Locked lips: Your secret marketing opportunity

By Steven McCarty

The National Ethics Association


Marketing opportunity: Replace loose lips in your office with locked lips.

Psst, can you keep a secret?

If so, you may be one of the few people left who can. Consider these trends:
  • The WikiLeaks phenomenon, in which a so-called non-profit releases government documents by the truckload, unmindful of collateral damage to diplomats, soldiers and non-governmental organization (NGO) staff
  • Celebrities and former politicians publishing “kiss-and-tell” books and tweeting on Twitter, savaging former colleagues to generate buzz and cash.
  • On Facebook, millions of Americans are dishing dirt about their friends and family – Facebook itself profiting by selling member data to third parties
Result? A pervasive sense that keeping confidences no longer matters. Talk about a marketing revelation for financial advisors!

In the age of WikiLeaks, an advisor who can lock down a client’s data (both hard and soft) is an advisor who can be trusted. Because trusted advisors are what prospects are seeking, it follows that confidentiality should become a core element of any advisor’s marketing campaign.

This is already happening. At Forthright Financial Planning in Albuquerque, New Mexico, owner CFP Jenny Migdal made “privacy” one of her six main website menu items. When clients click on it, here’s what they see:

“The reason we value confidentiality is that financial and life planning is a deeply personal encounter. In order to facilitate open and honest communication, you need to know that your choices, your decision-making process, and your future plans are kept confidential.”

She then goes on to assure clients that she’ll never disclose their working relationship to friends and family. This is a warm fuzzy with teeth!

So, how do you leverage your confidentiality policy to advance your business? Here are a few points to consider.
  • First, make sure you have such a policy. And not just legal boilerplate, but a strong statement of belief (a la Migdal).
  • Second, be sure you can deliver on your policy. This means having written procedures in place for locking down your practice. We will discuss these further in our next article.
  • Third, create a privacy-driven staff culture.
  • Give rewards for appropriate behavior. Stress that your firm will live and die by how well it protects client privacy. Walk the talk yourself.
  • Fourth, and finally, move confidentiality above the fold in your marketing program. Highlight it your brochure, website and seminars. And make it a talking point during all client meetings.
In short, replace loose lips in your office with locked lips. Psst, don’t tell anybody, but this is a great marketing opportunity. Got it?