benefits:

  • Using stories to sell your services can allow you to grab the attention of prospective clients who may have become accustomed to tuning out traditional marketing messages.
  • You have the opportunity to structure stories in ways that allow you to weave in elements of your business’s mission and values, which can make your brand “stickier” and more memorable.
  • Story selling can help you break down the more complex details of your services or products in a way that’s easier for prospective clients to digest.
  • Building emotional connections through your marketing could help you gain more clients if they’re able to see themselves through the lens of the stories you’re telling.
  • Story selling doesn’t end once someone becomes your client; existing clients may generate more sales for your business if your marketing messaging allows them to identify additional financial planning needs.

Selling stories, not just products or services, can also give you a competitive edge in your chosen niche. Prospective clients may be more likely to gravitate toward an advisory firm that’s telling stories through marketing they’re able to identify with.

How to Implement Storyselling in Your Advisor Marketing Plan

There are a few ways to go about developing marketing stories for your business. Depending on the story you want to tell, you might:

  • Draw from your own experiences or those of your staff
  • Ask your existing clients to share their stories with you
  • Create hypothetical client stories

You may choose one of these options or all of them. When deciding which path to take it’s helpful to consider:

  • What your objective is in telling a marketing story
  • Who your intended audience is (i.e., who does this story need to resonate with?)
  • How to tell the story

When it comes to the “how” of storyselling, there are a variety of options you might consider. For example, if you’ve set up a professional advisor website you might start by including some client testimonials on the homepage. If the website also has a blog component, you might share a blog post breaking down a case study of how your services or products helped one of your clients, weaving in some direct quotes from them.

If you’re active on social media, you might tell stories through short or long-form videos. Email and direct mail marketing are two other possibilities for telling stories that prospective or existing clients are likely to connect with.

Once you’ve chosen the format your story will take, the next step is fleshing out the story. Here, the emphasis is on identifying the problem the (real or fictional) client faced and how you helped them to solve it. The goal is to inspire and motivate prospective clients who may be dealing with a similar issue to take the next step and contact you for help.

Example of Storyselling for Financial Advisors

A financial advisor sharing a story with clients to explain the potential benefits of financial planning.

The stories you tell as an advisor may depend largely on who you’re trying to reach with your marketing. Here’s an example of how you might structure a story if women are your primary target audience:

“The day Sarah’s life changed was the same as any other. She woke up, showered and dressed, had breakfast and prepared to head off to work. What she didn’t know was that before the day was over, her financial security would be threatened by a change she never saw coming.

Sarah’s spouse wanted a divorce. And now at the age of 43, she was starting over with very little money saved for retirement and quite a bit of debt.

Sarah came to us wanting to know how she could turn things around. She knew that statistically, women who experience divorce are often left at a significant financial disadvantage. And Sarah didn’t want to give up her original vision for retirement, which involved traveling the world.

We sat down and began working through the numbers, starting with her post-divorce debt and the assets she was able to leave the marriage with, which included a 401(k) and an IRA. We assessed Sarah’s risk tolerance, budget and goals to create a plan that now has her on track to retire at 65 with $2 million in savings.

‘I was worried about what my retirement might look like or if I might be able to retire at all,’ Sarah says. ‘But now I’m confident that despite the divorce, my goals are still within reach.’”

This is a short, condensed example of what storytelling might look like in action. But it’s designed to give you an idea of how to structure a good story that has:

  • A protagonist or hero (Sarah)
  • A conflict (her divorce)
  • A guide (that’s you)
  • A resolution (getting her retirement plan on track)

If you need more examples, you might consider giving “Storyselling for Financial Advisors: How Top Producers Sell” a read. The book, authored by Scott West and Mitch Anthony, explores what successful financial advisors know about gaining clients’ trust through the use of storytelling. Rather than inundating clients with facts and figures or technical details, storyselling as it’s explained here is all about tapping into intuition and client emotions to sell your services.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between storytelling and story selling?

Storytelling is what it sounds like—communicating a story. The purpose of doing so may be to attract interest, gain sympathy or warn others about someone or something. With storyselling, the end goal is to persuade those reading or listening to the story to act. That most often means buying something, whether it’s a product or service.

How do you sell through story selling?

The key to successful storyselling for financial advisors lies in creating a story that your target audience will resonate with and be inspired by. A compelling story is tailored to speak to the pain points of prospective clients in a way that’s relatable and prompts them to act, which often means contacting you to schedule a chat.

Why should advisors use storyselling?

Storyselling can give you an advantage as an advisor if you’re able to make your business stand out and your stories reach your target audience. Telling stories adds a human element and warms up what might otherwise come across as a cold sales pitch. Clients who come to you because of the stories you tell may be more likely to remain your clients over the long term if you’re continually speaking to their evolving needs.

Bottom Line

Financial advisors discussing a storyselling strategy.

Storyselling might be a new concept to you but it could be worth diving into if you’re ready to inject some new life into your marketing. The most important thing to remember is that you need to know your clients—and the issues they might be facing—to tell stories that they’ll want to listen to.

Tips for Growing Your Advisory Business

  • Marketing can help you connect with new clients. But if you have limited time or a limited budget to promote your business, you may consider an online lead generation service. SmartAsset AMP (Advisor Marketing Platform) is our holistic marketing service that financial advisors can use for client lead generation and automated marketing. Sign up for a free demo to explore how SmartAsset AMP can help you expand your practice’s marketing operation. Get started today.
  • Working with a professional marketing agency for financial advisors is something you might think about if you have little experience with marketing. An agency can evaluate your goals and ideal client profile to help you build a customized campaign. If you’re shopping around for an agency, take time to research their background and ask for tangible proof of the results they’ve been able to achieve for other advisors.

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