The Art of Engaging Clients: Do More with Less

Posted by Kristine McManus

February 26, 2019 at 10:00 AM

engaging clientsCommonwealth’s nationwide network of financial advisors often call me wanting to do more. Should they target a particular market for prospects, start a social media campaign, or redo their website? Perhaps create a radio show, cultivate centers of influence, or host a client appreciation event? How do they go about engaging clients? Sometimes, they send me marketing calendars, jam-packed with activities, and ask for feedback.

All of these individual activities, of course, offer great opportunities for growth. So, advisors are usually shocked when I tell them I don’t necessarily want them to do more. In fact, it’s likely I will want them to do less.

Why? Because based on my thousands of interactions with advisors, I’ve learned that many are great at coming up with ideas—but only fair to middling at capturing the desired outcome. And that’s important to understand. The last thing you want to do is spend time, money, and energy on client-facing activities and then not reap the benefits.

So, before you add any new activity to your marketing or business development calendar, be sure you are gaining all the impact you can from what you’re already doing.

Attention Must Be Paid . . . to Phone Calls and E-Mails?

Boring! That’s not what you wanted to think about at all, is it? So not sexy. But I bet you have far more interactions with people via phone and e-mail than anything else, so it makes sense to give this careful thought. If you need reasons to make it a priority, consider the following:

  • A study by Financial Advisor magazine reveals that out of the top five reasons clients fire their advisors, three center on communication issues, with a “failure to return their phone calls promptly” ranking third.
  • According to the Spectrem Group study The Affluent Investor, four of the top five behaviors that matter to clients have to do with communication, including proactive contact, timely responses to e-mails, and returning phone calls topping the list.

You probably know these are important, but my guess is you didn’t realize they were that important. Do you currently have service standards that you commit to and discuss with clients? If so, be sure your team knows what they are and why you set them. (If not, gain input from your team and put a plan in place—quickly.)

Spruce Up Your E-Mail Subject Lines

Like many advisors, you probably share timely economic updates and videos with your clients. This is important in keeping them informed of events that could impact their portfolios, while also showing that you’re proactively monitoring their situation. And yet far too many advisors kill all interest in this content by sharing it with a subject line that reads—and I quote—“Here’s your monthly economic update.” You can do better than that! Make it compelling. Would you rather read “Economic Update” or something titled “Inflation Concerns, 200-Day Trend Lines, and Why This Volatility Isn’t Normal”?

Make Your Content Matter

In the same vein, once you’ve captured someone’s attention with your subject line, make sure your content is exciting enough to read. To quote an overused (but true) phrase, “Content is king”; it can convey your brand, highlight your expertise, and help prospects engage with you. When you post something to your website or social media, or send it to clients via e-mail, you’re basically saying that you’ve got good information you want to share with people. Think of that as your push.

But to really engage people, you also need to pull them in. At Commonwealth, we provide a tremendous amount of content our advisors can leverage in different ways, but they still have to curate it. Likewise, there are myriad articles published online every day that may resonate with your clients. Pull out a few facts to highlight for them. Mentioning the social security cost-of-living increase might encourage retirees to read on to learn more about claiming strategies, or discussing how small business owners could be the big winners of tax reform might better engage that audience. Or simply say why you chose a particular post for social media: “As a millennial myself, this article on why millennials find it so hard to save really hit home.”

If you’ve ever written a case study or an article or been quoted in a publication, be sure both your clients and prospects know about it. Post the article or link to your website, add it to LinkedIn and other social media, and proactively send it out to clients in an e-mail. Don’t assume clients will hear about it on their own—they won’t. Any original content or article quoting you should be leveraged to the hilt so your time creating it is well spent.

Make the Most of Client Events

Client events offer great (and fun!) opportunities for growth. Recent research from the Oechsli Institute (Best Practices of Today’s Elite Advisors) shows that 84 percent of clients who have both a personal and business relationship with an advisor are happy to refer their advisor to others, so making time to talk outside the office is key.

But what kinds of events are best at engaging clients? There’s no one answer here, as advisors have held everything from seminars and workshops to fly-fishing and kayak lessons, wine tastings and cooking classes, ballroom dancing, and picnics. The key to the success of such gatherings is carefully thinking through who you’d really like to attend. If you mostly work with retirees, what do they like to do? What would appeal to business owners or families? The event you hold should reflect both your clients’ interests and your own, so don’t hold a wine event if you don’t drink wine yourself.

An often overlooked (and simple) way to boost your impact from an event is by taking photographs. Photos! I want you to take pictures at your event and then use them. It’s frustrating when advisors tell me they took great photos of their event but didn’t share them afterward. Even worse is when advisors hosted a wonderful event but never thought to take a photo. When you do get great photos, you can use them in many ways.

  • Send them to clients after your event with a thank you—perhaps one of your photos goes on a refrigerator or bulletin board, where others might see it. You want your name coming up in conversation, don’t you?
  • As quickly as possible, e-mail them to clients who participated in your event (ideally, only photos they look great in). While there’s no guarantee, they might post the photos on Facebook, another opportunity for you to be in front of their circle of friends.
  • In addition, you can showcase the photos on your website and post them on your own LinkedIn and company Facebook pages. You will double or triple your impact from the event, without it costing you a penny more.

Engaging clients doesn’t have to be difficult. These ideas to gain more impact from things you are already doing can be easily implemented in just about every practice. By changing just a few simple things, you could capture better results without any additional strain on time or money. Talk about boosting your efficiency and productivity!

Have you struggled to find ways to better engage your clients? What do you think of the ideas I’ve shared here? Which will you try next? Please comment below!

Strategies for Targeting Organic Growth

Topics: Marketing

   
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