Remember when you used to have to get dressed up to see the bank manager about a loan?
What was all that about?
Was it really down to the opinion of one man behind a brass name plate and fountain pen as to whether you looked respectable enough to get the dough?
Thankfully that’s all well and truly out the window.
We’re all bank mangers now. We can get loans, arrange our own holidays and sell our own houses thanks to technology. We don’t need to defer to a man with a tie pin and cufflinks to get what we want.
At last Thursday’s Nucleus annual conference, leadership thinker Blaire Palmer confirmed that levels of trust in authority figures are at an all-time low, and encouraged us to reveal the punk beneath the suit. “Being professional used to be about being glossy. Now it’s about revealing the mask,” she said.
So it’s time to loosen the tie and peel off the shoulder pads and make a human connection if you want your business to do well.
It seems many of us are onto this already. The day after the conference it was reported that only 1 in 10 employees now wears a suit to work.
In the old days, when men dressed down, they donned their golfing gear. Now they’re more likely to be wearing “Jeans or chinos, long-sleeved button shirts and a smart blazer or jacket with a pair of loafers or smart trainers”.
7 out of 10 said it made them more comfortable and more than one fifth said they felt more able to express their personality. This, it was said, helps to form closer connections between colleagues.
It follows then, that it can also help to connect with clients.
And this is essential in industries where tech and robots are competing for our jobs and driving down price. The one thing that can’t be commoditised is personality, empathy and the human connection: “Those intimate moments financial planners make when they connect with their clients,” as Nucleus chief customer officer Barry Neilson put it.
So if your product is you, how do you sell it? In brand terms you could do worse than start with your website:
- Show a human ‘face’ – whether it’s through imagery, information about your team or friendly, everyday language.
- Give people something they can connect with – something more than a list of qualifications, the date you launched and your logo.
- Provide detailed case studies and testimonials that describe exactly what you’ve done for your clients so they can see how you can help others like them.
- Then continue the story by sharing stories of success – even failures – and revealing what goes on behind the scenes.
There’s never been a better time to be more human and show clients what you’re really about. It’s a land of confusion, as Phil Collins once said, especially when it comes to finance. People are intimidated, overwhelmed and potentially embarrassed about the idea of seeing someone about their money.
Making a human connection through your brand can help to break down those barriers, establish trust and encourage action. For the long term.
As Nucleus chief people officer Kirsty Lynagh said “If technology is the answer then perhaps you’re asking the wrong question. Let’s all think about how we can double down on being human.”
Photo by Igor Ovsyannykov.