Don’t Decay: Communicating with Clients

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Marketing does not usually come naturally to many financial advisors.  But, for what it’s worth, dentists are even less familiar with how to make marketing work.

In March, I received my reminder postcard for my semi-annual dental appointment.  If your dentist is like mine, you’re asked, at the end of your visit, to either schedule your next appointment and self-address a postcard, or simply check a box saying, “please call to schedule appointment.” This last time,  I selected the deferral option.  I would call to schedule.  It is now May and I still have not called.  I just keep moving the postcard around with a Post-It attached to it that says “Call Dentist.”  I know regular dental appointments are important.  I want my teeth cleaned and my insurance pay 100%. But for some reason, this mundane task falls to the bottom of my “To Do” list every day. Why?  Making this call is not top of mind.  But it easily could be!  If only my dentist took a proactive approach to his relationship marketing.

Suppose that my dentist’s goal became to make sure I have two cleanings per year to help me keep up my dental health. All he would have to do is set up an automated email reminder for me to call (or click) to schedule. And if I failed to call, I would continue to receive a defined stream of email follow-up reminders for a set number of times in the weeks that followed, possibly even reminding me that my current insurance covers to entire cost.  If I failed to respond again, I would receive a call.  My dentist could now focus more of his resources servicing the clients he already has instead of constantly seeking new patients.  By tightening up the communication with his existing clientele, he could gain an incremental 50% in revenue across 18 months as he shortened the time between visits from nine months to six.

You may argue he could make more if my teeth deteriorated faster, making his skill a necessary evil for me rather than a neutral or positive interaction.  However, with more frequent visits, he can deepen our relationship, reinforce his expertise, and hopefully leave me feeling satisfied because I am proactively managing my oral health. I would then happily send referrals his way.  When he takes a true proactive relationship marketing approach rather than “waiting for a call,” we both win.

How are you proactively communicating with your clients?  What is your flow?  If you do not yet have a defined system in place, consider making a flowchart to bring it all together in one place.   Start with the first appointment.  What is the next interaction you want your client to have with you?  Is it a meeting in 3 months?  A call in 6 months?  Is it reporting in on the first three tasks of the Action Plan?  Outline the key milestones for the year from which you need client participation.  Once you have these milestones defined as boxes on the flowchart, build out communication “if/then” statements before and after each event.  Match up emails and phone call triggers to each milestone.  From here, you can set up an email management system based on exactly what you need it to do.

Our clients count on us to strengthen their financial well being.  Don’t let reactive communications and waiting by the phone decay these valuable relationships.

Kristin Harad, CFP®
Marketing trainer for advisers
San Francisco

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