24th March, 2020 - Webinar replay

Adapting your marketing during the coronavirus crisis

Phil Bray 0:01
Welcome everybody to today’s webinar. It’s one o’clock. So, we will make a start. We’ll do the obligatory sound test first of all, so if a couple of people could just maybe drop us a line on the chat function to say that they can hear us, that will be fantastic. That’ll be really great. Thank you, everybody. They’re all coming through – marvellous. Right, so huge understatement to say that we really do live in strange times. First thing I’ll say is that I hope everyone’s well, keeping safe and above all, keeping your distance. And today’s webinar is all about how firms should be changing their marketing right now. What should they be doing? How should they be reacting? I want to make it really practical and interactive. So we’re joined by Dan, who is normally sat by my side when we run these webinars. But Dan is sat in Derby, I’m in Nottingham, because we’re practising good social distancing. So we’re at least 20 miles apart. So Dan, do you want to say hi to everybody?

Dan Campbell 1:05
Yeah. Hi, everybody. If people can just let me know in the comments if they can hear me as well as they can hear Phil, that would be greatly appreciated. Let’s have a quick look. Perfect. Yeah, it looks like they can hear us both, Phil.

Phil Bray 1:20
Fantastic. So, Dan’s gonna keep me on time. And he’s going to pipe up when we’ve got any questions. So we really want today to be practical and interactive. But from a practical perspective, the slides are slightly more detailed than we might normally do. And we will be sending those through later on this evening, with any links that we talked about and reference during the webinar. For interactive, please keep your questions coming through. We’ll do everything we can to answer them. Dan will pipe up and stop me. And we’ll talk about the questions, and we’ll try and answer them as we go. And we’ve got time for some Q&A at the end. I suspect this webinar will last about an hour. But happy to hang around afterwards, for anybody who wants to ask any questions of myself or Dan.

Dan Campbell
Just before you start, Phil, one question, we’ve been asked by a few people in the comments – will we be sharing the recording of this?

Phil Bray

Dan Campbell 2:14
An absolutely, yeah. We’ve got the little red light flashing at us, telling us that this is being recorded. So we’ll be sharing that in due course.

