The Pronoun Test

Do you want to hear about me? You probably have some goal for being here on the Internet, on my blog. If I tell you some things about myself will that help you accomplish your goal?

Last week I played the role of a prospective client with an advisor. We are working on documenting her new client process. At the beginning of the initial get together she asked me why I was interested in talking with her. I’m getting to be within about 10 years of retirement, I replied, and thought I should probably get some professional guidance now that it was in sight. In that mock first meeting we covered what that firm believes about how money influences life, some of their beliefs about how to do financial planning, and their approach to investment management. Coming up on the end of the hour, we scheduled a second meeting.

It was similar to how sales intelligence speaker Sam Richter humorously describes a traditional sales call. First I’m going to tell you about my company, then we are going to spend some time going through the portfolio of our work, then we’re going to spend about 30 minutes talking about me. How does that sound?

Imagine being on a first date. It lasts three, maybe four hours. The person you are with spends three quarters of the time talking about themselves. What’s the likelihood you will want a second date?

We see a lot of this in advisor marketing. Who we are, what we do, what we believe, our qualifications.

But who does the prospective client really want to hear about? Themselves! What kind of outcome will they enjoy? How will they be different because they work with you? We get engaged by stories about us or people like us. The language, like your business, will be more successful if it is client-driven rather than advisor-driven. And there’s a simple way to tell what orientation your marketing language has.

It’s the pronoun test. Go to your homepage or open up your brochure. Compare the number of first person pronouns (I, we, us) with the number of second person pronouns (you, your). Which is the bigger number?

Our research shows that highly-referred firms talk a lot about their target clients. Spend more time talking about the people you want to attract and you will find you have more of them to talk to.

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