Birthday calls, holiday greetings, anniversary cards, client appreciation events, client reviews, monthly newsletters, and don’t forget every other random act of outreach in between.
If you’re an advisor reading this list, you’re already overwhelmed – and for good reason. It could remind you a little of your current situation. The mess created from this “shoot from the hip” approach becomes the very thing that prevents your team from defining an awesomely effective and proactive client communication strategy. It also isn’t a scalable way to address one of the most important elements of your business growth: building and maintaining high-touch relationships.
So how do you make sense of your current jumbled strategy, simplify your plan, and become more proactive? Do a little spring cleaning by following these three S’s:
The first “s” in this process consists of achieving personalization and scale. There are countless ways to interact with your clients in the modern era, but with ever-rising consumer expectations the real question becomes, “How do you personalize your communication to each client’s needs while also maintaining scale and saving time?” The answer: segment your client base and do so very intentionally with defined levels of contact frequency and communication style.
Segmentation allows you to isolate the characteristics of your ideal client and better understand who they are. Sadly, most advisors haven’t even made it to that point of clarity. Defining characteristics could include higher revenue, profitability, likability, reference‐ability, engagement, and even traits like loyalty. Think of what drives value in your firm and recognize what is most important to you prior to this process.
Avoid the temptation to use asset or revenue levels as the primary driver for each category. While this is one of the main criteria for ranking your clients, you should also incorporate other factors such as referral generation, share of wallet, intergenerational connectivity, and spouse engagement. However you decide to segment, remember it should never result in delivering poor service to any client. Rather, this process is about providing a differentiated experience.
After you have more clarity about who falls into one segmented group versus another, you must consider how each group best responds to ongoing communication. What channels or avenues tend to be most successful with your clients? Do they respond more favorably to one method over another? And how does this align with your ability to deliver a tiered service model with each segment? Define the touchpoints and communication of each client segment so you’re better able to establish accurate expectations of each service offering and, if nothing else, encourage your clients to move up the ladder, if possible.
Focus on outreach, content, and correspondence that delivers the most value in each segment. Value that is thoughtful, heartfelt, and unexpected. Monthly newsletters, for example, aren’t always the best use of your firm’s time and talent because content on professional topics and generic financial advice can be found anywhere, from nearly any content provider. Reinvent your strategy to incorporate more meaningful touchpoints and less of the generic fluff most clients are used to seeing. For example, instead of sending a generic card for your client’s anniversary, send them a high-end BBQ sauce in advance of the July 4th holiday weekend. Both are very small gestures, but one goes much farther in the eyes of your client.
As you define your service level offerings – and how to differentiate one from the other – don’t think of your communication plan as a linear process. View it as a holistic strategy. One that encompasses various elements of the client-advisor relationship, from email and printed brochures to open house events, videos, RAKS, presentations, and personal phone calls. The more creative your outreach, the more impactful your efforts will be to staying top of mind.
Finally, it’s time for the rubber to meet the road. This is where the strategy you’ve outlined comes to life. Systems and processes are the linchpin to execution. Schedule a meeting with your team, lay out the strategy you’ve envisioned for each tier, and discuss how to systematize these interactions so your team isn’t wasting time all year being reactive and inefficient. Leverage automated processes within your CRM to remind your team of important touchpoints and action items. Notify print vendors of order quantities for certain deliverables. Clarify roles for each individual on the team so everyone is aware of their role in the process and how they contribute to executing this experience. Without standardized systems and processes a multi-tiered communication strategy will drown. Think through every detail of every touchpoint. While this may be time-consuming at first, it will pay off exponentially in the long run and will keep your team motivated to execute on what has been spelled out.
No matter where you fall in the grand scheme of establishing a holistic communication strategy, know that an equal balance between all three of these S’s is needed to execute an awesomely effective plan. Coaching thousands of advisors over the last few decades has taught us one fundamental truth in kick-starting initiatives like this one: you drastically overestimate what you can do when looking ahead – and completely underestimate what you are doing now. Keep this mind when rolling out your communication strategy. Put the proper thought and preparation into doing this right the first time, and understand the breadth and depth of what you’re looking to accomplish.
To help you get the ball rolling today download our free tool, The Client Contact Breakdown, which is a template designed to serve as a starting point. Use the template for ideas on various touchpoints and communication channels and create a strategy of your own that aligns with the needs of your client base.
The most successful advisors in our profession convey the right message at the right time, while delivering the unexpected in new ways. Surprise your clients. Wow them with your personalized approach. And see your business bloom. THAT is what spring is all about.