Phil Bray 2:21
Yeah. So later on this evening, I’ll send an email out to everybody who’s joined the webinar with copy of the slides, the recording, and any links, which we refer to during the webinar. And then if there’s anything else people need, then they can give us a shout. So hopefully, that deals with that. So as we say, it’ll probably take an hour. Ask your questions as we go through. And hopefully, this will be really useful for you. So, let’s move the slides on. There we go. So what are we going to talk about? We’re going to look ahead as to why the next few weeks (we believe) could define your business. We’re gonna talk about three groups of people you should be communicating with right now, and the key messages we believe you should be communicating. And the key to this, of course, is – it’s what we believe. So, feel free to challenge, feel free to question, as we go through. Then we’ll look at six things you should change, and one you shouldn’t, about your marketing right now, in the face of this pandemic. Going to round up some useful resources. And we’re going to talk a little bit with a slide at the end about how we can help, and how we are helping. So if that’s okay, well move on. So looking ahead, I’ve believed for a while now – and this applies as much to us at The Yardstick Agency, as it does you and your businesses – how we act now, will impact our business for years to come. And how we act now will enhance or damage our brand equity. So think about, who do you want to be seen as? Do you want to be Timpson’s? Or do you want to be Waterstones or Sports Direct? Do you want to be Gary Neville? Or do you want to be Richard Branson? So Timpson’s have had some great publicity and feedback for how they’ve treated their staff, in the face of this crisis. Waterstones and Sports Direct? Not so much. Waterstones, at the weekend, got a real bashing from some of their employees. Sports Direct took 12 hours overnight to decide that they weren’t an essential service, and would in fact be closing. But nevertheless, the damage was done. And there’s been other examples of companies really performing well, and those performing badly as well. Who do you want to be on the other side of this? Do you want to be Timpson’s and Gary Neville? Or do you want to be be Waterstones, Sports Direct or Richard Branson? And the same applies to us, as much as it does to you. And for me, the right decisions now will lead to a stronger, long-term future. I spoke to our team at The Yardstick Agency, last Tuesday, when we made the decision to send everybody to work remotely. And we talked about, what type of business do we want to walk back into, in two or three months time? When we open the doors of the office, what’s the business that we want to walk back to? And we want to walk back to business that’s stronger, that has enhanced its reputation. And I suggest, most financial advisers and planners fall into that category as well. And for me, now is the time to double-down on your marketing. When things are going well, we shouldn’t take our foot off the gas. And when there’s trouble ahead, we should accelerate harder. So I remember back, I started in financial services in 1995. And, those months you had a good month, you were told, “Don’t take your foot off the gas.” And you always did. And you were always proved wrong. So when things are going well, don’t take your foot off the gas. And when there’s trouble ahead, accelerate harder. And for some people and businesses, there is trouble ahead right now. So these are the times we’ve got to double-down on our marketing. Albeit one of the things we’ll talk about later is being more agile, and the things that you should potentially change. And, for us, we’ve spent two or three weeks on this now, and I believe there are three groups of people that we should be communicating with. Clients, prospects and suspects, and professional connections. And they’re all really important to the future of your businesses. And at the moment, they all need three things: information, confidence, and reassurance. Our client surveys that we run – we run many clients surveys – of investors, consumers, on behalf of our clients, financial advisers, and planners. And they all tell us a fairly similar story. They tell us that the clients look to their adviser and planner for these three things: information, confidence, and reassurance. So if they look to their planner, in the good times for that information, they’re going to look to their planner in these difficult times, for those three things as well. And every client, every prospect, every suspect, every professional connection, will want those three things in different doses. And they will want them administered in different ways, as well. But they’ll all want the combination of those three things. And one of the things we’ll talk about, as we go through this, you’ll hear me use the term suspect, prospect, client and advocate. And we talked about those four stages a lot. So it’s probably worth explaining them. Suspect would be somebody who is aware of your business, but hasn’t actually reached out and got in touch with you. They might have seen you… They’ve driven past your office, they’ve seen you online, they’ve seen you make up social media posts, Unbiased, VouchedFor profiles, that sort of stuff. So they know you, but you don’t know them. They become a prospect when they get in touch. They pick up the phone, send an email, fill out an enquiry form, whatever it is, but at that point, there is a… They’ve reached out, and they potentially will become a client. When they decide to become a client, clearly they move from prospect, to client. And our ideal, is that planners are turning clients into advocates. Because advocates are those people who will give testimonials. They’ll have their picture on a website. They’ll appear in clients stories and videos. And they’ll refer you on to others. But we talk a lot about suspects, prospects, clients, and advocates. And, they’re all going to want different things. But they probably all fall into these three categories. And as I say, they’ll all want them in slightly different ways. So what are those key messages that we need to be delivering? And before we get to that, Dan, have we got any questions? I’m just gonna have a slurp of my tea.

Dan Campbell
Make sure it’s a quick slurp, because no questions here.

Phil Bray
Fair enough, no problem. If anybody does have any questions, then let’s get them in to Dan. And in terms of information? Some people are gonna want information about what does the current volatility mean to them? Markets have clearly sunk, substantially over the past few weeks. And the way they’ve dropped has been, really quite sharp. So some clients, some suspects, prospects and professional connections, will want information about, well, what does that mean to them? And will they still have enough? Paul Armson was spot on when he wrote his book, Enough. And all our clients surveys, when we ask about what they – what clients – want from financial planning? They want to know whether they’ve got enough. And it’s such an important question to answer. And clearly some people will be now thinking, stock markets have fallen, investment values have fallen, do I still have enough? What other information might they be needing now? Well, a lot of people will want to know about the measures announced by government, and how it will help them and their business. We’ve gone from a budget, which was what – two weeks ago? When the chancellor announced £3,000 grants, to businesses that don’t pay business rates. That’s been increased to £10,000. And we’ve had a whole load of other measures since then, with more to come today on the on the self-employed front as well, I believe. So, people will want to know, your clients, people who… prospects, professional connections, and suspects, will want to know how these things affect them. There’ll be other things as well. Are you available to contact right now? Are you working remotely? How can I get in touch with you? So really practical information clients will want to know, and we’ve got to communicate those things to them. And they’re going to want to know about their personal financial position, in the short term, specifically for business owners. I was on a call last week with 100 marketing agency owners, and some of the stories there were really heartbreaking. They’re going to be laying people off. And they’re going to look to their financial planner, they’re going to look to their accountant, for guidance, for information. And that position is changing constantly. So if you’re the person there with that information, then that’s gold. That’s so important. Has anybody on the webinar – be really interesting to know, just put into the chat – is, what are clients coming to you about right now? What are the sorts of things they’re saying to you? And what have you done to reassure them that you’re still around to help? And that the business is working remotely? And as broadly speaking, as it can be, it’s business as usual? So put some of those things in the chat if that’s okay. Dan, what have we got coming through?

