Abby Salameh of Hightower. Abby Salameh of Hightower.

Advisory firms should step up their marketing and other communications initiatives to best serve their clients and take advantage of opportunities to grow their businesses during this difficult time, and they don’t need to be expert technicians or spend bundles to do so, according to RIA marketing experts who spoke Tuesday during the webinar “Marketing Secrets of Billion-Dollar RIAs.”

Advisors must, however, be open to listening to other perspectives and trying out new initiatives that can potentially help their businesses, they said. At the same time, it’s also a good time for advisory firms to shift their marketing away from business continuity issues and other COVID-19 crisis specifics in favor of new legislative and other information, as well as fun, lifestyle-oriented ideas that clients and prospective clients will find useful now that the situation has stabilized somewhat, they pointed out.

“I think generally one of the hardest things to get [from] a retail consumer is their attention, and we’ve absolutely got everyone’s attention through this time,” according to Jud Mackrill, chief marketing officer at Carson Group. After all, he noted: “They’re uncertain, they’re afraid, they’re opportunistic. There’s all sorts of ways that advisors” can help them. “It’s been a huge opportunity for our partner firms to seize on that [by being] really proactive” and educational.

That is “especially” the case as legislation continues to pass that impacts small-business owners and other clients, he said, adding: “We have to be available. We have to be doing the research as marketers to create resources and assets” to deliver to clients to “give them clarity and confidence and help them more optimize their financial plan or make key decisions.”

The Hunger for Information

Agreeing, Christa Spencer, senior vice president of marketing and communications at Mariner Wealth Advisors, said clients were “really hungry for information” and very appreciative when advisors return their phone calls to answer their questions and address their concerns. This is especially a great opportunity to land new clients or even get more business from clients who may be working with other advisory firms, including larger ones, that “just aren’t taking the time to communicate” with them, she noted.

One important key in attracting new clients is for advisory firms to have content prepared to address investors’ concerns and “then putting it out there,” such as on social media, so that they see there’s a place to get their questions answered about new legislation and other issues, she said.

Focusing on the effects of COVID-19 right now is a much better theme for advisors’ marketing than the virus itself, she went on to say. For example, “if you have clients who have been furloughed or laid off,” it would be a great idea to reach out to clients to help them resolve such issues as what to do with their 401(k)s, she noted. Helping clients deal with the “new normal” of being out of work for a while and “being their partner through it so they know that they can rely on you for more than just their investments” is a great route to take, she suggested to advisors.

Stressing the fact that it doesn’t necessarily have to cost a whole lot to enhance marketing initiatives, Spencer said lifestyle events including virtual yoga classes, as well as webinars, have been effective ways to continue meeting with clients.

Social media ads, meanwhile, have also been effective, she said, noting her company has stepped up its social media ads and “our results have almost doubled” for online advertising compared to before COVID-19. In the process, her company has seen more people sign up for its newsletter, she said, adding: “It’s very low-cost” — about $700 a week for multiple ads — and “you get great results.”

“Communication has been critical” since the start of the COVID-19 crisis and accompanying economic fallout, according to Abby Salameh, chief marketing officer at Hightower Advisors. “We’ve had advisors who have done really well right now in quickly and efficiently reaching back out to prospects that maybe had been on the sidelines for a while,” she said, noting: “They’ve been able to actually get those clients on board during this time for a lot of different reasons,” including the fact that they’re sometimes not getting their calls returned by their existing advisors.

New Growth Opportunities

Hightower has also been “opportunistic” and “leaning in to find new ways” to achieve “growth and looking at where we can engage with prospects for our advisors through content and programs that will drive leads into Hightower that we then promote out to our advisors,” she told viewers. “That’s been incredibly successful,” she noted.

In some cases, Hightower has even provided complementary consultations with prospective clients, especially small-business owners, many of whom are “confused” about what they need to do now, she said.

“Video has just skyrocketed,” she went on to say, noting webinars and video communications sent to clients “seems to be resonating really well” for her firm’s advisors.

The COVID-19 pandemic has “really helped” advisory teams who may have been evaluating how to use remote technology or more video communication “move faster,” according to Gordy Abel, chief marketing officer at Dynasty Financial Partners. Dynasty has helped its teams communicate with their clients and prospects “where they are” — whether at home via Zoom, walking in the park to get out of their homes or driving somewhere, he said. The situation has required the firm to figure out “how to adopt technology faster,” as well as how to incorporate in into its workflow and “get much more creative in leveraging those channels — not just with the content itself, but how we position the content, how we deliver the content and how we respond to when people engage with the content,” he added.

Providing another tip for advisors, Angel Gonzalez, chief marketing officer at Snappy Kraken, suggested they “pay attention to the industries” and “side hustles” that emerge as a result of COVID-19 trends, including home schooling and remote work management.

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