Richard Heft: How to add gravity to your client communications

 

Special to AdvisorAnalyst.com

This is part two of our thought provoking conversation with Richard Heft, President and Co-Founder at EXT. Marketing, which is in my opinion, one of Canada's premier expert financial communications and marketing firms. I'm always excited to talk to Richard; he's one of those folks who talks to everyone in the business. He always has a ton of takeaways and insight to share, every time.

In part two, we talk to Richard Heft about how advisors can add gravity to their communications with clients at a time when little else matters more. Clients are getting their statements every month and each time they do, especially these days with the rough year it's been, it's potentially a trigger for all their concerns about their investments, about you their advisor, and about whether it's time for a change of direction or worse. This is the call to arms if there ever was one. It's a time to be proactive, it's a time to be sensitive, and Richard and I talk about how you can cement your brand as an advisor, and your relationship with your clients, in this critical moment.

Please enjoy our conversations and thank you again for listening.

How to add gravity to your client communications

AA: How should a financial advisor approach creating content for their clients?

The best thing an advisor can do is be proactive in their communications. Instead of waiting for a client to call with questions, be proactive and publish content that would answer those questions. If a client comes to you and says, “I'm really concerned about X,” that's an idea for content, right? If one client is asking that question, you can probably guess that there is a few clients asking that same question. The trick isn't just in that you're saying, it's when are you saying it. If you say it before they ask the question, if you say it before they're concerned, you’re saving them a lot of frustration and fear and showing them that, you understand and share their concerns.

As an advisor, the good trick is going out and asking clients, “Are you on Facebook? Are you on Twitter? Are you on Instagram? Are you on LinkedIn? Where are they congregating? You can publish a whole lot of stuff, but if it's not going to where your clients are going, it won’t work.

You go to where they're going.

As for the content, is it 300 word articles? Is it small video snippets? Is it in infographics? Where is it longer form? Is it white papers? It could be 800 to 5,000 words, right? You are writing full dissertations on a topic, so now you know where you should be and how, what type of content you should be publishing. Then, focus on what they are asking you. What do you think they're concerned about? Publish, Publish, publish. Try to be regimented about it too.

Get connected with them.

Clients aren't going return to read more of your blog articles if they're all about, “This is what I do for you,” As opposed to taking a more empathetic sort of view, like “What are you concerned about? What are your life's challenges? What keeps you up at night?

What are all these sort of things that are more individual to you? Many of us share the same concerns. We all want to retire. We all want to feed our families. We all want to be comfortable, we all want to take a vacation. Advisors are humans, their clients are humans. What does an advisor worry about? Speak to those things that show you are human and that you share those challenges.

AA: How do you approach having open discussions with your clients?

It's just not good enough to communicate when the markets are good, when things are going great. It not good enough to be communicating when markets are down.

Consistency, being in front of clients all the time is the best way to do it. You have the timely stuff in September, kids going back to school. What top of mind for clients at that point? It doesn't hurt to ask in the spring, when people are cleaning out their garages… What can you do with that stuff? How can we clean up of portfolio? These types of things don't hurt. We refer to those more as evergreen type of pieces.

Then there’s the more timely stuff. The Fed just increased interest rates, three quarters of percentage point, what does that mean to you? You're saying to the client, I am aware of your challenges. They know there's going on in Europe that is not good, for a lot of countries and for some of their holdings and all these types of things. The question is how is it impacting the [the client]?

It’s not just blasting out information, it is listening, because that is how you get those insights into what your clients are concerned about and what type of content you can be producing through other platforms.

AA: Communication = Brand Building

It's an exercise in brand building. This takes time like a brand, to start seeping into people's consciousness 100%. When they start sharing it, other people start seeing it, but the more they see you being present, the more you're building your brand. I always say, if you're looking for KPIs and metrics, you may as well advertise for yourself, and maybe it'll be successful, maybe it won't. This is the type of thing where you're building your brand over time.

I share stuff all the time, and five months later, somebody will call me and say, “Oh, I saw that article.” I'm like, “Well, why didn't you tell me immediately? Why didn't you like it? And share it?” People don't always take action immediately. Take into account that sometimes people need to see things a couple of times, hear things a couple of times. We do know that to get to the point of taking action, people have to see things seven to ten times.

You have to be ready to commit to it without seeing it immediate results. It's going to be over time. It takes longer to get that feedback loop happening. When it does, you get, you see a bit of an inflection point where people start calling you and people start reaching out to you and people start referring you to you, but it ain't day one.

The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is today. The best time is always.

Consistency is the key. Don't give up, keep going out. I love the idea of an advisor going out and pulling their clients and saying, “What are you thinking? Where do you go for information?” All of these types of insights.

I don't understand why an advisor wouldn't go out and just ask for that information to show that you're being proactive, that you want to be where your clients are, that you want to give them the information they need.

Listen to the podcast for the entire interview +

 

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