The halo effect describes how people make judgements about others based on unrelated factors.
People will often make judgements such as how trustworthy a person is based on their physical appearance, which likely plays no role in defining whether they are of honest character or not.
The halo effect isn't just related to people.
In 2011, the Wall Street Journal described how the 'cool' persona of Steve Jobs was responsible for increasing the sales of Apple products.
The same goes for your website. People make assumptions quickly and it’s no surprise that people will make a judgement about your business based on how your website looks.
These judgements will influence the visitor's buying decision.
What's also important to note is that many visitors probably come to your website with a reasonable degree of scepticism; advisers are rarely painted in glowing colours by the media.
Your site visitor is probably looking for chinks in the armour rather than opportunities to accelerate their financial planning journey.
So if people doubt you as they approach your website, what can you do to prove that you are trustworthy?
Be open, honest and transparent
Don't dress up your service to be something it isn't.
Be clear on what the client can expect - a section on 'what to expect' will do this!
Talk about your fees and the types of clients you work best with, and those you don't.
Demonstrate humanity and empathy
Use video and real stories to convey a very human message - your visitor needs to feel that you understand them.
Talk about some of the challenges and issues related to financial planning, not just the upsides.
What about when things go wrong, markets fall or there's a breakdown in relationships?
Write copy that has a relaxed, accessible and friendly tone.
Use social proof
Whether this is your Vouchedfor rating, testimonials or client videos, third party recognition of your services is hugely important.
It's even more compelling if your visitors recognise themselves in those providing this reassurance (a particularly important reason for using client videos).
Studies have shown that we favour testimonials from those in a similar position to ourselves.
Look good - design matters
Design plays a critical role in the visitor's perception of value.
A Travelodge and boutique country hotel both offer bed and breakfast, but they look very different. Those wanting a better experience would always choose the latter.
In almost all cases, the boutique hotel presents itself better in a design sense and can charge a premium for this.
If you want to attract clients who generate higher levels of revenue for the business, you have to look like the best in the market.
We know that prospects are increasingly shopping around online to find the right financial planner, even where they’ve been referred to a firm.
Creating the halo effect is about an outcome that is greater than the sum of the parts.
For those firms looking to grow, it's important to focus on all those parts to ensure your website is attractive and compelling enough for your future clients.