Marketing and communication are crucial now
My friend and business mentor, Laura Belgray, told me that whenever her and her husband mention Coronavirus, they sing it to the tune of My Sharona, a catchy hit from 1979.
I really hate her for that, because now I’m doing it too. (I’ve linked to the song at the end of this piece – whatever you do, don’t listen to it).
What’s this got to do with marketing you and your business in these challenging times?
It’s a great lesson in standing out and being memorable. You see, Laura Belgray is one of the world’s best copywriters and I read about this singing ritual in one of her weekly emails.
Is Laura politically correct?
Is she memorable?
In a time of Coronavirus, your marketing challenge is no different to any other time. You’ve got to get your message out, and you’ve got to cut through the noise of everything else that’s going on in people’s lives right now.
What’s likely to do that?
Not another safe, boring post about “these challenging times” (I’m sort of dry retching right now, because I’ve used that expression twice already in this article).
Maybe creating visual images of yourself puking isn’t in your top 10 ideas on how to grab your reader’s attention. But it’s better than resorting to tired cliche, like almost every other Coronavirus update email I receive right now.
You’ll need to know how far you can push it with your own client base. Juvenile humour might not be appropriate in a lot of cases, but whatever you say, it better get your reader’s attention.
It’s important, not just for your clients, but for your business too. It’d be great if some of your messaging got shared by your clients with their friends, work-mates, or extended family (wouldn’t it?). Then you’ve killed two birds with one stone. You’ve communicated strongly and memorably with your own clients and you’ve generated a follow on marketing win at the same time.
Last week I wrote a turnaround plan for any financial planning businesses that are under some pressure right now. (You can read it here). One of the most important aspects of that plan is communicating and marketing effectively to your clients, but also to new prospective ones.
Here are a few ideas for you:
1. Send a video message
One adviser I know has sent a short video message to all of her clients providing explanation, context and reassurance. I love the idea of a short video as it lets people see the whites of your eyes and that you’re feeling confident and in control. It also sends a powerful visual message that you’re still here and haven’t run for the hills. It demonstrates leadership. It’s also easy for your clients to forward to a friend or colleague.
2. Communicate regularly
I recommend communicating with your clients regularly during this period. It’s a Coronavirus news deluge right now. I know it’s important, and I know everyone is a little bit concerned, but how boring is it? I can’t even default to the sport section in the news. THERE ISN’T ANY SPORT! It’s all been cancelled; everywhere, across the whole world. (agghh!). So what can you communicate about? An adviser I know who works with professional people (mostly Dentists) has discovered his clients are not worried at all about the recent market falls and their plummeting portfolio values. What are they concerned about? Their families, first and foremost. And their businesses have all been shut down, too. How did he discover that important piece of market research? He phoned them. He was ready to talk “all-things-falling-investment-values”, but discovered after a few calls that it wasn’t on their mind. This is hugely valuable information isn’t it? Now he knows not to send the usual trail of “this is well within the bounds of normal for a market crash or correction” type emails.
He can write better communications to his clients by addressing their actual feelings and concerns. Chris Daems at Cervello Financial Planning runs a regular podcast (The Kindness Project) which, in a recent edition, talked about all the random acts of kindness he’s seeing in his community at the moment. It’s a lovely, inspiring communication that sets him apart from the run-of the-mill financial planner and taps into the zeitgeist. (I’ve waited ten years to use that word — zeitgeist — ‘appropriately’ in an article).
3. Pick up the phone
For your biggest clients; maybe your top 10, or 20 or 30, pick up the phone and call them personally. You’re just going to say what you’ve said in a lot of your email or video communications, but hearing your voice will be good. An adviser I work with in Ireland, called every single one of his clients on St Patrick’s day. (That’s memorable). He’s a great adviser who felt strongly that this is what people pay a premium price for – to receive that personal level of service when things get tough.
4. Hold a group call on Zoom
The same adviser I mentioned in point 1, who has sent the video to her clients, is also holding a group Zoom call for any and all clients who are concerned about the current situation. I’m assuming she’ll record the call too and send the recording out to clients as another communication (will you Jess?). That’ll hit everyone who couldn’t, or didn’t, dial in. The group Zoom call for clients is a great way of assuaging people’s fears in one big hit.
5. Take it up a notch
I thought you could also take the Zoom call idea up a notch and turn it into a marketing exercise. We know that in times like these, poor quality advisers stop communicating with their clients. This provides a great opportunity for people like you to hoover up a few of their best clients (yes, you can generate lots of new business in a market like this). Why not hold a group Zoom call as I outlined above, but make it open to everyone? I might do the very first Zoom call as a “clients-only” event. However, at the end of that client call, I’d announce that you’re going to be holding regular Zoom calls, just like this one, that are open to all comers (regardless of whether they’re a client or not). Holding this open call is a community service, which is nice to do and makes you and your brand look in tune with the current community spirit. However, it will also allow you to attract potential prospects for your business if their adviser is not stepping up to the mark.
The aim is to use your existing clients as your marketing megaphone. Do they have friends, other family members, or work colleagues who would value an open Zoom call with a reputable adviser? Almost certainly. I’d be holding these open Zoom calls once per month during our likely lockdown phase due to Coronavirus. I think it’s an event that could build an audience month by month. The first event might attract 10 people. The next month 20 people and the next month 40 or 50 (as an example). But you’ll have to market it hard. That should be to existing clients, as I said, and also to your professional connections. Give your accountants and solicitors a sample marketing email to send to their clients (don’t rely on them to write and send it themselves – they won’t). Get it out on your Social Media channels too. The message might be something like this: “I know markets are scary right now and I’ve been hearing that a lot of people are worried or concerned and might not be sure if they are getting the right advice from their adviser. Or maybe they don’t have an adviser and just want to check in with an expert. So, I’m running an open call on Zoom for anyone that has a question about what to do in the current market downturn. If you know anyone who might want to dial in, they can register here.” Provide a link and make sure you capture an email address and first name so you can build a marketing list on the back of this exercise. Some attendees will be potential prospects for you in the future.
It’s all to play for
Every adviser should be communicating and marketing hard right now. If your business is in great shape, the current climate is an opportunity to be more frequent and aggressive in attempting to “land-grab” the disaffected clients stuck with lesser advisers. If your business is hurting, then it’s even more important to be on the front foot with your marketing and communication efforts. You CAN attract new clients right now. As we all get used to being at home and settle into our new routines, there will be a space for high quality communication that addresses your target market’s biggest concerns. Always has been, always will be. Let me know how you go.
BRETT DAVIDSON is chief executive of FP Advance, a boutique consulting firm that specialises in working with growing and aspiring financial planning firms.
Here are a few previous articles that he's provided to Adviser 2.0:
Picture: Jason Rosewell via Unsplash