As the battle for financial planning clients intensifies, more and more firms are seeking new and inventive ways to reach their audience.

Marketing and sales teams are working closer together than ever; and in your business, that means strapping your planners and your marketing together.

I’ve written much about technology. Apart from strategy, your IT has the most significant impact on your marketing. For example, one of our clients recently asked us to examine how they could tailor their marketing program directly to their clients. They also wanted to make sure they were delivering it at a time when their clients wanted to hear from them.

A big part of this involved personalising the messages clients received, depending on how far along they were on the buying journey. For our client, it meant using technology to better analyse the way consumers were interacting with the business, with the help of data from online campaigns, social media and website interactions.

The focus on personalisation in recent times has been controversial. For example, the way Google Assistant imitates a human has been in the news. In another recent survey, 40 per cent of respondents found personalised marketing “creepy”. Whether we like it or not, however, personalisation isn’t going away anytime soon.

Virtual personalisation

We’re already starting to see chatbots and other AI interact with humans but where’s the trend headed?

One of the exciting developments we’ve seen is the way technology uses data to interact with us. AI, combined with biometrics, is changing many industries. For instance, the way biometrics provides certainty of identity is still relatively new and the rate of adoption is climbing fast.

If you’ve travelled internationally in the last five years, chances are you’ve used facial recognition to re-enter the country. You’ve been using fingerprint and facial recognition on your mobile phone for years.

Similar biometrical technology can be used to tailor messaging to you. In retail, the virtual holographic assistant is a case in point. When you enter a store, a virtual assistant pops up and interacts with you. By using biometrics, the store knows who you are, what you’ve shopped for in the past, and what to recommend. All before you even speak to a human.

Think it’s too futuristic? Think again…it’s already happening. It can be applied to banking and finance. Consider a client walking into a retail bank and being greeted by a virtual assistant who already knows your name, details, and banking/financial history. This is personalisation on steroids.

Convenience is the key

Consumers, whether they’re looking at financial planning or any other product or service, demand simplicity.

This demand has led to ‘hyper-personalisation’, in which technology enables clients to consume a service as easily as possible. There are many valuable examples of industries where this has happened.

If an offering has a level of simplicity, a consumer is more likely to use it. In planning, we see this with the raft of new online offerings targeting younger generations. Rather than come in and meet your planner, you use an online tool or portal to make the contact. It means low-touch sales for planners and is usually more cost-effective. The client gets 24/7 access to advice.

What personalisation means for planners

Personalisation is as vital for planners. For example, tracking the pages clients have visited previously (such as the SMSF or wealth protection page) will prove very effective in engaging them when they next visit your website.

Personalisation is here to stay. The next step is making sure your business is not left behind.

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Anthony O'Brien is a principal of corporate marketing and communications firm Corpwrite. He is a business and personal finance writer with experience extending over 20 years in the communication industry.