Dan Campbell 12:20
Okay, so one of the questions clients are saying is, “I’ve lost money? Could it get worse?” Right, let’s have a look at some of these coming through. So they’re asking for reassurance that this is going to find a bottom and then turn around, they’ve been asked whether their income withdrawal position would be affected? Or there’s a saying it’s eerily quiet, with clients not checking in at all.

Phil Bray 12:46
And I think that’s a really interesting point. And I suspect, some advisers, some firms, might, how do I put this delicately? Might be resting on their laurels a little bit, thinking that their clients aren’t worried because they’re not getting in touch? And I don’t think that we can make that leap. I firmly believe that some clients will be worried. But for various reasons haven’t got in touch yet. If you are a business owner, or if you’re a senior executive, you’ll probably have been in crisis mode, and firefighting mode, over the past two weeks. For some businesses, they’ve been trying to save their business, some senior executives will be trying to ensure that their entire teams are safe, healthy and working remotely. So, these people who have been preoccupied over the past two weeks, I believe we might get a second wave of questions from clients, potentially, as things settle down, and they start to assess the impact of the stock market volatility on their position. And I think it’s really important, that we recognise that might happen. But I don’t necessarily think, clients not getting in touch, automatically means they’re not worried. It’d be really difficult to not be worried right now, which is why I believe we all need to get on the front foot. So in terms of information, they’re the sorts of things I think clients might be asking for. And we can take a copy of the chat, and maybe put some other stuff that clients are coming to planners about, into these slides when we update them. So the third… the second thing sorry, is confidence. Planners will want to know that they’re still on track to achieve their plans. If not, they’re going to want to have the confidence that you’re going to have a solution. That solution might be to work an extra couple of years, whatever it is. That is not for us to say what that might be on this call, but they’re going to want to know that you have confidence, they have confidence in you, that you have a solution. They’re gonna want to know and have confidence that you and your team are still there for them. In the short term, are you working remotely? Can they get in touch? There might be practical issues that they’re wanting to invest right now, and how do they do it? And also, that your business is still going to be there for them in the long-term. Because I know how important financial planning is to these clients. And I know financial planning changes lives, because I speak to consumers and clients about that all the time. And they’re gonna want to know that you’re there in the short, medium and long-term for them. And also, they’re going to want to have confidence – the faith they put in you and the plan, and the patience they have – to ride out current volatility, will be rewarded. Dan, I’ve seen a few things coming through. Is there anything that we should know about?

Dan Campbell 15:49
So, a lot of conversation about things that clients have been asking. A good comment from Andy Hart, “This is our Olympics, this is what we train for,” which is a very good way to look at it. We’ve also got a few with clients saying they should have predicted the drop, and others who are seeing the drop as a sale, and actually doubling-down and and having more paid in. But for the most part, it’s a lot of the things we’ve already discussed.

