Originally published in Advisor Perspectives, December 5, 2016
The only worthy goal of a client communication is to enhance the perception that you are likeable and trustworthy.
E-mail and social media give you a platform to communicate easily with your clients. Used correctly, client communications are beneficial. Unfortunately, I rarely see communications that add value. Here are some of the problems – and six ways you can quickly and inexpensively improve your communications.
Your communications fall into a predictable pattern. They are text-dense and consist solely of your views about investing. Recently, the election has spawned much discussion about the impact of the new administration on investors. Your views are well-stated and your predictions have a sound basis.Nevertheless, you’d be better off without those communications.They’re often too long. They’re boring. On the merits, your predictions about future events are unlikely to be more accurate than those of the pundits who engage in stock-picking and market timing (with very limited success.) Maya Angelou once said, “…People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”I don’t feel anything when I read most client communications.
When I’m asked to review client communications, the first question I ask is: “What’s the goal?” I get one of two responses. Either there is none or the firm is trying to demonstrate its expertise.Neither will enhance your reputation.The only worthy goal of a client communication is to enhance the perception that you are likeable and trustworthy.Group Therapy Associates, a counseling and coaching agency, phrased it this way on their website: “Emotional connection is the feeling within that says ‘this person is present with me and I am safe with them.’”Take another look at your client communications. Is that what they convey? Isn’t that what you want your communications to convey?
There’s a lot of data on the power of images. Most of the information we process daily is visual. We process visual images much more easily than text. In fact, by some estimates, we process visuals 60,000 times faster than we process text.Speed of processing is important because there’s ample evidence our attention span is shrinking. The average attention span in 2015 was 8.25 seconds. In 2000, it was 12 seconds.Only 4% of page views last more than 10 minutes. About 17% of page views last less than 4 seconds.What does this data tell you? The chance of your clients reading a lengthy, text-dense e-mail is small.
Here are some practical suggestions to improve your client communications: