Financial Copywriting and the Curse of the Copycat

07.16.19 | Natalia Autenrieth, CPA | 0 Market post img

Finding your voice in an industry where every topic has been covered.

I am blessed with amazing financial advisors who attend my monthly Financial Copywriting Office Hours. They are thoughtful, honest, and they ask great questions. 

Here’s one question that an advisor asked recently.

How can I get over the feeling that anything I write is simply regurgitating other people’s content? Is “copywriting” just glorified “copying” of someone else’s work?

This question goes beyond plagiarism. That’s easy enough to avoid if you use your own words and attribute credit where credit is due. I think this question is really about authenticity.

So, how can financial advisors write authentically — in an industry where every topic has been covered, and especially if writing isn’t their primary job?

You can’t lose your authentic voice.

Can I start with a short story?

The other day, I turned the house upside down looking for my cell phone. I frantically searched the counters, dug through the laundry baskets, and even checked the fridge … Just to discover that the stupid phone was in my pocket all along.

Your “voice” is just like that phone. You can spend years “looking” for it — and it’s inside your head the entire time. There’s a whole industry of mindfulness out there capturing millions of dollars every year — all because people want to STOP hearing “authentic voices” inside their heads!

So, let’s begin here. Everyone has a voice. Yes, even financial advisors.

You don’t have just one “authentic voice”

If you listen to your thoughts carefully, you will discover that few of them are truly original.

Some voices sound like your parents or your boss. Some voice snippets are from your mentor. Articles and books you’ve read, shows and movies you’ve watched, your neighbors and your kids’ PTA members — your brain stores them all, whether living, dead, or even fictional.

And yes, all those voices are a part of your “authentic voice”.

Think about the last time you talked to a prospective client. Compare that with a conversation you can have with a close friend after a few drinks. Now, recall the last time you were talking to your kids. Chances are, you showed up to each of those interactions with a different “authentic voice”.

Why is that?

Your authentic voice isn’t fixed. It changes all the time depending on your audience, your goals, and your personal history. That doesn’t make you fake or devious. Human brain evolved to help us survive in a social tribe, which is why we show up as a slightly different version of ourselves depending on circumstances.

It’s no wonder that you sit down to write a blog post — and don’t know what you want to say or how to say it!

Tactical advice to get out of your own way in financial copywriting

So, how can advisors discover an authentic voice — to write, speak, and connect with impact?

Step 1: Formulate the objective.

Why do need to write a blog post, put together a white paper, record a video, or update your website?

“Obviously because I have to do marketing!”

That may be true, but let’s dive deeper.

Writing, recording videos, hosting Facebook Live sessions — all those things are hard, and few people are naturally great at them the first time. If you want to get yourself past the infamous “dip”, you have to have a real reason.

In other words, unless you can make a link between doing those things and assuring your survival or place in a social hierarchy, you probably won’t do them.

To be clear, many advisors can make a connection between a thriving blog or YourTube channel and a solid prospect pipeline, which ties directly into financial success. If that’s the case for you, then learning how to have a stronger presence in writing or on video is worth the effort.

See also: Advisor Facebook Marketing Myths, Debunked.

Step 2: Do your research.

Remember how your authentic voice changes depending on who you are speaking to and what you are trying to say?

So, you must begin by getting clear about your audience. There are dozens of tools and checklists that can help a financial advisor build a client avatar. Is your audience male, female, or mixed? What are their ages? Education levels? Financial well-being? What pain points are they experiencing? How do they think — and what do they not know?

See also: Building a Financial Advisor Marketing Plan that Works

You must also do some research about the subject matter of your white paper, blog post, or video. You probably have some technical knowledge of the subject already. However, building a simple outline of key points will help you frame up your written piece.

Step 3: Incubate.

Yes, the next step is to walk away. Why this is important is a subject for another blog post.

Here’s a short version, though.

Your brain’s Default Mode Network (DMN) produces creative content and solves problems.

However, it needs a trance-like state of flow to do its job. You can’t force your brain into gear to write an article or record a video on the spot (unless you have used trigger training or something similar to develop this superpower).

So, you must allow your brain time and space to process.

Your instructions so far are simple. Define the objective. Do your research. Walk away.

Step 4: Write.

When you are ready to write, my best advice for you is to “just write”.

It doesn’t mean that writing is simple or easy. It does mean that the act of writing should not get muddled by doing more research, editing, second-guessing your word choices, or fixing sentence structure.

All those decision-making and judging functions are done by different sets of neural networks in your brain. If you engage them, you will cancel out the Default Mode Network.

So, no decision-making. No judgment. Just content generation.

See also: What Can Financial Advisors Learn from Hemingway?

Step 5: Edit. 

After you finish writing, walk away for a while. Depending on the text and your preference, the break could be as short as 10-15 minutes (or as long as several days).

When you are ready, pick up your text with your editor’s hat on. Now is your time to look at structure, analyze your sentences, fix those spelling mistakes, and add fact-checking links.

Remember that editing is about communicating in your authentic voice that’s strategically chosen for impact. The end result should sound like you. It should be tailored for your audience’s understanding. It should be the best version of you — intentional, clear, and impactful.

How do you get there?

Practice. As you write more, you will find that you can tap into your authentic voice naturally. By structuring your workflow to respect your brain’s neural networks, you will train yourself to write on whatever topic you need, when you need. And maybe, for some of you, it might even turn out to be fun!

What tips and tricks for advisor copywriting work well for you? Please share in the comments. And if you would like a deeper dive into how advisors can harness the power of their neural networks to supercharge their content, let me know!

Natalia Autenrieth, CPA

Natalia Autenrieth, CPA has audited Fortune 500 clients as part of a Big 4 team, built an accounting department as a controller of a large hospital, and served as a consultant to municipalities. Today, Natalia combines her technical chops with a passion for story, psychology, and writing in her role as the Director of Content Strategy at Brewer Consulting. Natalia loves food — and will drive 150 miles to eat at a random restaurant she has dug up on Yelp. You can connect with Natalia on her LinkedIn page and on Facebook.