Blogging | 01/26/2017
Good News, Bad News, Client News
Note: We are super excited to feature a guest post from our good friend Wendy Cook this week. If you’re not familiar with Wendy, she is the founder and brilliant wordsmith behind Wendy J. Cook Communications, a content production company for evidence-based advisors. Enjoy!
Thankfully, at least as I write this post, we’ve had a little bit of a break on experiencing any crisis-level news hitting the market hard. That said, while I almost never use the word “guarantee,” this is one case in which the word works: I guarantee it’s only a matter of time before the next big “OMG” comes along.
Then what? When the markets are having a bad day (or few), should you reach out to your clients right away, or hold off until the results are more clear?
I get that it may seem logical to pause and reflect before sending out client communications in the midst of a market crisis:
- You might inadvertently generate anxiety where none existed. If you’ve done your job, they should already be remaining calm.
- If your clients haven’t noticed the crisis or they don’t care about it, they already are best positioned to adhere to their long-term, evidence-based plan. Why mess it up?
- Either making too light of breaking news or analyzing it too deeply could backfire on you if the markets render your comments obsolete or just plain wrong.
- Reacting to breaking news may feel contrary to your evidence-based philosophy. Are you sending the wrong message by implying the news matters?
Here is why I believe that none of these arguments should prevent you from reaching out anyway. And while you’re at it, most of this same advice applies for your general blogging activities, for reaching out to even wider audiences.
Bad News on the Rise? Be the Hero.
Imagine you are in a relationship with someone you admire greatly. You value her opinion. You respect his advice. You enjoy speaking with this person about all sorts of subjects, because you always come away inspired and enlightened by the conversation. When the address or Caller ID indicates that this special person is reaching out to you, you can’t wait to open the e-mail or take the call – before you even know what it’s going to be about.
Isn’t that exactly how you want your clients to think about you and your advice? Under these circumstances, there would never be a bad or wrong time to be in touch with them. Every reach-out would only further strengthen your valuable and valued relationship.
Rather than thinking of market crises as annoying distractions, think of each as a huge opportunity to show your clients that you’re still there for them, come what may. Just as there is never a bad time to say “thank you” to someone you appreciate, there’s never a bad time to remind your clients that their well-being remains your top priority.
Sunny Days Are Here Again? Time To Be in Touch Again.
Another important way to make your crisis communications more effective is to sustain a regular stream of good-news reach-outs in between. In so doing, the crisis-driven ones won’t seem out of context when they arrive. They’ll just be one more exchange in your ongoing conversation.
Thank your clients whenever you’re grateful, even if it’s not that big a deal.
Imagine sending an out-of-the-blue e-mail a year or so into your relationship with a relatively new client. Something like, “Hi, John & Mary: Today, I have no news to report, but I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate your business. Have a great day!” Think of the smiles you’ll probably put on their faces. Mildly puzzled smiles, perhaps, but smiles nonetheless.
Congratulate them on their good-news events.
Birthdays, yes, no duh. But, better yet, send them a thumbs-up when their child just made the soccer team or they’ve just adopted a new puppy. For those of you who have been wondering why you might want to be Facebook friends with your clients … there it is. It’s a rich source of free diamonds in the communication rough.
Invite them to celebrate your own milestones.
Without going overboard, you can share your own good news in a client e-newsletter. Especially if you have staff members, genuinely cheering on their personal and professional accomplishments is a big win for everyone involved.
Client Communications Through Thick and Thin
Good times, bad times and every time in between – what do those relationship-strengthening communications look like?
They’re clear and consistent.
First and foremost, make sure they reconfirm what your clients hired you to provide. No matter how many times you may have said it before, if you say it well, you can always expect it to be well-received. To you, that may feel repetitive. But to your clients, the reinforcement helps them avoid their behavioral biases while reminding them why they’re still paying you.
I don’t mean you have to knock anyone over with probing economic analyses. A communication is informative when you are able to share one or two key points that recreate that “ah-ha!” moment – the one that sparked their commitment to evidence-based investing to begin with. By focusing on quality instead of quantity, neither you nor your clients will ever be sorry that you’ve been in touch.
Recipients should feel as if you are engaging them in a thoughtful exchange versus lecturing or chiding them. It should acknowledge and empathize with the doubts or concerns they may be having, but also give them ways to resolve them – which is (hint hint) where you come in as their valued advisor.
They’re as personalized as possible.
When sending a broadcast e-mail, you may want to include a personalized salutation or follow up with individual phone calls as appropriate. Also, there may be particular clients – you probably already know who they are – who simply will not react well to one or another particular communication. It will be important to respect their preferred parameters. These days, customized communications can often be addressed using Client Relationship Management solutions.
So, instead of only reaching out to clients when you’ve got business to transact, complete the circle with good-time news and views, as well as comforting conversations when the outlook is alarming. Once you’re both in the habit of being in touch with one another when you just want to shoot the bull, those market crisis reach-outs shouldn’t be nearly as hard to bear.
The final challenge to regularly reaching out to your clients? That would be finding the hours in the day. I can empathize with that! Fortunately, I have a way to help you resolve this challenge. The Wendy J. Cook Communications Content-Sharing Library offers timely, customizable messaging to help you craft your special reach-out messages … and it’s available 24/7.
Need more help with the customizing (which is especially critical if you’re applying these ideas to your blog posts, where too much duplicate content can defeat the purpose)?
Add one of Mineral’s Content Packets to complement your Library membership, and you’re on your way.
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