Phil Bray 16:21
Okay, now, I think Andy spot on there. I think this is the time for advisers and planners to flourish, and really show their worth. We often talk… Advisers and planners often think that it’s hard for them to demonstrate value, because they don’t have something tangible. And I wouldn’t necessarily agree with that. But now is the time for them to step up and really show their worth. In terms of those clients who say we should have predicted the market downturn? That’s a tough audience. Third thing they want is reassurance. Reassurance that this will pass, and that they should remain invested and stay patient. That you’re there for them. That investment markets will recover over time. It’s not for me to say when or how. And you need to communicate those messages based on your clients, and how you invest money for them, etc. But they’re going to want reassurance that markets will recover, that their portfolio is diversified, and that financial planning is essential right now. Never before, has it been more important, I don’t believe, and that I guess goes back to to Andy’s comment. Originally, I said that the mainstream media were wrong, about a lot of this stuff. And that, what their job is to frankly get clicks, these days. So they’re going to want reassurance about some of the stuff that they’re going to see in the mainstream media. So for me, it’s about information, confidence, and reassurance. And there seems to be now, four key types of communication: Business continuity, market and investment updates, lifestyle pieces – and yes, they’re still important – and stuff around government assistance. Those are the four key subject areas that we’re writing stuff on right now. And we’ll probably continue to write stuff on for some time to come. And business continuity pieces are around what you’re doing for the business, and how you will continue to serve your clients. How you will look after your team and how you will provide – as close as it can be – business as usual. And for me that starts with an email to clients, prospects and professional connections, updating them on your plans. And I would be really interested to know if anybody hasn’t done that, right now. Because it seems to me the most obvious thing to be doing. Because they’re going to want that reassurance, and confidence that you’re around. I would update your website as well. Now I’m not a big fan of pop-ups. But I think they have a useful part to play here. And we put one on The Yardstick Agency website. So there’s a pop-up as soon as you get in there. Once you’ve read it, and you’ve clicked the cross, it will disappear, and you won’t see it again. But it’s not annoyingly appearing on every single page. But there’s no guarantee that if you put a blog on your website, and about what you’re doing now for the business continuity, the plans that you’ve got, that someone will see it? But for me a pop-up explaining what you do, will reassure existing clients and also show those prospects (people that you potentially were going to work with, but haven’t yet) – who will be hurting, probably more so than your clients because they haven’t had your years of wisdom and education and knowledge – what it is that you’re doing. So on this occasion – not a big fan than usually – but on this occasion, I think a pop-up is useful. Update your Google My Business listing. This is the section that appears on a brand search. So when someone searches for your business, whatever the business name is, ideally, your website should appear on the left hand side. And on the right hand side, you will see your Google My Business listing. And that’s a free listing with Google, that talks about your office, your address, opening hours, you can collect ratings and reviews on there as well. And I would be updating that, to show that you’re still open for business. I’d add a link to your blog, in the email signature. So as I said, put a pop-up on, put a blog on your website about what you’re planning to do, and keep that updated as well. Because things may change. But dozens of people will see your email signature every day. So why not put a link in there to the blog? And use social media as well to communicate what these changes are. But because social media – I think, as we’ll see in a bit – is going to be even busier, over the coming weeks and months, your messages might get lost a little bit. So think about changing your headers. We’ve all got a banner header on our Twitter profile, on our Facebook profile, and on our LinkedIn profile. So why not change that? Why not change that to talk about being business as usual, giving your contact details, that sort of stuff as well. So all these things I think are important from a business continuity prospective, and they all need to be kept up to date as well – to remind people about the messages, and also anything that changes. Dan, have we had anything come in?

Dan Campbell 21:42
Yes, we’ve got a great question come in from Emily. So, “Should business continuity be a separate communication, or combined with the reassurance on investments, etc.?”

Phil Bray 21:52
Hey Emily, how’re you doing? I would do it as a separate communication personally. I think, for me, I would probably make all three types: The business continuity, marketing, investment updates and government assistance, I would probably make them as separate communications? Because otherwise they could just be huge in length. You could be getting to 2,000 – 3,000 words, especially to do the government assistance piece. So I would make them separate communications? I wouldn’t worry right now, about communicating “too much”. You could always do a quick survey, one of the things we suggested in our Coronavirus communications guide, was to run a quick survey with your clients, at some point. Are you getting this right? Are you getting the communications right? Is there anything that they would like to get from you, which they’re not currently getting? But for me, personally, just to make it a bit more digestible? I would send the business continuity, the market/investment stuff, and the government assistance, as separate communications…

Dan Campbell
Sorry to cut in there, Phil, Emily’s just raised another great point on that. Is there an ideal word count for this sort of communication?

Phil Bray
You know what? I don’t think there is. I think you say things as succinctly as you can, but that’s good practice anyway. But some of this stuff coming out from the government is really quite lengthy, and takes a lot of understanding, especially around the furloughed workers, etc. So I would… No, I don’t think there is. I think you just use as many words or as few words as necessary to make the point. And to get that point across, in as much clarity as possible. Anything else Dan?

Dan Campbell 23:47
Okay, great question in from Helena. “Do you think a call or email is better? I have mostly phoned clients initially to check-in and talk with them. But, is an email considered better than a call?”

