According to a YChart study of over 650 investors, how and what an advisor communicates has a big impact on clients’ willingness to stay with or refer that advisor.

What to communicate to clients

If you need help with what to say check out our newly launched messaging toolkit. The toolkit includes:

  • A messaging scorecard
  • An exercise to develop strong key messages and validators
  • An implementation checklist 

How to communicate with clients

In this blog, we’ll focus on how to communicate effectively versus what to communicate.  

With referrals and retention front of mind, make your communications work harder with these best practices (keep reading to dig deeper into each tip):

  1. Talk about your ideal client and their needs often to generate more referrals
  2. Take a client-centric approach to your communications; let your ideal clients guide how you communicate
  3. Have a plan (a content strategy and calendar) and track metrics to determine if your communications are working or not
  4. Make your communications work harder by using and reusing content

Tip #1: Talk about your ideal client often 

From our own research, we know that the most referable firms discuss their ideal clients and their needs frequently with their clients, teams, and centers of influence. I call this “planting referral seeds.” By planting referral seeds, you increase your chances of getting referrals. 

At this point, you may be thinking, “that’s too ‘sales-y.’ I don’t like talking about myself.” Here’s the thing: planting referral seeds shouldn’t be sales-y. When done well, these seeds should be about your ideal client, not you. 

Planting a referral seed well could sound like this:

Client: “How are you doing?”

Advisor: “Great, thanks for asking. (Note: Your body language should reinforce what you’re about to say. Hopefully you’re smiling and upbeat). I just got off the phone with another client—a business owner in the process of selling their business. I love helping business owners figure out how to navigate the end stages of their career, specifically how to work through selling their business to start their journey into retirement with confidence. I feel so lucky to be able to do this work.”  

Was that sales-y? If it is true, then no.  Was it about you? A little, but it was really more about others, and your mission. 

By having key messages you and your team are able to incorporate the most important sound bites into conversation often and naturally. This may require some practice upfront. 

Action tip: Make planting referral seeds one of your key development activities and challenge yourself to practice it at least once a day to build a new habit.

Tip #2: Take a client-centric approach 

I was recently asked by an advisor, “What do clients want to see or hear in a review meeting? What do they really value?” 

I told him, “What your clients value depends on your clients.” There truly is no easy-button answer, report, visual, or approach. This is why specialization, with a narrowly defined ideal client persona, is so helpful. Focusing on a well-defined persona can amplify your communications and ability to deliver value. It’s really hard, if not impossible, to please many different people.  

You can start by asking those clients who are most like your ideal client what their communications preferences are, and what they most value. For example, you could ask:

  • What did you value most when you first came to me?
  • What do you value now?
  • How do you like to receive communications? 
  • How often do you want to hear from us?

If you provide a newsletter, quarterly commentaries, or other proactive communications, ask clients to rate them. If they rate them as less than “exceptional,” ask what a higher score would look like. Your ideal clients will likely have distinct answers, which should inform your content strategy and communications approach. 

Tip #3: Have a plan and track metrics 

Take what you learned from your ideal clients and develop a communications and content strategy, with tactics that work for both them and you. Your communications should support your business goals (grow, retain, etc.), be deemed valuable by your key audience(s), and be consistent. 

If you’re investing effort and money into communications and you don’t know if it’s working, it’s time to look at the data, and then pause to reassess your goals, ideal client needs, and the format (how and how often you’re communicating).

Depending on your goals, you should decide on some key performance indicators to understand how you’re doing. Metrics can be simple, such as open and click-through rates for newsletters or email communications. For social media, it’s engagement, such as likes, shares, or click-throughs to your website (you can see this from your website traffic using Google Analytics). 

If you’re using your communications and social media to plant referral seeds, look at your referrals. Are you getting more, and are they the right fit?  

Tip #4: Make your communications work harder

A secret of marketers is that they make their content work for them by packaging and repackaging it multiple times in various ways. If you create a newsletter, try posting parts of it on social media, or choose appropriate pieces to use in proactive email communications for targeted segments of your clients or prospects. 

Create once, communicate it many times. And always, include your key messages and validators. 

Don’t forget, how you talk about yourself matters. Determining what you say and how you say it is foundational to client growth and retention. 


Legal Note

Information provided by Independent Advisor Solutions by SEI, a strategic business unit of SEI Investments Company. The content is for educational purposes only and is not meant to provide investment advice or as a guarantee of any specific outcome. While SEI welcomes comments, SEI is not responsible for, and does not endorse, the opinions, advice, or recommendations posted by third parties. The opinions expressed in comments are the view(s) of the commenter(s), and do not represent the views of SEI or its affiliates. SEI reserves the right to remove any content posted by users of this site in its sole discretion.

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