As vaccination begins to outpace demand and much of the country removes restrictions on gatherings and travel, financial advisors may be tempted to toss aside the virtual and digital marketing activities that became their only options during the pandemic.
But even though everyone will welcome the return to normalcy, advisors need to realize that the digital marketing and communications approaches they embraced during the “virtual” days are here to stay. Certain digital marketing tools proved essential during the pandemic, and growth-oriented advisors must continue to have them in their tool kits:
Modern Websites One of the things advisors will need is modern websites frequently updated with interesting content. The temporary shift to an all-virtual work environment raised the stakes for advisor websites. Many advisors who had previously taken a minimalist approach to their online presence have been pushed to significantly upgrade their sites.
These smart investments will continue to drive positive long-term and near-term results. After all, when clients refer friends to their advisors, the first thing the prospects do is Google those advisors. If the advisors don’t have a digital presence anchored by an aesthetically pleasing design and a content-rich and modern website, the prospects will likely look elsewhere.
Frequent Communication One of the key drivers of successful marketing is a robust communication and customer engagement strategy that establishes a regular cadence of digital touch points. Whether an advisor is using one-to-many tactics such as email newsletters and social media or one-to-one personalized communications, he or she will need a steady drumbeat of communication to make clients feel valued and secure while also creating deeper connections and establishing credibility in the minds of prospects.
And as we saw last year, it’s particularly important that advisors quickly scale up the frequency of communication to give clients a sense of assurance during periods of crisis.
A Strategic Approach To Social Media Nearly all the advisors in a recent survey said that the migration to digital communications during the pandemic prompted them to reconsider their social media strategies.
A well-thought-out Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn strategy helps current and prospective clients feel more connected to an advisor, builds brand awareness, promotes thought leadership platforms, supports niche strategies, and perhaps most importantly helps clients and prospects get to know advisors and their firms in a more personal way. That’s ultimately why clients choose an advisor and why they stay.
These may seem like daunting and time-consuming tasks, but there are technologies available that help advisors streamline their efforts. Some well-capitalized wealth management firms offer marketing experts, automation and approved content that make it even easier to execute effective marketing activities with high returns on investment.
Valuable Tactics To Be Used Opportunistically Some tools that have become central to advisors’ marketing efforts during the pandemic will continue to provide value in the vaccinated future, though they might take on different roles:
Video conferences. Even as we return to the office, we will increasingly rely on video meeting platforms. And why not? These technologies have helped many advisors expand beyond their local areas to serve clients across the country.
Clients have also gotten accustomed to meeting online and enjoy the convenience of connecting without leaving home. As we emerge from the pandemic, advisors should re-evaluate which meeting formats—remote or in-person—work best for a given objective or specific client and adjust their practices accordingly.
Virtual events. As states continue to reopen, advisors will be able to start organizing in-person events again. Clearly, though, there will still be room for virtual gatherings for non-local clients or for those who prefer the virtual format. It is undeniable that you can reach far more people, far more cost-effectively, if you meet with them virtually rather than in-person. And people are open to creative options.
Building Relationships, Not Databases Over time, in-person meetings and events will once again serve as a major element of marketing, brand-building and business development for advisors. Ultimately, this is a relationship business, and there is no substitute for meeting with clients and prospects face to face. But the opportunity to pair digital marketing activities with traditional tactics will lead to even greater growth.
The world has changed, and so has the way we communicate. What has not changed in the past year is the amount of work it takes to create lasting client relationships. Nor has the need for an authentic personal touch gone away—or the need for strategic approaches to blending digital and traditional marketing.
Our shared experiences during the pandemic have taught us that advisors now have a better understanding of the range of marketing tactics, particularly using digital channels, they can use to drive significant business growth.
Rita Robbins is Founder and President of Affiliated Advisors (www.affiliatedadvisors.com). Susan Theder is Chief Marketing Officer of Advisor Group (www.advisorgroup.com).