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Strengthen Your Brand with Intentional Storytelling

October 3, 2018

Would you believe that the oldest form of communication has once again become the most successful way to make connections? It’s true! In fact, the rediscovered art of storytelling is being used by marketing departments across industries to bolster brands and bottom lines.

This trend affirms what many of you already know: great stories help you establish trust and build connections. And if you tell stories with intention? You can strengthen your brand and your business.

Practice Makes Perfect

Financial advisors are natural storytellers. They regularly outline scenarios for their clients and draft what the next chapters of their clients’ lives will look like. They share anecdotes about what has worked well with their existing clients, as well as the issues that have arisen. Without compelling stories to tell, financial advisors would struggle to build connections with prospects and clients. But there’s room for improvement. Telling a good story is a skill, and like any skill, practice leads to improvement.

Intentional storytelling is the development of stories with the outcome in mind. What’s the message you ultimately want to convey? What knowledge do you wish to transfer to the listener? Intentional, well-told stories will:

  • Make the unfamiliar become familiar
  • Simplify complex topics and themes, making them understandable and relevant to the listener
  • Create emotional connections
  • Provide context and shared experiences
  • Make room for breaks and transitions to ensure comprehension and create lasting meaning
  • Use imagery to engage the listener and strengthen memory
  • Inspire the listener to take action

For most people, the subject of financial planning is complex and often overwhelming. That’s where financial advisors—who are uniquely situated at the intersection of technical financial concepts and the emotions involved with making life choices—can add value. Clients can get stuck there, unable to move forward, without your guidance and expertise on where they should go. Set yourself up with intentional stories to help them along, address their various situations, and practice perfecting your stories as time passes. To do this well, follow these tips:

Have an outcome in mind. Each story should have a purpose, whether that is to communicate knowledge, make a connection, or inspire action.

Tell a complete story. Every story needs a beginning (define the problem), a middle (how the problem was solved), and an end (successful outcome).

Stay on target. Stories should be to the point. Beware of veering off subject, and practice keeping your stories focused.

Be clear. If your story is about the importance of asset allocation, for example, speak to the level of your listener’s understanding.

Encourage listeners to participate. Develop stories that invite listeners to bring in their own experiences. You’ll create more personal and relatable lessons this way.

Update your stories over time. The stories that resonate today may become outdated a year from now. Be sure to tweak them as needed and discard them from your storytelling repertoire once they’re past their prime.

Use Experience as Your Guide

To fully leverage intentional storytelling to strengthen your brand, the stories you tell should communicate all the services your firm offers. This is where experience should be your guide. If you have lived through market crashes or guided clients through saving for higher education or preparing for long-term care needs, you have stories to tell.

Here are some topics to consider:

  • Why a prospect should choose you as an advisor
  • The importance of sticking to a long-term financial plan
  • Putting volatility in perspective
  • Why preparing for the unexpected is necessary
  • When a long-term plan should be revisited
  • Discussing finances with family

There is no limit to the range of stories you can tell!

The Goal Is Always the Same

No matter what stories you tell, the goal is always the same: create meaningful connections with existing clients and establish your firm as a reliable resource for new ones. Clients choose to work with you because they believe you understand their needs and can help solve their problems. In other words, they trust you. Your stories help build that trust. The more you practice your storytelling, the more confident you’ll become. So, are you ready to tell your story?

This post originally appeared on Commonwealth Independent Advisor, a blog authored by subject-matter experts at Commonwealth Financial Network®, the nation’s largest privately held RIA–independent broker/dealer. To subscribe, please visit https://blog.commonwealth.com.