“In the midst of chaos also lies opportunity.”
This is a quote I rather like, which is variously attributed to Sun Tzu or Albert Einstein.
It is regularly cited by authors of articles on disruption, creative tension and entrepreneurial opportunity. Given the situation we find ourselves in, it seems particularly apt right now.
Without in any way wanting to diminish what people are going through, it's worth thinking about what we can do to to best help clients through these challenging times and make sure our businesses emerge stronger on the other side.
So what are some of the opportunities we might explore for ourselves, our business and our clients?
1) Show we care
The first opportunity must be to show we care.
We do this by getting in touch with clients, preferably by phone.
I have a mantra that face-to-face beats phone beats email. With face-to-face denied to us, showing we care means making the calls.
We are social animals and need social interaction.
Just because a client hasn’t called you or emailed you, this doesn’t mean that they don’t want to hear from you.
Words of reassurance, and showing you do care for them and their well-being, will mean a huge amount.
Start with those you know are usually a little anxious at times like this, and who become more nervous when there's market volatility.
You don’t have to take this on all yourself.
It's often the case that clients are more used to speaking with a team member or one of the team administrators. They may have built stronger and friendlier relationships, in which case they are ideally placed to be the ones to get in touch.
When we did this in my old practice in the chaos of the 2008 financial crisis, it was often mentioned by clients for years afterwards just how much it meant that we got in touch when others did not.
2) Let people know you are open for business
The second opportunity is to demonstrate that while it may not be business as usual, you are still operating.
Update your website to let people know this is the case - this is probably one of the only times clients will happily tolerate a pop-up on your website.
Don’t bury it in your news or blog pages. Instead put it front and centre.
Let people know you are operating, even if not exactly normally.
3) Help clients be in touch
There's a range of great resources and content being produced by our favourite marketers (and fellow Illuminate contributors) such as Phil Bray, Jon Pittham and Faith Liversedge to support you in your marketing and client communications at this time.
These also include guides which outline how to use video communication tools like Zoom, which not everyone intuitively knows how to use.
4) Communicate more
There's a few options here.
You could up your newsletter frequency, send more emails and/or improve your social media game.
People are online more; they have more time to read.
It may be that you are getting more done with time at home and less distractions, and other people may be in the same boat (of course, that will depend on each person's home situation, and whether there are kids to home school or not!)
Help clients understand and make sense of the situation where you can.
Point them to useful resources, and remember they don’t just have to be yours – sharing is caring.
If you're not confident in your own writing, then you could look at buying in content if you don't do this already.
The marketers mentioned above are all keen to help, and have reduced or removed pricing to help you get helpful information and articles to your clients.
But when you're planning articles and resources to share, don't think it has to be all financial planning and investment markets. Clients are interested in a lot more than that, particularly now.
5) Try different forms of communication
If you've wanted to use different ways of communicating with clients before now, it seems like now is as good a time as any to try this out.
Maybe you've always wanted to do videos or podcasts? Currently there are lots of deals on the tools and apps which can help.
Clients and prospects won't be expecting production quality video or podcasts right now.
They understand you will be working from your home office or kitchen table with your smartphone. They won’t criticise you for trying something different.
You can use video apps like Bigvu for autocue prompting, iMovie or Adobe RU for editing and Dolby for cleaning up your microphone audio.
My tip here is to put your phone on a tripod, or at least a stable surface, and then give it a go.
Videos and podcasts don’t have to be long - just think what you might want to know if you weren't an adviser.
Be creative, and try to show confidence.
We're all prone to being self-critical, so if you're not sure of the final result, then run it by your team members first.
It's also worth exploring the use of infographics and graphics you can use on social media. A picture speaks a thousand words and all that.
6) Revisit your prospects
Take the time to revisit your prospects, the enquiries that didn’t convert and your professional connections.
You know there is untapped business there, and by getting in touch you show you are willing to help. This is an ideal time to rekindle or refresh relationships that may have gone stale.
7) Improve and grow
The final opportunity here is to work on self, team and the business.
Ask yourself: What's hanging about on my ‘must get done’ list?
This might be anything from website upgrades, company policy reviews, team training or software training.
It man mean adding new copy to your website or putting together new marketing collateral.
You could bring your continuing professional development (CPD) up to date (perhaps via some virtual CPD).
You may want to revise your business continuity plan with in line actual experience.
Or maybe just read a book you always meant to, or join and participate in an online forum or community. The possibilities are endless.
I will close by wishing everyone and their families well. My thoughts are particularly with anyone who has a loved one working in the NHS, or any other essential service, as I do.
Remember to find time for them, and for yourself, amidst all this chaos.