Even robo-investing can be human with a good story

I’ll admit it: every now and then, I come across messaging on a website that makes me jealous I didn’t write it myself.

Like this about page from Wealthfront, a leader in robo-investing and financial planning. Despite how inhuman (and a little scary to me) “robo-investing” sounds, the copy on that page is a shining example of how to put your customer at the heart of your own story.

While many “About Us” pages feature chronological histories, uptight mission statements or glib manifestos, Wealthfront tells a bigger story that speaks to their customer’s hopes and fears.

Instead of telling you they’re disrupting the financial industry, they show you why it needs to happen. And it’s utterly convincing.

Here are a few reasons:


1. Wealthfront names your villain — the financial industry — and positions itself as your ally

This is an awesome start to the page. Instead of talking about themselves, or saying something lame like “we’re here to help you thrive financially,” Wealthfront zooms out on the bigger reality: the status quo in financial services isn’t serving you. In fact, it’s hurting you.

The subhead evokes the little thought we all have in the back of our mind when faced with an expensive price tag or quote: wouldn’t this be way better and cheaper if I could do this myself?

In this opening section, Wealthfront deftly positions itself as different from the rest of the financial industry. Even though they’re a part of it.


2. Wealthfront says what you’re probably thinking

A classic rule of conversion copywriting is to “join the conversation happening in your prospect’s mind.” That means, instead of trying to force your agenda in the first breath, your messaging should meet your prospect where they’re at and go from there.

Wealthfront could have launched into how their algorithm is cheaper than hiring a financial advisor and more reliable than doing it yourself. But instead, they reflect the hidden fears, suspicions, and emotions people have when trying to decide what to do with their investments.

It’s funny – marketing-wise, the financial industry is traditionally the most buttoned-up. And yet, money is one of the most emotionally-charged things out there. Everyone views their own money with a giant bag of hopes and fears — Wealthfront isn’t afraid to call them out.


3. Wealthfront deftly addresses other negative perceptions

After calling out what’s wrong with the industry, Wealthfront tells a cute story about how the founders came together. It’s wonderfully approachable…and clever.

Like the line above: “Dan thought VCs were [bleep]…He wasn’t about to sell out.”

Wealthfront is up against all kinds of negative associations (whether true or false):

  • A startup that puts high growth before its customers
  • Investors who just want to get rich
  • “The Man”

So when they admit that even their co-founder is skeptical of “money guys,” I’m feeling like Wealthfront is on my side. They’ve done a great job of taking on the negative perceptions of their industry, without saying something weird like “you can trust us.”


Brand storytelling really can be human

I meet a lot of tech founders and product marketers who want their company to sound more human because their messaging is too technical and feature-driven.

I tell them the answer doesn’t lie in dumbing down your features or finding a cute brand voice. It’s in telling a clear and compelling story about your customer that acknowledges their needs, hopes and fears. Like Wealthfront does.

Once you’re clear on what your customer values, the story often writes itself.


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