The following post is courtesy of Diane Harrison who is principal and owner of Panegyric Marketing, a strategic marketing communications firm founded in 2002 specializing in alternative assets.
August is here, and we are still largely working remotely in the financial services industry. This separation from clients and prospects is particularly difficult to manage for those tasked with marketing, business development, and client relationships. There just isn’t an equivalent substitute for meeting and interacting in person for some of these functions, yet this is required for the majority of businesses in 2020 for the undetermined future. Some ideas to help mitigate the impersonal and isolated feeling that working remote can generate follow below.
WHEN YOU CAN’T BE PERSON TO PERSON, MAKE SURE YOUR CONTENT REFLECTS YOUR FIRM’S PERSONALITY
Most prospects and clients will be experiencing your business through emails, websites, webcasts, and phone calls. None of these channels are as powerful as face-to-face meetings, including the pesky online meeting sites where conversation is singular and stilted at best. This is a good time to take personal inventory of all the communication formats your clients and prospects will be accessing or receiving to ensure that they accurately reflect the dynamics and brand feel you want your business to convey. If the impact isn’t up to par, create ways to tell your story to this important audience.
Unlike other times in the past, where people were busy traveling and attending meetings, many of us are working from a small site in or nearby home. There is actually more time for reading and reviewing material online. If you haven’t done so yet, maybe you can expand your website and explain the history of your firm, how it came to be, some of the development highlights or company milestones you’ve achieved along the way. A newsletter in which you can feature key personnel and share upcoming events or activities that the firm is involved with might be a valuable communication vehicle to keep your contacts up to date.
MAKE SURE YOUR CLIENTS KNOW YOU KNOW THEIR NEEDS
People feel more comfortable in any relationship when they believe they are understood. In a financial business environment, showing that you have experience with solving the types of issues that clients find themselves faced with is the foundation of building trust for a long-term relationship. Demonstrate that you can be relatable to your customer and their needs. Develop a series of client case studies that explain how you’ve addressed situations in the past and the know-how to do it again. One caveat to this though: be careful not to typecast clients into a few situational buckets for a ‘one size fits most’ solution. Financial care and well-being needs to be a custom approach for each client. The experience foundation your firm brings to this task is what allows for creative and flexible solution models.
MAKE IT SIMPLE TO FOLLOW, SIMPLE TO EXECUTE
If your company is undertaking a number of initiatives both internally and with clients and prospects during this year, there is a great need for follow up and checking in with multiple remote location work groups. Assuming everyone knows what is happening on a range of issues is a recipe for communication and project breakdown. Centralizing a status update program so that all involved can check in and be checked on keeps the process moving smoothly. It also allows for meaningful interaction with clients and prospects at appropriate points along the way. Designating a key contact for external contact keeps the communication channel clear for two-way conversations with these important constituents.
CLIENT FEEDBACK OF ALL FORMS IS ALWAYS A GOAL
Positive or negative, honest feedback from clients is one of your most valuable information tools. While it’s natural to want validation from your clients on what you do well, knowing where you have gaps is more important in the long run. During this time when you can’t have a personal client relationship manager meeting for months at a stretch, it is important to be even more vigilant about soliciting feedback along the way from your clients in a variety of ways. Setting up a series of phone call status checks is the next best thing to do; avoid impersonal email questionnaires or surveys that put the burden of eliciting this information on your clients.
GET CREATIVE ABOUT GIVING BACK
This is a great time to consider ramping up your philanthropic business profile. If you have had such plans on the back burner because there was always too much going on in the business, plan to increase your efforts on helping others who need support. Perhaps your business can sponsor a local project, donate time, money, or materials to a charitable program or project. Give a little and you’ll get a lot in terms of good will and appreciation. Your employees will do good works and feel better in the process.
Fall 2020 is setting up to be a challenging period politically, economically, and personally for clients and employees alike. Maintaining a sharp eye on ways to keep the dialogue going with both parties should be a goal for business managers across the board.