Phil Bray 24:00
I think… So one of the things we’re going to talk about in a minute, is the importance of picking up the phone. And I think for clients, and potentially prospects as well, picking up the phone is hugely important. But there are times when it is impossible to pick up the phone to everybody, and answer all their questions that you’re going to have. Take today. I think there’s some new stuff coming out around self-employed people. There’s been a lot for business owners. And when markets rise or fall, you might want to send another communication. I don’t think you can necessarily communicate those changes, as quickly as you’d want to by phone? So personally, I’d be doing both. I’ll be picking up the phone and I’ll be sending these communications, as and when necessary. Ok, Dan?

Dan Campbell 24:47
Perfect. So good question in from Lynn. “Some of my solicitors say they are getting too many blankets emails. Should you personalise each one?”

Phil Bray 24:59
I would always try and… That’s an interesting question. It depends how many solicitors you deal with, Lynn. If you’ve got a handful of really good solicitors that you’ve got a close relationship, that introduced to you, then yeah, absolutely. Personalise as much as you can. And you’re right, there is a huge number of emails coming out right now. From your local coffee shop, to the local dentist that I’ve had recently, etc. But there’s something different about the relationship between a planner and their client. Your clients will look to you to secure their financial future. Your clients will look to you to see whether they have enough, and whether they still have enough. So I think there’s something very different, about the relationship between financial planners and their clients. In terms of professional connections, I would be inclined to tailor the communications as much as you can Lynn, and maybe pick up the phone as as well. But there are times when a blanket communication is the most efficient and effective way of getting something out there. And I do think that’s acceptable, because the relationship is different between client and planner, and most other consumers and suppliers. Shall I press on, Dan?

Dan Campbell 26:16
Right. So there’s a few questions that have come in, that I believe we’ll probably cover during the webinar. So I’ll save those. But just on the subject of Google My Business listings, a question from Jamie, “Where on our Google My Business page, would you suggest putting the information about us still being open? Is there a section which shows this at the top of the landing page?”

Phil Bray 26:37
So on your Google My Business listing, you can update your opening hours? So if opening hours have been tweaked because of working remotely, then you can do that. But there’s also a section where you can add posts. If you scroll down on your Google My Business listing, you can add posts. You can put an image next to it. And we all know images mean posts get more engagement. You need to update it every seven days. So it’s worth just going on there and updating it every week, that you’re still open for business, the steps you’ve taken, etc, etc. It’s really easy to do. Just scroll down when you log into Google My Business listing. And it’s really easy to find where you can add that post. And you just need to put a… you can add links there as well to the blog, if someone wants to get more information. Shall I crack on, Dan?

Dan Campbell 27:28
Yes, absolutely.

Phil Bray 27:29
So message delivery for market stuff, and government assistance and lifestyle pieces. So, I’m a big fan of picking up the phone to clients. I’ve spoken to a lot of planners this week. And a few of them have been literally wall to wall telephone calls, ringing every single client. And there’s some really good reasons for that, which we’ll come to. Ad hoc communications. Things are moving so quickly. We’ve had a huge number of announcements from the government around how they’re helping freelancers, self-employed, business owners, etc. But it’s important to keep the communications coming out, providing they’re useful, relevant and informative. Not a big fan of blanket communications if they’re not. So I wouldn’t be for example, sending today anything around self-employed to employed workers, because it’s not relevant to them. Blogs and news articles are tremendously important at this point. Because if you write the blog, the news article or you pay someone to do it for you, they can go on your website (that’ll help you SEO). They can go in electronic newsletters, and electronic newsletters are really showing their power right now. I spoke to a firm this week, who have received a bunch of printed newsletters recently, and they can’t send them out. They don’t mention Coronavirus at all. It would look incredibly insensitive to send them out. So electronic newsletters, blogs and news articles mean you can be far more agile. And once you’ve written the blogs, once you’ve written the news articles, they can go in your newsletters and they can go out on social media messages as well. And I’m also a big fan of, “I was thinking of you,” messages. Always been a big fan of these. And they’re not quite as weird as they sound. But just to pick up the phone, send a WhatsApp message, send a direct message on Twitter or Facebook or LinkedIn. Whatever the client likes, whichever way the client likes to be communicated with… “I was thinking of you. Hope you’re okay right now.” These things are going to be… people are going to remember how you communicate with them right now. And they’re going to remember, in months and years to come, that you were there for them. And in your newsletters, I’d still be writing lifestyle pieces. Lifestyle pieces are always popular. Most financial advisers and planners we speak to, get a bit nervous around the lifestyle stuff. We know that it keeps people – in normal times – it keeps people coming back to their adviser or planners newsletter. It gives them a reason to open it, even if for whatever reason that month, they’re not particularly interested in the articles which are directly related to financial advice and planning. And if we write an article that is around – or in normal times, if we’d have written a piece about “10 things to do in the Easter holidays with your kids,” we know that would have got a really large number and a really high proportion of clicks, to keep the lifestyle stuff going, but clearly tweak it, to reflect the times that we’re in. And I think stuff around mental well-being and financial well-being again, are going to be hugely important right now. And over the coming weeks and months. Don’t just be talking about markets. Let’s mix it up a bit with more lifestyle stuff as well. But just to summarise there. For me, the key types of communication, business continuity, market and investment stuff, that’s really quite reactive, depending on how markets are done. Lifestyle stuff is still important, albeit change the focus, and clearly the government assistance stuff, as it keeps being dripped out. All of them really, really important. Dan, any more questions before we move on to the things we should be changing about our marketing?

