Zaphod Beeblebrox mixing drinks

Don’t believe your own press

“It is said that Zaphod Beeblebrox’s birth was marked by earthquakes, tidal waves, tornadoes, firestorms, the explosion of three neighbouring stars, and, shortly afterwards, by the issuing of over six and three quarter million writs for damages from all of the major landowners in his Galactic sector. However, the only person by whom this is said is Beeblebrox himself, and there are several possible theories to explain this.”

— The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the GalaxyFit the Ninth


“Autobiography is only to be trusted when it reveals something disgraceful. A man who gives a good account of himself is probably lying, since any life when viewed from the inside is simply a series of defeats.”

— George Orwell


You want to tell the story of your business so people can understand the value of the services you provide. You are a successful financial advisor with loyal and happy clients. Your marketing needs to communicate that so you can attract more, right?

What if you have the story wrong? How many clients could you miss if you ended up talking about the wrong thing?

Cognitive biases can lead you down the wrong path. When we think about our own histories we tend to put too positive a spin on things. It’s all so positive you may simply misunderstand what clients really value.

When you design the client experience you include what you believe will be most valuable. So when clients respond positively it reinforces those assumptions. And you might be right. But here’s the funny thing – clients may be responding to different parts of the experience then you think.

I hear this in client advisory boards. A recent board meeting provides a good example. A founder believed clients wanted a “one-stop shop” experience. The question on the agenda was what service to add next. We surveyed board members in advance to rate each of the services the firm provided along with a few they were contemplating. We presented the results for further discussion. The board’s feedback was unexpected.

They indicated what they most wanted was for the firm to be really good at a few core services and to have strong relationships with other specialists. What they would most value is for the advisor to stay involved with those outside partners to provide some independent evaluation, help interpret the advice, and make sure the guidance was congruent with the rest of their plan. They wanted the ongoing involvement of the advisor rather than simply a referral to another professional. But they were clear they did not think the best course was to gear up to provide advice on those topics directly.

The thinking error is to make it about you or your business. When you tell the story of your firm make sure the client is the hero.

And the solution is to ask. Let clients tell you what they like and value. Seeking that feedback and incorporating it into your marketing will help assure that your messages connect with the clients you want to attract.


Engage your best clients virtually to discover what’s on their minds and how to make your service more valuable. Download our free list of seven ways to make your virtual client advisory board a success.

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