“James understood our essence and delivered the creative copy we required. ” - Milton Wigdorowitz, owner and financial planner at GMP Financial
GMP Financial is a boutique financial planning firm in inner Melbourne. They provide wealth management and retirement planning to Australians at or near their career's end.
I heard from GMP Financial while they were developing a new website. They were mostly happy with how it was coming together, but the agency's copywriting wasn't up to scratch. It did little more than restate the points on their existing website.
They came to me to get these words right.
On first glance, financial planning seems a bit bloodless. What does this phrase put in mind? Percent signs, digits, calculations, whole bookshelves of changing legislation, and an avalanche of paperwork. Dry as a bag of flour, right?
For those nearing the end of their career, planning for retirement carries a huge amount of emotion. It's no mere idle bunch of numbers on a spreadsheet: it's more or less how you get to live the rest of your life. There's little else you have more at stake in.
Trust and relationships are central to this work. Few of us really know the ins-and-outs of prudent investment strategies or the maze of laws and rules around them: we need to depend on someone who does, and who will put our interests first. Most of us would probably prefer to understand what they're doing on our behalf as well.
The ultimate goal of a well-planned retirement is the lifestyle it allows. This is an obvious benefit in and of itself, though most new customers won't experience it for a few years yet. Hidden inside this is an enormous benefit that the customer can enjoy right now.
As the clock ticks on your wage-earning years, it's understandable to become troubled about where the money's gonna come from. Knowing there's a solid plan means less stress, less worry and less lying awake at night. This freedom from worry right now can be an even more powerful motivator than the car you'll drive or the restaurant meals you'll enjoy five years later.
Selling retirement planning services through the written word is a peculiar task. The benefits the customer will feel most tangibly - things like waking up every Monday with no need to wrestle bloated commuter roads, or riding out Melbourne's bitterest weeks of winter with tropical salt and sand and a hammock and one of those brightly coloured refreshments with the swizzly straw and toothpicked fruit bits and paper umbrella that you would feel a bit silly about if you were holding it at home rather than in paradise - are also things not to promise. Certainly not without seeing their super.
Neither can we offer specific returns or performance.
At this point it starts to feel like we can't really say anything. We could always resort to airy platitudes. But that's no way to present a great business.
Instead, we needed to show what it is about GMP Financial that makes them the right decision for the retirement you're looking for.
Within minutes of meeting Milton and his team at their office, I saw that impeccable communication was just a part of how they went through the work day. These were conversations where every word was given attention and then considered. It was clear they weren't just money people.
It seemed such a pity that you couldn't see this in their current marketing material. In an advice business, speaking and listening are at least as important as the expertise itself.
Milton told me more about his work: about how he quite literally spent years guiding a typical client. He spoke about the importance of looking beyond the figures, at what the customer actually wants to do with their life. Only then could you understand an individual's financial priorities.
It became clear that personalised care and attention was also at the core of what they did. They weren't there to offer the same investment strategy to everyone.
GMP Financial started in 2001, and Milton had decades in wealth management before that. In a very real sense, this was his life's work. Experience was another clear selling point. You only get one shot with your life savings, so it seemed only natural to prefer a financial planner who's done the work a few times before.
Social proof was another point in GMP Financial's favour. They'd had no shortage of delighted customers. It made sense to have some nice words from them in a very visible place.
We took stock of the goals we had with the website, and how they fit into wider business objectives. We considered who was coming to the website and what was going through their minds to bring them there. We worked out what our messages were, and the style, tone and register to convey them.
Then I got in the car and went home.
Once you've worked out who you're talking to, what you want to say, and how you want to say it, the rest is just a simple matter of writing. I had the first draft back to them within days. After some feedback and a small revision we had the final version ready for the website. Some weeks later, the new website went live.
So what did the team think of all this?
“Thank you for all your hard work! We are thrilled with our website!”
How about your website? How is it performing?
Do the words do everything they could?
What would it mean for you to engage your visitors with messages that anticipate their motivations and address their concerns? To speak to them in words they readily understand? To establish the trust, rapport and subject matter authority? To turn casual visits into customer enquiries and browsing into buying?
How many potential customers browse to your website and then disappear? How much would it be worth to you if they weren't lost forever?
Like to have a chat about some sharper words for your site? Let's talk. Please send me a message using the contact form. Say hello and introduce yourself. It'd be lovely to hear from you.