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I guess I really can’t speak for other industries or professions but I shouldn’t be surprised at the lack of true understanding people generally have when it comes to wealth creation when the industry that promotes it regularly seems so clueless.

Like many industries, Financial Services has its own “industry publications” which I feel somewhat compelled to read (at least some of them) in order to keep abreast of “industry issues”.  Not surprisingly, these often include articles from various experts on different investment themes which “warrant deeper consideration”.  Apparently they’re an important part of building your profile, so if you find yourself needing to knock one out at some stage, the following guide may be useful.

How to Write an Expert Advertisement Article
It’s important to remember that throughout the “article” you want the reader’s mind focused on understanding what you’re saying, not why you’re saying it.  You can’t lead their thoughts to your preferred conclusion if they start thinking independently. Correlation is the key here, you want to show a clear relationship, or lack of, so line graphs are perfect.  Don’t, under any circumstances discuss why these things might or might not be actually linked (causality), this will move the reader’s mind from “comprehend” mode into “analysis” mode and give them a chance to work out it’s all garbage, or worst still, their being set up for a sales pitch.

Obviously you need to start off with a catchy headline, something which challenges the status quo is always good, something like, “The new rules of investing”, “Why doing XYZ no longer works” etc – we need to get readers attention after all.  It helps if the author has a good title “Chief Investment Officer”, “Head of Strategy” or the like and a couple of qualifications always help – “Dr” is always a nice touch.

Then we need to start detailing what was wrong before, how the old ways no longer work or simply reminding readers how this or that “failed”.  Generally you don’t need a lot of detail here, in fact the less the better as we want to give the impression that whatever the premise, it’s so obvious and well understood we don’t need to explain in any detail, it’s a given.  (If you give the reader a chance to think about it they may just realise it’s all rubbish and we can’t lose them this early).

Next we need to look at some analysis of why something that might seem linked actually isn’t and from here you can take your pick – some of my favourites include “total sharemarket returns and inflation”, “economic growth and market returns” is another good one, or there’s always “Shares versus Bonds” for the more investment focused.  Once you’ve picked your mark you then need to produce a whole heap of line graphs – and remember the trick – show correlations between your two measures.  Make sure you use a couple of different periods, sample sizes or datasets to make it look like a comprehensive and detailed analysis.  Graphs are great because as a picture they have impact and they’re easy to follow. Most importantly they can clearly show what you want them to – “see the lines move together”, or “see how they don’t”.

Now you can point to your graph and highlight in detail how it supports your view and does so in each graph.  Make sure you focus on the one that best shows support to really drive home your point.  Remember the golden rule of line graphs, “pick the right start point and time period”. Oh, and make sure you use data from well known, credible sources such as the Reserve Bank, Bloomberg or major research houses.  This will help with what marketers call “brand association” – i.e. the credibility of these brands reinforces your authority. In the reader’s mind, if the data is from a reliable source, the lines must be true and by extension, what they are showing must also be true,

Now that you’ve established your point (and demonstrated your credibility and how smart you are), all that remains is to provide the obvious solution to this problem, i.e. whatever it is you actually sell.  See how “inflation linked bonds would be better than (whatever you’ve said isn’t good), and why they should be included in investment portfolios”, or whatever else you want to sell.

And you’re done.  Point made, product positioned and authority as an expert established all in one foul swoop.  Don’t worry about whether the data has anything to do with the purpose you’re using it for, if you’ve constructed your article properly it’s unlikely most readers will take the time to even think about it – you gave them a picture to help bypass the need for detailed understanding and besides, most people don’t really understand math well enough to work it out anyway, so do you really think they will be bothered?

Of course you do run the risk of some over-analysing type actually taking the time to work out what you’re saying and what complete unsubstantiated rubbish it is.  You know as well as she does that correlation is not causation but most people either don’t, or forget easily so the odds are well in your favour.  Besides you’re the expert, that’s why it’s you in the magazine, not them and who listens to these nerdy analyst types anyway?  Alternatively you provide some actual analysis and try and increase the collective wisdom but deep down you know that this will show that nothing’s really changed and the rules are still the rules.  Not exactly exciting, engaging material and virtually impossible to sell something new based on that………..

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Matt Battye

Matt Battye

CEO, Financial Adviser

Analysing what can seem to be like complex issues, Matt is effective in using analogies to better explain scenarios and truths to the rest of us. This is what Matt enjoys – educating clients on the truths and debunking the commonly held (wrong) view.

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