When I ask advisors how recent headlines are impacting their communications with clients, the typical response is, “My clients don’t care about Tesla or Bitcoin. They’re not focused on what people say on the Internet. They know we have a sound, long-term plan in place.”
I asked that question in March, when most of us went into mandatory lockdowns because of COVID-19, and again, a few weeks ago, when a mob stormed Congress and sent Washington, D.C. into chaos. I asked again yesterday, when a Reddit subgroup called r/WallStreetBets drove up the price of GameStop, AMC and Blackberry by nearly 1,000%, collectively, and eviscerated hedge funds across Wall Street.
But my question now is, if your clients aren’t engaging with you about the current events dominating news cycles and social media feeds, then who are they engaging with? Because they’re talking, listening and exchanging information with someone.
If we’ve learned one thing from the historic “run up” of GameStop or Bitcoin this month, it is: do not underestimate the power of social media. Don’t underestimate its ability to mobilize, organize, motivate and influence people. Don’t underestimate the power of online communities and the feeling of “being part of something greater than you.” The game has changed.
“My clients aren’t on social media” is no longer an excuse. If you’re truly building a sustainable, enduring business—and not just a lifestyle practice, then you absolutely have to be thinking of the client of the future.
And those clients are, in fact, the Gen-Z, Reddit-using, Robinhood-trading child of your very, best baby boomer clients. And chances are they are currently home, quarantined with those parents right now.
Before you start getting anxious about how you’re going to figure out TikTok and Instagram, know that you actually don’t need a complex social media campaign.
You simply need to do three things, really effectively moving forward.
- Know your clients.
- Develop a thought leader’s perspective.
- Systematize the way you communicate.
Understand Client Psychographics
You have to get to know or re-get to know your clients this year. Beyond their occupation, salary and kids’ names, you need to know where they spend their (digital) time, who they’re influenced by, where they get their news from and what type of content they consume. If you can’t gather this information directly from your clients’ social profiles and feed histories, ask them directly.
Client surveys and focus groups are great opportunities for you to thoughtfully—and intentionally ask clients questions that will help inform your inbound marketing strategies.
If it feels weird to start snooping on your clients’ Facebook pages, start by simply asking clients a few questions in a Google Form or Survey Monkey:
“We have reflected a lot over the last few months and want to make sure that we are constantly providing value and helping you interpret and filter information.
- Which of the below topics would you like to hear more about in the coming months?
- What’s something that you read or saw in the news this month that made you feel nervous? Anxious? Happy? Hopeful?
- Where do you best consume information? Social channel? Email? Text? Video?”
Stay In-The-Know At All Times
Advisors can no longer differentiate on product, services or price. And it’s nearly impossible to compete on tech and user experience. We now live in a world where you can read a Twitter thread, open an account, buy a stock and get an up-100%-dopamine surge in under 10 minutes.
Your value proposition has to be that you know your client better than anyone else, and thus are best positioned to serve them.
- Start by having a team member conduct audits of your clients’ social profiles and identify key findings including comments and questions they are posting.
- Commit to adding in a few new websites, blogs and podcasts to your morning routine; find the most popular industry “influencers” and start following their content.
- Get your team or marketing consultant involved and start making a list of the trending topics, investment-related or otherwise, each week. Create a theoretical calendar of topics for the next few weeks and develop quick talk-scripts and talking points around each, such as Robinhood headlines, the Paycheck Protection Program round 2, or cryptocurrencies on tax returns.
- Decide on a channel and method for communicating with your entire client and prospect base. It could be via a blog, newsletter or simple email chain.
Develop a Communication Cadence
Hold yourself accountable to consistent communication by developing a cadence for where and how often you share value-add content. Maybe it’s a weekly email or a monthly vlog. Advisors are oftentimes embarrassed or reluctant to record videos, if they’ve never done it in the past. One easy way to quell that anxiety is to directly tell clients you are trying something new.
“Things are changing rapidly around us and in an effort to keep you in-the-know and bring you valuable content, we are going to start sending you weekly videos rounding up this week’s market headlines.”
Remember, you don’t need to become an expert in Tesla’s valuations or blockchain in order to have impact. Clients simply want to know that they have someone they can trust, who is smart and experienced, and who is helping them interpret information and figure out what’s relevant to them.
A simple weekly email can accomplish nearly all of that.
Penny Alexandra Phillips is a co-founder and president of Journey Strategic Wealth, a registered investment advisor, and founder of Thrivos Consulting.