How Will They Know They’ve Been Helped?

Composite image of hands showing expectations


Financial planners could start the meeting with new clients by asking a simple question: “What is it that brings you in today?” the Journal of Financial Planning suggests. Another question to ask to get a sense of expectations is: “At the end of our meeting today, how will you know that it has been successful?”

“Managing expectations, for me, is the single most important aspect to maintaining a healthy and rewarding relationship with my clients,” Annie Pace Scranton writes in Forbes. Scranton suggest five ways to manage client expectations:

  • Be honest from the get-go
  • Under-promise and over-deliver
  • Anticipate the client’s needs
  • Be accessible for communication
  • Use reports to track work done of the course of a week or month

In thinking about how all this might apply to blog content writing, the question I want to raise is this: Since our content is often being read by people who are not yet our clients or customers, how can we address their expectations?

Sure, it’s easy to fall back on analytics: If readers remain on the page for a certain number of seconds or even minutes, if they click through to our website landing pages, if those readers call or email us, if they sign up for our RSS our blog or newsletter, etc., etc., we’ll know our blog posts have been successful.

But I’m fascinated by that image of the financial planner, before the interview has even begun, asking the prospects how they plan to judge whether or not their time was well spent in sitting down with her. Are there ways for us, through the design and language of each of our corporate or professional practice blog posts, to challenge readers to define in their own minds what would make them feel their time on our blog site was well spent?  Here are a couple of thoughts from Darren Rowse of

  • Communicate your own expectations clearly (how often you’ll post, what topics you’ll be covering, etc.
  • Identify common unmet expectations and pre-empt them
  • Don’t hype yourself

For my part, I put a lot of stock in the opening sentences of blog posts, because that’s where I think readers get a cue as to whether they’ve landed in the right place to find the information, products and service, or advice they were searching for.

Sure, it’s the keyword phrases in the title that start the job of getting the blog found. But, once the online visitor has actually landed, it takes a great opener to fan the flicker of interest into a flame, is how I see it.  In fact, a big part of blog content writing, I’ve found, involves getting what I call the “POW opening line” right. That line might be a bold assertion, an in-your-face statement, a stage-setting phrase.

Whichever tactic you choose, you’re setting the stage for the reader to make a judgment about their own expectations, forcing them to answer that financial-planning-interview question, “At the end of the encounter, how will you know it’s been successful?”

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