The last few years have been troubling for Americans. And although things have been improving since the Great Recession, there’s still a lot of uncertainty about the future of our economy. You need to have a plan for when the next recession hits and your revenue begins to decrease due to client loss or market performance.

The actions you take today can influence how your business fares following the next market crash. While much is out of your control, there are two things you can do now to prepare for the future: commit to marketing and have a plan for communicating during a crisis.

1. Commit to marketing. The markets performed very well in 2013, with the DJIA up more than 25 percent. With this type of organic asset growth, it’s easy to think the worst is behind us and that you can continue to see growth in your businesses without needing to market. But this is a huge mistake. When I started Wealth Management in 2008, many advisors I worked with hadn’t done much marketing at all. While it was brave to spend money on marketing just as their revenue was decreasing, these advisors would have been in a better position had they started marketing before the recession.

The lesson here is that there is never a good time to neglect your marketing. If you aren’t marketing now, begin immediately. If you have started, continue. The momentum you build now will help you retain clients and win new ones during the downtimes. Finally, during the next economic downturn, don’t make the mistake of pulling back on your marketing dollars. Investing in marketing is just as important in bad times as in good.

2. Communicate during a crisis. Regularly communicating to clients and prospects provides reassurance during troubled times. Communication can take a variety of forms, such as phone calls, emails, newsletters, market commentaries, webinars, conference calls, videos and events. Even if your clients and prospects aren’t actively engaged in any of these marketing activities, your consistent outreach will remind them that you’re there when they need you.

In addition to communicating with your clients on a regular basis, you need to have systems in place to quickly reach out to clients and prospects if there’s a financial emergency. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do your CRM and email marketing systems contain current email addresses for all your clients and prospects?
  • Do you have an email template ready to go so that you can send an e-blast within a few hours of a major event (a stock market crash, natural disaster or firm emergency)?
  • Could you produce a conference call or webcast within days — or even hours — of an economic catastrophe?
  • Is someone in your office trained on and responsible for executing these duties?

If you answered no to any of these questions, you have some work to do. Being prepared to quickly communicate with panicky clients and prospects can help ease fears following an economic disaster. And it may also position you to pick up new clients who are in distress and are looking for guidance.

Don’t wait for the next economic disaster to hit to adapt your marketing strategy. While there may be no signs of a coming downturn, natural events and human interference can quickly disrupt a stable economy. Establish a solid marketing strategy now and develop a communication plan for clients and prospects so you’ll be prepared for the next emergency.

Sign up for The Lead and get a new tip in your inbox every day! More tips:

Kristen Luke is the principal of Wealth Management Marketing, a firm dedicated to providing marketing strategies and support for registered investment advisory firms. For more information, visit www.wealthmanagementmarketing.net.