In my last blog, we explored how persona-based segmentation is key in informing advisors on how best to communicate and provide investment advice to their clients. In our view, the best way to make the most out of your client relationships is to know what they need, when they need it, and be the one to meet that need.
The right message sent to the right person at the right time through the right channel can change the world, meaning:
- It’s important to bridge the gap by communicating in a relevant way and building a relationship of comfort, familiarity, credibility and trust.
- It is crucial to have regular communication with your clients that strengthens your relationships so that in hard times, you can walk anxious clients “off the ledge,” so to speak.
- Communicating on their terms is essential to letting clients know you understand their concerns and needs.
Today clients have access to endless information via multiple channels, including email, websites, social media, radio, TV and podcasts. But most of what they are exposed to is irrelevant noise, which can be distracting, so people now tend to suffer from too much information, as opposed to not enough.
As a former advisor, I recall the daily morning calls I would get from clients having to explain why the latest recommendations on TV were not necessarily appropriate for them. I quickly realized that, in addition to providing investment advice, I also had to play the role of a content curator to differentiate the information that is important versus what is just interesting.
Customer segmentation and persona identification are shortcuts that allow you to leverage client data to improve communication — to deliver content that not only informs, but more importantly, content that connects. As I mentioned before, there is no shortage of communication mediums, and each can serve a unique purpose depending on your objectives.
Your clients are not all the same, so your messaging shouldn’t be either. Email continues to be the killer app, allowing advisors to connect with clients and prospects on a one-on-one basis with personalized messages.
Today more than ever, clients are fighting off noise from multiple sources to get to useful information. As a curator of key information, you can leverage your unique website/blog and newsletters to share relevant information that will resonate with your key audiences.
Social platforms are an outstanding way to share creative content, such as photos and announcements, as well as validated third-party pieces from reputable sources. Social sites lend themselves to creating conversations, and allow for one-to-many content distribution that hopefully leads to sharing and engagement.
Some people don’t have the time to sit down and read a blog post, but will be happy to watch a short video or listen to a podcast while they are doing something else. Advisors need to acknowledge these growing mediums as additional channels for their messaging.
Each of the mediums above will help dictate which messaging format will resonate, but some channels have several formatting options for content. Here are some basic forms of message variation to consider for client communication.
Although sometimes underestimated, the visual presentation of your messaging can have a huge impact on your clients’ response. A message can be immediately ignored or shared simply based on how the information appears. Here are some considerations:
- Does the piece look text- or image-heavy?
- Are there powerful call-out quotes or highlighted facts and figures?
- What about charts or images?
These are just a few visual questions that can change the way a client views, understands, and responds to your message.
The way a piece is written can have a great impact on the client’s ability to grasp the concept or focus on the intended takeaway. The amount and phrasing of text you include can determine a client’s ability to enjoy and even accept a message. Here are some good questions to think about when sharing content:
- Is the piece written in long paragraphs? How about brief bullet points?
- Does it have a catchy title?
- Is there a humorous tone, or is it very serious?
Achieving the right tone and format can be as challenging as it is necessary, and is highly unlikely with one-size-fits-all messaging. It is undeniably important that advisors know their clients and provide effective communication. Concepts of choice architecture, framing, behavioral investor types and more can all help deepen your understanding of how to most effectively communicate with clients, encourage positive behavior and improve outcomes.
Typically, the more mediums you choose for communicating with clients and prospects, the better. But what’s more important is to personalize your messaging. Customization is how you become the client’s reliable resource that requires no decoding — the go-to expert who speaks their language. Varying your messaging style does not challenge your legitimacy, it simply shifts the focus away from you as the speaker, and toward your client as the audience. It is never insincere to shift your tone or methods in order to connect with, educate and satisfy your clients. Cater to the client, and they will never forget that you facilitated their true understanding of investment.