The case for curiosity as a marketing strategy

What do Kentucky Fried Chicken and financial advisers have in common? Curious, are you? Well, therein lies the answer: curiosity.

Our brains are hardwired to recognize patterns. When something doesn’t fit in, we instantly notice it and are keen to investigate.

Sure, curiosity killed the cat and satisfaction brought him back. But when it comes to your advisory firm brand, the reverse is true.

Satisfied clients are great for business, but what’s stopping them from switching to one of your competitors? Curiosity can help you stand out, retain customers and win the attention of prospects.

Big brands are known for using curiosity to their advantage. Through campaigns that are unusual for their brand or industry (think car insurance commercials), they employ big budgets to capture the attention of prospects and customers alike. But can financial advisers do the same thing? Here’s how you can use curiosity to your advantage.


Back to fried chicken for a minute. KFC turned a chicken crisis into a creative, curiosity-evoking campaign. In February 2018, a deal between KFC restaurants in the UK and a new delivery firm was to blame for inaccurate, late and at times nonexistent deliveries of chicken. Almost 900 KFC restaurants were forced to close as a result.

But the brand didn’t totally strike out. A couple of days later, in an award-winning advertising campaign, KFC took out large color ads in two of the most widely read newspapers in the UK. Its recognizable chicken bucket displayed a new arrangement of its normal three-letter name: “FCK.”

This was a bold — even jarring — statement from KFC. The accompanying message apologized for the chicken catastrophe and assured customers the company was resupplying its restaurants with fresh chicken.

The stores eventually reopened, and KFC saw an increase in traffic, positive impressions and recognition from running this campaign.

Breaking out of your brand’s usual programming helps break through the attention barriers of customers and prospects. They’re used to seeing the same old, familiar, ordinary advertising — especially if you’re in a more traditional industry such as financial advising. Unique ads and messages break through their mental filter though by piquing curiosity and attention.

Let’s bring this closer to home with a financial adviser example.

While working with an advisory firm on their marketing strategy, I noticed that every ad they placed in the local community magazine featured the same kind of artwork as their competitors: pictures of older couples riding bikes, sitting by the pool or playing tennis. Even noncompeting companies were using the same type of images because they were in a retirement community. All the ads and articles blurred together because everything looked the same. Few things are more unoriginal than the advertising in a retiree lifestyle magazine.

To help this client stand out in a supersaturated publication, we designed an ad that was completely upside down — literally. Of course there was a point to it. The man in the ad had just leapt out of an airplane and was skydiving for the first time. It was a bucket list item for him, and good financial planning was what empowered him to live the retirement of his dreams, as the ad copy explained.

It was different from any other picture in the magazine, so naturally readers paused on that page. And the client received phone calls from prospects because of the creative approach we took to getting their firm noticed.


Curiosity is a compelling force, if executed correctly. You must be brave enough to break out of the mold first. Followers receive far less attention, because you’re back to square one, blending in with those who came before you.

A 2017 survey of business owners by marketing research firm Learn Inbound proved the lack of effectiveness as a copycat. Even though many business owners admitted to using marketing ideas from competitors (67%), the success of those campaigns was dismal (75%).

If you’re sitting on an idea, don’t wait until someone else breaks the mold. If you follow in someone else’s footsteps, your execution won’t be nearly as successful.

Being the first to do something, especially something that’s so different than what’s expected or what you’ve always done, can – and should – feel uncomfortable. But soon others will notice your success and start to copy you.

This will lead everyone back into a saturated pool of sameness, though. The solution? You must consistently innovate and find unique ways to spark curiosity. This is all too familiar in the financial industry. I’ve seen new movements and trends pick up steam and become mainstream in just a few months. When “fiduciary” came onto the scene in the early 2000s, it wasn’t long before every adviser added it to their value proposition.

One good idea or trend isn’t enough to keep your customers and prospects curious. You have to consistently create unique ways to engage them.

And this requires you to tap into your creative thinking. Being creative is more than catching lightning in a bottle once. Observe what catches your eye when you scroll social media or flip through a magazine. Take a screenshot or photo and save it in what we in the marketing world call a “swipe file” – a folder of marketing examples you want to emulate.

This is different from the copycats I mentioned earlier. You’re merely collecting inspiration. You know what tactics work for companies in different industries, and you can be the first to bring it to your industry.

This will help you stay ahead of your competition – of the copycats. You can lead the pack. If you’re brave enough to stand out, sure, you’ll be met with your share of puzzled looks and skepticism, but you’ll also gain attention and new clients.

[More: A tale of two advisers, and why boldness wins]

Robert Sofia is the CEO of the digital marketing firm Snappy Kraken.

The post The case for curiosity as a marketing strategy appeared first on InvestmentNews.

Andrew is half-human, half-gamer. He’s also a science fiction author writing for BleeBot.

Andrew Vincent
Andrew is half-human, half-gamer. He's also a science fiction author writing for BleeBot.
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