It’s becoming harder for talented professionals to differentiate themselves in the marketplace. Virtually everyone claims to be a client-centered expert and terms such as “pre-eminent,” “worldwide authority” and “top 10” have become so common they are beginning to lose their intended effect.

The competitive environment is indeed more intense. New providers with disparate platforms and operating philosophies are targeting the high-net-worth market with services that overlap the customary offerings. Aided by technology, traditional business models are being challenged and fees are under continuous scrutiny. These dynamics have contributed to an increasingly difficult business development process for all professionals, even the most talented.

Business Development is Key
Achieving business growth by cultivating relationships with high-net-worth households is a complex activity that can take many forms, but it almost always requires the involvement of more influencers and time than expected—or desired. In a recent survey with a cross-section of financial industry professionals—including investment advisors, wealth managers, private bankers, insurance producers, accountants and trusts and estates attorneys—the vast majority, or 93%, said that more wealthy clients were critical to their future success. At the same time, 88% of this group also recognized a shortfall in their ability to source such business, revealing a lack of both confidence and competence when it comes to developing business with the financial elite.

Thousands of tools are available to help financial professionals facilitate the business development process, and many of those can also be used to strengthen and expand relationships with current clients. One tool that’s gaining acceptance and traction, particularly as part of a broader marketing strategy, is videography.

The Power Of Video
One driver behind the growing acceptance of video as a marketing tool is the diminishing ability of other media to reach key audiences. It’s become so easy to produce blogs, white papers and books that the sheer volume of free materials and clumsy sales pitches thinly disguised as thought leadership has had an anesthetizing effect on the marketplace. What were once considered potent vehicles for delivering critical analysis and insights can easily get lost in an ocean of mediocre content or overlooked amid a deluge of provocative headlines. It’s getting harder and harder to capture the attention of consumers and key decision makers.

Meanwhile, networks such as Twitter, which allows posts of no more than 140 characters (or basically one sentence), and Vine, which limits video length to no more than six seconds (or roughly the time it takes to apply lip balm), have helped emphasize the importance of imagery and emotion in engagement while shrinking the attention span of the average user. The general interest level in reading is decreasing, and more people are choosing to absorb new information—whether it’s fact or fiction or for professional or entertainment purposes—through visually oriented media such as television and videos.

Pictures, of course, can often be more efficient than words, capable of conjuring emotions and ideas in mere seconds, making it easier to engage viewers quickly. When used effectively, videos can be creative, flexible and entertaining ways to communicate key messages while functioning as either a replacement for written content or a hook that motivates interested viewers to engage more fully, possibly with written materials.

Smart devices, user-friendly software and sharing websites such as and have all made it easier than ever to produce, distribute and watch videos. In a matter of seconds, even the least technologically inclined person can record something—a cute kitten, a drunken bar fight, a colleague telling an inappropriate joke—and upload it to the Internet or send it to a distribution list. Given the glut of amateur videos, most professionals will want high-quality videos that are purposefully crafted to be relevant and engaging to a specific audience.

Video And Business Development
Corporations have used videography for decades to motivate, educate and communicate with their employees, clients, partners, competitors and the media. More narrowly, there are a number of ways that it can be used to support the development of new business. Neither the Internet nor video is likely to replace other marketing and communications activities, but rather will complement them while possibly allowing a company and its representatives to reach a wider universe of potential clients.  Some of the most common uses for video among financial services firms are brand building, product introduction and process explanation, as described in Figure 1.

Despite the rapid democratization of technology, business-oriented videos are not substantially different than they were 10 or even 20 years ago. Most companies, especially those in the financial services sector, opt for the straightforward “talking head” approach that emulates mainstream news programs, featuring a professional speaking directly into a camera or being interviewed. The majority of firms that use this approach believe it conveys the gravity of the subject matter and the extensive expertise of the featured professional and, as a result, are hesitant to try anything different. New analysis of viewer engagement shows that the impact of this approach is waning and, unless the subject matter or presentation is highly appealing or unique, will be of limited use moving forward.

Effectiveness And Differentiation
This same analysis also shows that the following qualities are increasingly necessary to ensure high levels of customer engagement:
• The video focuses on one central idea or concept.
• It is concise with a clear message and call to action.
• It has high production values, often including digital effects.
• It has and/or inspies emotion (e.g., humor, fear, compassion).
• It has extraordinary substance and delivery of content.

When addressing topics of greater complexity, a hierarchical, modular framework will allow viewers to expand and engage at their own pace—which is essential for self-directed or casual viewers. Combining two or more of the aforementioned qualities can be exceedingly effective and will likely become the standard for professional video content in the future.

Given the preference for conservative packaging within the financial services community, the skillful use of digital effects is likely to offer the greatest opportunity for differentiation. While these types of elements and enhancements are added in postproduction, they are most effective when conceptualized and integrated into the overall presentation from the start, allowing them to play a meaningful role in constructing, communicating and reinforcing the message.

Video is evolving rapidly; it is embraced by younger generations and digitally oriented consumers and holds great potential for creative marketing and business development professionals who want to explore new methods of communicating and engaging with prospects and clients. To fully realize the business development power of video, it’s important that financial companies move beyond the current approach and create new materials that are thoughtfully designed, highly visual and well produced. Like advertising, brochures and other traditional marketing activities, videos will most often be used to accomplish the same objectives—say brand building or product demonstrations—and should be considered a component of an overarching strategy of integrated initiatives.

Video has already assumed a more vital role in the public personas of most businesses and can be especially important in the wealth management arena, where trust, chemistry and rapport between a practitioner and his or her client are as important as technical competence.