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Have you seen the ads that Charles Schwab has been running on TV?
You probably have seen them.  They sound like real people, but they’re actually cartoon/colorized images.

These may be the best ads for financial services ever created.  Here’s why:

You’re probably not aware of this, but in the financial services industry, firms and advisors are strictly prohibited from running testimonials of any sort. Think about it… how powerful would an ad be if some firm could get a few of their clients on TV and have them say: “You know, at so-and-so brokerage firm, they told all of us to get out of the stock market last summer!”

Too bad we can’t do that.

I would love nothing better than to have one client after another — in print, audio or video — in their actual voices — splattered all over my website.

See, I can expend tons and tons of hot air (or spill a lot of ink) telling you how great I am.  But it becomes much more believable when you see an image of someone who looks like you, or someone who looks like someone you know, or who talks like you, or has the same problems as you, and is seeking a similar solution as you.

Which is why referrals are the strongest kind of recommendation/testimonial I can get.  You told your “story” in person to someone else, and told it in such a compelling way that it moved the other person to pick up the phone and say “I want that too!”   I sincerely appreciate the countless referrals I have received from you.  It tells me you appreciate the work I am doing for you, and also tells me you care enough to refer your friends and co-workers.  How terrific is that?

Testimonials are great — they are real people telling you real things that are important, or, at least matter to them.  Maybe their advisor or brokerage firm didn’t get them out of the market, but perhaps they provide a valuable service, like — “he clearly explained everything to me like no one else had ever done before…” or even something like “he’s the first advisor I’ve worked with who actually returns phone calls!”

Can you believe we are not even permitted to run testimonials saying “we were happy just to get a phone call back, that’s never happened before!”?

By the way, if you happen to spot a financial advisor or brokerage firm with testimonials on their website, run!

This is why brokerage firms usually resort to running only “branding” advertisements.  Not that there’s anything wrong with branding advertisements, in fact, they’re usually very effective over time.  It’s easier for them to say “we are bullish on America” (what precisely does that mean?), than to get their lawyers to approve an ad that says “well, my broker did not steal my money and basically did an okay job.”

This is precisely why these ads from Charles Schwab are excellent.  They are not real people — they’re illustrated images of real people.  Their voices are real, their situations are real — the woman on the street, the guy standing over the barbecue, the older couple.  People you and I could know very well.

More than that — Schwab really captures the essence of what’s going on.  You know, that conversation going on in the back of your mind.  These stories they tell are dead-on, bull’s-eye perfect.  I can tell you that every single one of these analogies they use in their commercials, I have also heard from new clients over the last few months.  Schwab has nailed it.

These are real people that really need help.

Of course, the next time you are with a friend or co-worker, listen.  Listen hard to what they are saying.  The main theme I have heard lately borders somewhere between worry and hopelessness, which is a terrible neighborhood.   The situation today is NOT hopeless, and worry never got anyone, anywhere.  Do THEM a favor, send them over to me.

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