New SEC Marketing Rule: Financial Advisors Using Video Testimonials to Attract New Clients
Have you heard the news?
There is a new SEC marketing rule that now allows for video testimonials! Advisors and financial professionals are thrilled about this opportunity to enhance their marketing plan. As of November 15, 2022, LPL’s new testimonials policy allows you to promote non-compensated client testimonials in your marketing materials. With this exciting new update comes many questions about what’s allowed. What a testimonial should look like, and how you can use them.
To briefly summarize, the rule considers a testimonial any statement by a client about their experience with an advisor, or referral of prospects to an advisor. The rule also has a few important conditions to note:
- No compensation can be paid for the testimonial.
- No personal or familial relationships are allowed between the testimonial giver and the office.
- The testimonial language must be accurate and non-promissory.
- Testimonial must come from a current client.
Now that we know the basics, let’s dive in to the top ways you can use video testimonials in your marketing plan.
Websites and Social Media
Your website is one of the first places a prospect will check to learn more about your business. This is a perfect place to house testimonials. To feature them on your homepage, try positioning them at the midway point of the page using a slider format so the testimonials automatically slide through. Another option is to have a dedicated testimonials page to allow for quick and easy access for clients and prospects.
Pro tip: Make sure you have at least three or four testimonials on these pages.
Along with written testimonials, videos of clients are acceptable as well. Keep in mind that what’s stated in the video does have to be reviewed by compliance verbatim. Once those videos have been approved, social media can be a great place to promote them. Publishing on a social site is a great way to strengthen your branding and promote word of mouth credibility. Your audience will hear from clients about the positive impact you make on their lives. Whether you use a written or video format, a digital marketing plan is important when sharing your new testimonials.
Marketing Directors in Finance Are Finally Catching Up
When you’re ready to hire a service provider, you may research and compare local businesses, visit their websites. You’ll review past client testimonials before making your decision. However, as a financial advisor, the same strategy you would use to select who you would work with, namely the use of video testimonials, may have previously been unavailable in your marketing plan to potential clients.
Modern technology and communication have dramatically changed how consumers select businesses they’ll work with. Incorporate social proof or a ‘stamp of approval’ from others through the widespread and easy-to-use practice of sharing first-hand consumer testimonials. The growth of testimonials in marketing is confirmation that opinions about an experience or purchase are trusted factors for consumers when researching their buying options. According to Podium, “93% of consumers say online reviews have an impact on their purchase decision.”
And the need for financial advisors to be able to use video testimonials – for the benefit of consumers trying to select an advisor – has arguably never been greater as the role of the financial advisor is expanding. The modern client can have complex family, career, and retirement needs, and often asks their advisory firm to do more than simply review and manage an investment portfolio. In fact, what consumers want to see most in advisor testimonials is specifically regarding the factors beyond investment performance. From the depth of planning expertise to the quality of client service.
Why Financial Advisors Testimonials About Service Are Important In Marketing
Financial advisory firms primarily sell an experience to their clients and families, potentially for generations. As an advisory firm, the greatest quality that can be demonstrated to future clients is the firm’s ability to build relationships through its service. Testimonials can provide that social proof, and at the same time help to build trust and a positive reputation among existing and potential clients.
The appropriate use of testimonials in an advisor’s marketing strategy can help them to do the following:
- Connect with a target audience in relatable and authentic ways as if they are hearing from a trusted friend;
- Highlight the services and specialties the firm offers from a client’s perspective rather than the advisor’s; and
- Balance unsolicited negative reviews on social platforms (e.g., Google Reviews) using positive, real-world examples.
HOW TO IDENTIFY A USEFUL TESTIMONIAL
When developing an action plan to incorporate testimonials into the firm’s marketing strategy, the first step is to identify target goals to ensure the right testimonials are chosen. Which means not just including any testimonials that sound positive, but the ones that align with the firm’s goals and the areas of excellence the firm wants to highlight.
