What the “Teen Wolf of Wallstreet” Teaches Us About Investing

If you haven’t been glued to your television or computer, you may have missed the viral story about the high-school student so unaccountably good at picking stocks that he made $72 million investing before he turned 18. 

News outlets leapt on the story as proof that someone with the right mix of smarts, courage, and can-do spirit can outwit markets and make a killing. It’s a compelling story that draws attention and gets the clicks websites need to keep advertisers happy.

The only problem? The story wasn’t true. The two high schoolers responsible for the ridiculous tale shamefacedly admitted that the story was a complete fabrication. In fact, the two had never invested so much as a dollar in the stock market.

Anyone who had bothered to run the numbers behind the outlandish story would have realized that unless the boys had started with millions of dollars, they would have had to return several hundred percent per year to see the kind of result they were claiming.

There’s obviously a journalism lesson to be had here as well: check your facts. Don’t swallow stories whole. It’s clear that both the journalist and her editors skipped past the fact checking stage in pursuit of a great story.

However, the greater lesson is for investors: there are no magic tricks or secret strategies that will result in riches. Don’t be lured in by the next Bernie Madoff who promises guaranteed returns with no risk. Don’t get sucked by the investing “guru” who promises to teach you the investing secrets of the ultra-rich. There are no secrets.

On Standing Out….

David Ogilvy, known as “The Father of Advertising,” has this to say about marketing:

“There isn’t any significant difference between the various brands of whiskey, or cigarettes or beer. They are all about the same. And so are the cake mixes and the detergents, and the margarines… The manufacturer who dedicates his advertising to building the most sharply defined personality for his brand will get the largest share of the market at the highest profit.” (Emphasis mine).

What does that mean for marketing your financial services? Don’t be afraid to stand out, carve out a niche, or stake your identity. Ultimately, you probably have the same products, services, and major differentiators as everyone else. If your marketing sounds like everyone else, you’ll get lost in the noise.

Using Case Studies to Get New Business

Case studies are a great way to illustrate how your product or services have helped clients solve specific problems or meet particular needs. Case studies are especially effective for persuading buyers who are on the fence about purchasing or those clients who may need examples of your product in the wild.

Chances are that many of your clients or buyers share certain similarities. Developing case studies around each of your major client type will give you a powerful arsenal of tools to persuade new clients to buy. If you’re branching out in a new direction, a case study can show your ability to deliver.

Some of these big name companies use case studies as part of their marketing strategies.

Case studies can be thought of as in-depth testimonials from clients who are really happy with your product or service.  They are usually made up of several sections:

  • Overview of the client’s business;
  • Description of the problem or need;
  • Explanation of how your product or service was a good fit for their needs;
  • Results of their successful implementation;
  • Tasty quotes describing their experience while purchasing as well as any obstacles they overcame (price, ususally);

Writing a case study involves interviewing an existing

As it happens, case studies are one of my specialties. If you’re interested in adding some cases to your website or presentation package, contact me with your ideas and we’ll work together on a strategy.