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Using the Starbucks Process to Combat Robo-Advisors

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Using the Starbucks Process to Combat Robo-Advisors

By Mandy Fisher

We don’t buy the $5 latte from Starbucks on a daily basis because their coffee is better. We pay double what we could elsewhere because of the experience: the brand, the service, and the atmosphere. The same theory should apply to financial advisors combatting robo-advisors.

In the formal explanation made by Investopedia, a robo-advisor is an online, automated money manager, providing portfolio management with minimal human intervention.

Robo-advisors can be convenient, sure, but let’s remember that they’re hardly the cat’s meow. Here are two main areas where they lack:

1. Robo-advisors don’t get to know the client personally. Tell us: how do you manage someone’s portfolio intelligently when you don’t know their personal situation -- their job changes; their family; their lifestyle? You, financial advisor extraordinaire, understand how these factors play into the needs of the clients you’re serving.

2. Robo-advisors don’t service clients beyond a basic portfolio. If there’s a trend for things moving online, there’s also a trend for people going to a one-stop shop for all of their needs. Robo-advisors can’t satisfy this desire.

Remember: as cool as a robot is, you have a lot of things it doesn’t: an ever-expanding knowledge base, a history of experience, and the ability to communicate and be there when your clients need you most, no matter the situation.

Market your strengths

With your strengths in mind -- especially as they relate to what robo-advisors lack -- it’s time to market your differences. After all, the millennial investor (who is the future of your company), needs to hear how you can help them better than a robo-advisor can.

Here are three steps you can start taking today:

1. Develop a strong, relatable brand. Go beyond your logo and color scheme and write down your brand goals -- consider your potential clients and how you want to be perceived by them. This is what Starbucks does. They tailor their service offerings and their marketing message around the trend of individualism. Today, you can go into Starbucks and completely customize your drink order. Individualism is one of Starbucks brand goals only because it is important to their customers. Your brand goal might be to be the firm that brings families closer together. Keep in mind that your brand goals should inform the tone, the messaging and the images related to all of your marketing.

2. Build service around convenience. If there’s one thing that robo-advisors can challenge you on, it’s convenience. So you might have to work a little harder here. How can you consistently be available to your potential clients and current clients in the easiest way possible?

Starbucks recently added a new feature where you can order on your mobile and pick up your drink at the store without having to wait in line. This was built around the idea that people are short on time.

Are your potential clients short on time and if so how can you streamline your services them? For starters, build a website that works for you. Then utilize your website as a launch pad for your services. Make it easy for people to sign up or request more info. Add a client login to your home page so that clients can easily log in to their accounts. The key here is to make the client experience as pleasant as possible and use your marketing to promote those conveniences.

3. Create an engaging online atmosphere. Engagement can make or break a company since not engaging is a missed opportunity. Use your online channels such as your website or social media to listen to your potential client's needs and then respond back to them. For instance, follow your Google Analytics trends to see what blogs have the most views and then post more blogs on that topic.

Your online community should be a place where people want to hang out. People view Starbucks as a place to gather. Make your online community function the same way. You do this by making your website and social media platforms user-friendly, post content that relates to your readers and open lines of communication by responding to people who comment on your posts.

Think of your online atmosphere as your community of friends where you communicate openly with one another.

Be the answer for your clients

Starbucks does not succeed because of the quality of their drink, but because of the quality of their marketing combined with their ability to listen to their customers and potential customers needs and desires. So there is no reason that you cannot beat out the competition of a robo-advisor. Just remember to create your marketing message based on the competitive advantages you have over robo-advisors and then promote the heck out of them-- this makes the choice obvious for your target market.