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4 Steps for Building an Online Client Education Plan

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Think back, before COVID-19, to your educational events.

Many of them were elaborately planned, face-to-face events that required a lot of coordination, cost and team resources. I’m sure that you will want to get back to at least some of these in-person events in the future. However, the disruption caused by COVID-19 opens opportunities to re-imagine your client education plan.

People who we doubted would adapt to a virtual world actually have thrived! Older clients who we thought would resist virtual meetings are embracing the opportunity to stay informed and safe.

Let’s look at the opportunities that the new world affords. Consider these four steps and related opportunities as you build your 2021 client education plan.

Virtual educational events are easier to plan and less costly than face-to-face events, so you can provide more frequent programs to your clients and prospects.

1. Build a Deeper Educational Series

The benefit of added flexibility and frequency is that you can target your clients with more focused education. Although some advisors have conducted in-person educational series in the past, typical face-to-face events are held in a single session – one topic, one session.

Unfortunately, real-world adult learning is better presented in multiple sessions. The takeaways are “stickier” and last longer. Consider a few sessions that tie together to expand the depth and breadth of the topic.

2. Host Highly Focused Educational Events

Again, more frequent events allow you to diversify and dive into more niche education. In the past, you might have held a retirement preparation event that covered everything from savings and investing to Social Security planning.

Now, because of the reduced logistical load and cost, you can easily hold more focused events, one on “Social Security Decisions at Retirement” and one on “Retirement Planning for People 10 Years from Retirement.”

3. Bring in New Experts

Virtual meetings now can include speakers and experts you would not have been able to bring in for physical events. The logistics are simple and less expensive.

Outside speakers who live across the country can have a regular workday, take a break and present at your event in the evening. Travel time is no longer an issue.

You also might be able to afford to bring in an outside expert who may have been previously priced out of your budget for travel costs or higher presentation fees at an in-person engagement.

Some presenters are even taking lower fees because they don’t have to factor in travel time to their pricing.

4. Create a Client Education Event Calendar

Whether you plan to use virtual client educational events or not, here are the things you should be thinking about for your 2021 client educational event calendar:

Which topics would appeal to the largest number of your top clients/prospects? Sample topics:

    • Economic and market update presentations
    • General planning
      • Estate
      • Tax
      • Risk
    • Topical
      • Market volatility
      • RMDs
    • Value-add
      • How to get the most out of your smartphone
      • Networking with LinkedIn
    • Who will create the content?
      • You create it
      • You use pre-created content (Carson Coaching Online has many client-facing PowerPoint presentations that include speaker’s notes so you don’t have to create it yourself!)
      • Co-create and present with a subject matter expert, such as an attorney or accountant.
      • Outside creator/presenter only
    • What is your budget?
      • If you are in the early stages of adopting client educational events, you have a great, low-budget ways to get in with turnkey presentations that can be delivered virtually.

Event Planning Timelines

Face-to-face events usually take about two months to plan and present.

However, due to the simplified logistics of virtual events, you can plan and deliver a virtual education event in no more than four weeks, unless you are creating the content on your own.

If you create the content on your own, you will have to add content creation time into the planning.

Separate From the Competition

Even if you are uncomfortable presenting, consider holding virtual education events so you can demonstrate your expertise in front of a group. Remember that many people are uncomfortable delivering any kind of presentation, ranking it on a dread scale somewhere near death.

If you can present technical concepts in a clear and compelling way for clients and prospects, you elevate yourself in their eyes.

Another benefit of presenting client education (of any kind) is that you can be their primary source of information, potentially limiting their need to randomly search the internet for information.

Ultimately, the question isn’t whether you want to do educational client events. The question is what kind of events – and to whom and on what topics?

Salesforce, in their Connected Investor Report, found that one of the main reasons clients switch advisors is lack of communication.

You can reduce the risk of your clients switching away from you by making client education a key component to your overall communication strategy. Virtual educational events are the easiest to plan, execute and pay for types of live education you can provide to clients!

Dr. Gerry Herbison, Carson CoachingDr. Gerry Herbison is an executive business coach at Carson Coaching.