JULIE LITTLECHILD'S BLOG


How To Make Your Client Communications Work Harder

I have watched Disney’s Inside Out approximately 20 times.

And while it’s clear that having a 6 year old in charge of movie night has it’s limitations, this particular obsession provides a wonderful look inside the human brain.  If nothing else, it helps explain why sometimes my brain feels like a human sieve, incapable of holding on to all the ideas I hear.

When it comes to client communication there’s no shortage of ideas.  In fact, there’s no shortage of great ideas vying for your attention and pulling you in different directions.

You’re told you should educate and appreciate while building deep personal relationships.  And, you’re reminded not to forget prospects and centers of influence while you’re busy communicating with your clients.

With so many ideas to choose from you might feel like a kid at a candy store, picking and choosing from the best.  Or, like so many of us, you might choose to do nothing. It’s as if we have some human ‘factory setting’ that causes inaction in the face of too much choice.

The only thing worse than too few ideas is too many.  Both lead to inaction.

 

Decision Fatigue: It’s a Real Thing

We can chalk this phenomenon up to a form of decision fatigue which, by the way, is a real thing. In a nutshell, the theory suggests that our ability to make effective decisions deteriorates with the number of decisions we need to make.

As a result (and in the face of too many opportunities) we might do one of two things:

  1. Avoid decisions. Too many options/decisions may not only lead to poor quality decisions, but may cause us to do nothing.
  2. Make impulse decisions. The same thing that has you buying a chocolate bar at the checkout counter of the supermarket, may also have you investing in a program or tool that you may never use.

President Obama famously supported this theory when he shared that he only wore blue or gray suits in order to cut down on the number of decisions that need to be made in a day.

Cutting Through the Noise

So what can we do to ensure our business doesn’t suffer in the face of our flawed, human decision-making capabilities? Ironically, in a world of unlimited possibility, the answer is to narrow your focus and cut out the clutter.

  1. Narrow your focus to one or two ‘themes’ for your prospect and client communication.
  2. Identify the activities you do well. Do them and do them again.
  3. Leverage those activities across key stakeholder groups: clients, prospects and centers of influence.
  4. Squeeze the last ounce of value out of every activity.

Think ‘Campaigns’ Not Communications

Instead of focusing on the range of possibilities, think about executing on a single, meaningful, client communication campaign and leverage that with prospects and centers of influence. A campaign comprises a theme that you select and a series of defined activities that help you take action.

Now, instead of mentally juggling how you should educate, appreciate and add value, you do all three through a focused campaign.

Let’s assume you work with high net worth clients who have made their money and are seeking more meaning in the next phase of their lives. You choose to focus on legacy planning. (I’ll use this for my example, but you could just as easily insert multi-generational planning, making your retirement meaningful or tax strategies for business owners – whatever resonates with your clients.)

Here’s a sample process:

1. Invest an hour of your time and identify three great articles, from credible sources, that relate to your theme. As you’re reading those articles, identify the five most common questions the authors are answering (e.g., how do I define my legacy, how does charitable giving fit into a financial plan, which charities are right for me?)

2. Send an email to clients, highlighting those questions and linking to one of the articles.

  • If you are using social media, link to that article wherever you have a presence.
  • If you have a prospect list, send a copy of that article to prospects.
  • If you work with centers of influence, send a copy of that article with the suggestion it might be of interest to their clients.

3. Two to four weeks later send the next article, summarizing the key message.

  • Repeat the social media share, prospect and center of influence communications.

4. Two to four weeks later, send the final article with the summary.

  • Include a P.S. that indicates you will be bringing clients together for a discussion on the topic and they should look for the invite.
  • Repeat the social media share, prospect and center of influence communications.

5. Two weeks later send an invitation to a small event. For legacy planning that might showcase several charities or a speaker that helps clients think about their own legacy. If possible, video tape the presentation.

6. One week after the event, send a summary of the key take-aways from the event and send that to clients, prospects and COIs.

  • Create a single slide with those take-aways and post it on social media
  • If you taped the presentation, select a few key messages and post on your website.
  • Create a ‘client-friendly’ summary for COIs to share with their clients

7. Follow-up with key clients, prospects and COIs to see if they have questions or want to meet.

The entire client communication campaign takes 7 to 12 weeks to execute. If you did nothing else you would have added significant value for your clients, prospects and centers of influence. The big difference is that you focused your energy on a single theme, which makes you more efficient.  And, you now have a defined process that you can repeat once or twice a year, with a new theme.

The key here is that instead of weighing yourself down with the possibility of what you can do for clients, you drew a line in the sand and took action. Instead of testing a range of unrelated communications, you’ve taken the concept of a workshop and expanded it to include multiple communications and all key audiences. You’ve created a highly focused campaign.

Two Things That Will Make Or Break Your Campaign

Personally, I think there are two things that will ensure this is a successful plan.

  1. Pick a theme that is truly compelling for clients and about which you are passionate.
  2. Ensure the activities align with your skills. If you don’t like group presentations, don’t choose a workshop.

If you can leave the long list of client communication potential ideas aside and focus on getting one campaign executed with excellence, you’ll lay a strong foundation and save your sanity in the process. And with a repeatable process in place, it’s like the shampoo bottle says. Shampoo, rinse and repeat.

Thanks for stopping by,
Julie

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