All of us are affected by the coronavirus and the shutdowns. The virus is slowly running its course but social distancing will be with us for a very long time to come.
That means most of us are going to have to change the way we market and sell our services. “Meet and greet” networking events will be out of the picture for a while. When they do come back, they’ll be different. They may look more like ‘show and tells’ with slide shows than mingling sessions.
Even walking into businesses and asking for the owner is going to be fraught. The small ‘handshake’ ritual that has been with us since antiquity will be changed as we figure out our new forms of etiquette and social conventions.
So, what’s the best path forward?
Always keep clients informed.
First, communicate with clients. Never go ‘dark’ during a crisis. That’s how to lose them to competitors. They need to hear from you now, and they need to hear from you frequently.
They need to have some perspective on market history: We’ve been through pandemics and other disasters many times before, and they’ve always been buying opportunities, and the markets have always bounced back. Put things in perspective for them.
They also need to hear from you on strategies to get by and minimize the damage when their incomes and small businesses have been impacted. They also need to know that you’re taking specific steps to ensure your office is clean and sanitary, and that it’s safe to come in. The CEO of Target put out a major communications effort to make sure the public knew what they were doing to keep their stores clean. You should, too. Let them know that when you do meet them in person, you will have your own mask, gloves, PPE, and even sanitizer to clean your pens.
Here’s a tool from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce you can use to communicate your safety measures that makes it a snap.
Now’s the time to reach out with phone calls, emails, newsletters and the good-old-fashioned letter (for best results, take the time to write out the addresses by hand, or have an assistant do it).
Let them know that you understand what they’re going through, and that you’re here to help.
Or even just reach out to check on them, and hear what they’re going through from their own lips. Be proactive, not reactive.
Focus on empathy when communicating with clients.
Sure, you’d rather be discussing moving 401(k)s into IRAs and bringing assets into your firm to manage. But most people aren’t in the state of mind to discuss that yet. A lot of your public messaging should be focused on empathy with your audience.
So, beware of the temptation to be tin-eared with your communications efforts.
Before they care what you know, they need to know that you care.
Get proactive to open new accounts.
Existing clients have to come first, of course. Once you’ve contacted all your current clients, reach out to all your prospective ones. Contact everyone in your sales funnel.
Here’s why: A lot of your competitors are sitting at home wondering what to do. They’re twiddling their thumbs. Their clients may be wondering why their current advisor hasn’t contacted them.
This is your chance to be Johnny-on-the-spot with perspective, market history, advice and solutions. Don’t let the opportunity pass you by.
Now, you have to be tactful. People aren’t receptive to transaction-oriented messaging right now. Read the room.
Get back to basics: Re-discover cold calling.
Sure, the Do Not Call list and the transition to other technologies has affected cold calling in recent years. But dialing for dollars still works. If it didn’t, those political campaigns would leave you alone every election year.
But they don’t.
Now that people are stuck at home, or things are quiet at their business, they’re picking up the phone again. Business owners have furloughed gatekeepers, or they’re bored. Whatever it is, now’s the time to call.
You may find that they’re very chatty. So make a thousand calls before things get busy again.
That’s just 100 calls a day for ten days. You can do this! Gird your loins and pick up the phone. Track your results. And write me and tell me what happens in your sales pipeline. I love to hear your success stories.
Remember, the “Do Not Call” laws still apply. But you can call business numbers all day long. And you can call people who’ve sent their contact info to your website, downloaded a white paper, or anything else where they’ve opted in.
Make videos to communicate with your audience on a holistic level.
Marketing professionals in all industries are ramping up their video production and YouTube capabilities. Videos rank well in searches. But most importantly in our business, they allow you and your wonderful personality to shine through. You can go on camera and deliver your message in your own voice, building your own credibility as the go-to financial expert in your market or niche.
With video, it’s impossible for them to confuse you with someone else’s brand. It’s you on camera, providing value, information and solutions.
Your market doesn’t just read text on a screen. With good video production, you’re engaging multiple senses at the same time: They’re reading your text on screen. They’re hearing your voice. They’re seeing your face – and your logo.
That’s some powerful branding.
Get on camera. I do it all the time, personally. My own enterprise would not be nearly as successful if I didn’t make videos. (Subscribe to my YouTube channel if you haven’t done so yet!)
Up your email game.
Sure, you’re sending emails. And so is everyone else. Because everyone else has the same thought. So, you have to be smarter than the others, and focus on deliverability. That’s what gets emails read, rather than skipped over or automatically routed to the Spam filter.
If you have your own domain name, authenticate it with SPF and DKIM. These are third-parties that verify to other email vendors that your email is coming from a legitimate source, is not part of a phishing attempt. Here’s how to do it.
Also, don’t try to email your entire contact base at once. Segment your list your current clients and active subscribers – those who’ve engaged with you within the last few months.
Master video conferencing to stay in touch even when meeting face-to-face is not an option.
We touched on videoconferencing software in a recent blog post. Zoom seems to have become the top dog recently. If you’re not already an ace, learn it now. I’ve used several platforms with success, but the best platform to use is the one that your prospects and customers use and are comfortable with.
Do some practice runs with your own family. That way your clients and prospects can focus on their own needs and the value you provide in meeting them, rather than on fixing bad audio and other technical glitches.
Embrace blogging: A great way to broadcast your message and help prospects and clients alike.
Now’s a great time to double down on blogging. With more people at home and online, search engine optimization, and getting good search results from your inbound marketing efforts is more important than ever.
Search engine algorithms reward recent, frequently updated content. Older, stale content gets bumped down the list.
A 2019 study from HubSpot found that blogs that get updated frequently significantly outperform blogs with less frequent new material.
I believe it, and I put new material on my own site every week.
It works. The proof: You’re reading this right now!