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Connecting with clients and prospects during a pandemic

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The first quarter of 2020 was a total dichotomy in terms of our national health, the economy and our quality of life. Coming into January much of life seemed positive; how rapidly reality can change. I am reminded of Charles Dickens’ novel, “A Tale of Two Cities.” The novel opens with, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” That sums up the last three months.

The world has changed in just a few months. These have become dangerous and uncertain times for each of us, our families, our clients and their employees, and prospects. We’ve all had to get used to a new reality, one that is filled with daily updates regarding the number of infections and deaths around the world and where we live. We seemingly overnight have learned a new vocabulary: “social distancing,” “self-quarantine” and “shelter in place.”

We’ve had to adapt to various restrictions on our mobility, access to products and services, supply-chain shortages, and personal isolation. Gathering places like restaurants and bars have been shuttered; millions of hard-working people are suddenly unemployed through no fault of their own; and 75% of hotels nationally are vacant. Part of the very soul of our lives has been temporarily severed: weddings have been indefinitely postponed; funerals have been put on hold; worshipping at church services has moved online; and family gatherings have become virtual. That’s a lot to absorb in a matter of weeks. And yet, we are doing it. We have adjusted our business and social behaviors and together we will emerge from this a stronger and better society. We all must persevere.

In the meantime, while your employees are sheltering and you are somewhat hunkered down, we still have businesses to run and our clients need us now more than ever in our lifetimes. Think about it: your clients and prospects are concerned, anxious, scared, or worse. They need a trusted adviser to help them get through this crisis. You need to rise to the occasion; that’s what business leaders do to help the customers they serve during difficult times.

So what strategies can you and your team implement? These unprecedented circumstances require some creative, out-of-the-box thinking. It’s not business as usual. Let’s face it, your clients and prospects do not want to meet with you in person. For that matter, you and your employees are likely working from home at least part of the week. So where does that leave you?

Consider immediately developing a marketing and communications campaign to maintain regular contact with existing clients, prospective clients, and important business relationships. Elements can include:

  • Twice weekly or weekly email campaign to your entire database providing updates, commentary on changes in laws, regulations and restrictions
  • Regular blog content on pertinent topics that can be archived in a library on your website
  • Periodic webinar series, including PPT presentations, regarding relevant issues such as cost-containment strategies, sources of business financing, best practices in HR, labor law concerns, new voluntary or lifestyle benefits, etc.

You may have to reach out to some of your important business relationships (attorney, accountant, banking relationship) and ask them to collaborate with you. That’s fine; they are in the same boat as you are right now anyway, and should welcome the opportunity to maintain positive contact with the market place. And they can include their clients in your campaign which can potentially lead to more business for your firm, as well for their organization.

Right now your clients and prospective clients have the time to spend learning new approaches to managing their business operations and they have a very active interest in hearing from a valuable and trusted adviser. You cannot be frozen like a deer in the headlights. It’s time to be proactive. Your business and family relationships are counting on you. Now more than ever before, you need to leverage telephonic and electronic communications to stay connected with your community. This is a winning strategy. I know, because we have helped any number of advisers over the years to create these kinds of communication campaigns, and that was long before the current crises. Consider that with the current working environment, you have a much more receptive audience to your message that also has time to absorb what you are communicating. And most of all, they need your advice and counsel. Step up and make a difference. Everyone will be better for it.

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