Communication is vital to any relationship, and studies have found that many clients who leave their financial advisor do so not because their investments didn’t perform as expected, but because their advisor didn’t communicate enough with them.
When you have timely, consistent communication with clients about information that applies to them, such as tax law changes or breaking market news, you help build your credibility and, in turn, your clients’ trust in you. Sure, they can find similar information through their preferred news outlet, but getting a message directly from you is more personalized and meaningful.
But wait, you say. My business isn’t a newsroom; how can I possibly deliver this news and still have time to be an advisor? It’s easier than you think, though you do have to make this level of communication a priority to do it right. Ready to give it a try? Let’s review four credibility marketing strategies for staying current with your clients.
1) Keep Up with Industry Trends
In order to provide your clients with timely—and relevant—content, you need to know what’s happening in the world at large. One way to keep your finger on the pulse of current events is to follow news and media outlets online. For instance, you (or one of your staff members) might check the headlines on the websites of CNN Money, Forbes, and U.S. News & World Report each day. In addition, I would recommend following some of these trade and national publications on Twitter for trending topics that may affect you or your clients:
- InvestmentNews (@newsfromIN)
- Financial Planning (@finplan)
- RIABiz (@RIABiz)
- ThinkAdvisor (@ThinkAdvisor)
- Financial Advisor IQ (@FinAd_IQ)
- MarketWatch (@MarketWatch)
- Financial Adviser (@FANewsdesk)
- Real Time Economics (@WSJecon)
- Bloomberg Markets (@markets)
- Cheddar (@cheddar)
- CNBC Now (@CNBCnow)
With these outlets showing up in your feed, you can easily retweet articles to your followers and provide your own insight into the topic at hand. It’s a fast and easy way to reach your base and attract new followers. To improve trending, try adding a hashtag to your posts (e.g., #TaxLawChanges).
To help our affiliated advisors supplement their social media content, Commonwealth’s Advisor Marketing team provides daily preapproved posts on topics ranging from personal finance, to travel, to education, and more.
2) Take Advantage of Existing Content
Your RIA–broker/dealer firm may provide additional content in the form of articles or newsletters, which you can send to your existing and prospective clients. Or, you might consider subscribing to a newsletter service, such as Integrated Concepts Group or Advisor Products, which provides templated and/or customizable content on a periodic basis.
At Commonwealth, we support our advisors by providing weekly, monthly, and quarterly updates on the markets and economy, as well as articles addressing breaking news—such as market declines and new tax regulations.
The only real downside to using existing content is that it’s generally not going to be in your voice or reflect your brand. Which is why we encourage firms to develop their own content as often as possible.
3) Develop a Communication Template
Sharing existing posts and market commentary with clients is one thing, but what if you want to send your own longer-form communication? How can you do that as quickly and efficiently as possible? By developing a template that you can follow for all communications. Start by answering:
- To whom are you reaching out?
- Why are you reaching out?
- What information do you want to share?
Who? You may want to vary your message depending on your audience, so outlining the segment your target clients fall into is important. Are they novice or sophisticated investors? Are they just starting to plan for retirement or already retired? If your content focuses on retirement planning, you don’t want to include your 65-year-old clients in the distribution list. One size definitely does not fit all.
This holds true for your delivery method as well. Will you be using social media, e-mail, direct mail, or even the telephone? Again, this should coincide with your audience’s preferred method of communication. At the same time, though, it’s best practice to also include an area on your website where you house news and information for both clients and prospects to access.
Once you’ve defined your audience by segment, create a distribution list. You don’t need to wait until you’ve defined your content to do this. By establishing your distribution list in advance, you can send your content out immediately when it’s ready to go.
Why? It’s not enough that you want to share information—you need to think about why it’s important for clients or prospects to know this information. It could be that you know they are starting to save for a child’s education needs, and you want them to know that 529 plans can now be used to cover K–12 tuition. Or, you might want to remind your retiree clients who are turning 70½ this year that they will need to take a required minimum distribution from their retirement accounts. Whatever the case may be, you want to demonstrate that you have their financial well-being in mind.
What? Your template should reflect your brand, tone, and voice, so there’s no mistaking who is responsible for delivering the content. Be engaging and conversational, add some colorful (and appropriate) images, and include headings (e.g., “Special Update”) to help break up the content and guide the reader’s eye.
Best practice is to personalize the copy to make the reader feel you are talking directly to him or her. In other words, don’t talk about “investors” or “clients,” but rather “you” and “your family.” This can go a long way in helping your clients feel that they have selected the right advisor to work with. They aren’t a number or a generalization, but a person who matters.
4) Create a Content Calendar for the Year—and Stick to It
As I mentioned, when investors don’t receive the level of communication they expect from their advisor, they are more likely to search for another who will meet their needs. So it’s important to make a commitment to regular, consistent communication with clients.
To this point, we’ve talked about how to capitalize on timely content. But you shouldn’t wait for a headline to break or a new regulation to be released in order to communicate with your clients. Instead, determine how often you want to touch base with your clients—daily, weekly, biweekly, monthly? With social media, perhaps it’s daily (at the very least a few times a week), and for e-mail or newsletters, it’s monthly.
Next, start mapping out the topics you would like to cover during the year, such as tax planning, estate planning, cybersecurity (especially during National Cybersecurity Awareness Month in October), end-of-year planning, and even important holidays. Plug these dates into your content calendar, and set up a system to remind you and your staff when new material is due. (Make sure you build in enough time to draft the copy!)
As you send out new content—in particular, articles and newsletters—you should also maintain a library of this material on your website, so clients and prospects can access it easily. This gives the perception that you are well versed in what’s going on in the marketplace. Further, it gives you an easy place to link to in social media posts to help drive traffic to your site.
A Foundation for Long-Term Success
After reading about these various possible credibility marketing strategies, if you take away only one lesson from this article, I hope it is to be consistent. Consistent communication with clients—even if it’s only e-mail or only social media—will help to boost your trustworthiness with clients, which is the foundation on which successful long-term relationships are built.
What credibility marketing strategies have you tried at your firm? Have you established a plan for consistent communication with clients? Please share your thoughts with us below!