So, how do firms identify good testimonials that will complement their marketing plan? When reviewing a testimonial, decide which criteria are most important to your firm. Some important questions to consider are provided below.
Does the testimonial speak to who your firm is and what you’re trying to promote?
An impactful testimonial might highlight how a firm’s advisors have provided above-and-beyond attentiveness to clients. Or may note the expertise a firm has with a particular niche market or service specialty.
Does your testimonial tap into the right target market?
The more specific the testimonial, the better. Testimonials where the clients provide specific job titles or industry/company affiliations will generally be more impactful. A strong understanding of an industry, profession, or even life stage (e.g., widowhood, retirement, legacy) can provide additional confidence to a potential client.
This is also important because the repetition of the same terms or specialty (e.g., “financial advisor near me,” etc.) helps Google to see your firm as an expert to serve a particular niche. More prospects within that niche will have an easier time finding your firm. Mainly seeing you as a trusted expert for their particular needs.
For example, a financial advisor video testimonial describing a firms’ expertise in a particular planning area (e.g., exit planning for business owners) will be more likely to attract clients seeking similar services if it’s communicated from someone who clearly had that need.
Our Advice: Prepare Questions in Advance
Once you’ve got some willing participants, send a few questions for them to ponder in advance. You could include things like:
- “What advice would you offer someone looking to hire a financial advisor?”
- “Why did you decide to work with our team?”
- “What challenges did you face prior to engaging us?”
- “What has been your favorite thing about working with us?”
- “How would you describe our support staff?”
- “What has been your experience with our financial planning process?”
When you encourage prospects to read your reviews online, you trigger the SEC Marketing rule prohibitions and disclosure requirements. Specifically, the rule states that once you have ‘explicitly or implicitly endorsed or approved the information [e.g., an online review] after its publication’, you have adopted the review, thus making it an advertisement subject to the rule’s conditions.
Keep these requirements and tips in mind to compliantly promote your testimonials and endorsements:
- Only provide prospects with links to your online reviews where accompanying SEC-required disclosures are present (e.g., your website)
- Be sure each review includes all necessary clear and prominent and additional disclosures
- It’s ok to direct prospects to websites where your reviews can be sorted in different ways. Just as long as you don’t control the sorting
Turning Your Biggest Fans into Powerful Lead Magnets
As the number of testimonials and endorsements you collect grows, you’ll discover who among your clients and other reviewers are most enthusiastic about telling the world the value you deliver and the impact you’ve made in their lives. This is the pond you’ll want to fish in to identify clients and non-clients who may be happy to play an even larger role in helping you grow your practice.
If you host a podcast, consider inviting a passionate client onto the show as a guest to elaborate on their experience working with you. Or ask if they would be willing to record a video testimonial. Or a video discussing their experience in a Q&A format you can use on your website and social media.
You’ll, of course, need to pay extra attention to compliance requirements given the likelihood an extended discussion may cover a lot of ground. With thoughtful planning ahead of time, you can steer clear of topics like investment performance. This could lead to a heightened risk of prohibited content and increased regulatory scrutiny.
Emailing Current Clients
When developing an email marketing plan to request testimonials from existing clients, the key is to select clients with whom the firm has had a positive relationship with. Those who fit your ideal market, and who the advisor anticipates will be eager to share their experience.
Emails can be sent separately to each client or built for mass outreach with programs such as MailChimp or Constant Contact. It should be personal and provide options to write a brief testimonial, direct them to share their review on another channel such as Google or Facebook or to come in and share their experience on video. This approach makes it easy for clients to choose the route they prefer, while potentially boosting the firm’s ratings on other sites.
This is a perfect time to get on the ground floor and start utilizing video testimonials immediately. You’ll get a great amount of online visibility as other firms will be slower to adapt. Firms are encouraged to embrace the transition period to familiarize themselves with the new rules and provisions, build efficient systems, and consider implementing tactics to support the firm’s business strategy and current marketing work. You don’t have to wait to begin using testimonials as long as they’re operating in good faith with what the new rules stipulate.