Dan Campbell 31:25
Absolutely. We’ve got a question in from Lynn. “Some of these things are very difficult for small firms. Any tips?”

Phil Bray 31:33
Outsource it, Lyn – I’ll give you a telephone number later! No, in reality, I completely agree. It is very difficult to stay on top of stuff right now. There is a huge demand on planners time. And I know planners that are starting at the crack of dawn and finishing past midnight. And they feel a huge responsibility for their clients right now as well. So I completely get it. And Lynn, I suppose you’ve either got to carve out some time to do it, which isn’t easy. Or find a service that you trust to communicate with your clients. This isn’t a sell today. But if you wanna have a conversation, we’ll have a conversation. But those are the two options you’ve got, but I completely get it isn’t easy to do.

Dan Campbell 32:19
Brilliant. Next question from Helena. “What system would you use to send out a blanket email?”

Phil Bray 32:27
We use a system called Dot Digital. It’s not the cheapest system in the world, but it is good. I would suggest that most firms though, who want a pretty simple system to start using, would use MailChimp. There are various different levels. It’s pretty accessible. Doesn’t take too much setting up, so I’d suggest most use MailChimp. But if other people have got other systems that they would suggest, please put them in the chat, and Dan will share that.

Dan Campbell 32:57
Fantastic. We’ve had a quick…. Oh okay, sorry. We had a comment from Martin, saying the line has gone a little bit wonky, but he’s just confirmed it’s his internet.

Phil Bray 33:06
Oh okay, fair enough. Glad mine’s still holding up!

Dan Campbell 33:10
Okay, so final question for the moment, from Phil. “Will yardstick be writing some stock financial planning articles, related to the budget and to Coronavirus that Yardstick clients can access? So for example, around the number of residency days in the UK for overseas clients stuck in the UK, or about conveyancing/completion on mortgages when there is no face to face signing with solicitors? Stuff like that.”

Phil Bray 33:34
We have… yeah, Phil, we absolutely write quite a lot of what we call syndicated content each month. So the content we write is either bespoke or syndicated. Bespoke means it’s written specifically for that firm, syndicated has got a lower price point and means it’s available to multiple firms. And unsurprisingly, the syndicated content this month is dominated by Coronavirus. And for clients of Yardstick who want to have some input in what we’re writing, absolutely. The content team would love some fresh ideas right now, frankly, because they’re writing about similar things all the time. And there’s an obvious reason why they’re doing it. But, the content team are always open to new ideas. So Phil, if you want to drop me a line, “phil@theyardstickagency.co.uk”, I’m really happy to pass those ideas on to the content team. So, things we should be changing about our marketing. Now this started as five things and I’ve left this slide as it i,s but it’s actually six, so we got a bonus one. But as I say, the actions you dictate now, I firmly believe dictate the business that we have in years to come. And for me, we need to be focusing on two things, protecting our existing clients, from themselves potentially, from making poor decisions. But also looking after them putting an arm around. Metaphorically way, of course. And taking advantage of some of the opportunities that present themselves. Because there are opportunities from this, not least a larger online audience, which we’ll talk about in a second. And that means that we need to be agile. And that means there’s a few things we need to change. So the first thing I would say is, pick up the phone. If you haven’t done it already, I’d make a schedule and start phoning clients. Lend them your ear, your shoulder, talk about the markets, talk about how they’re feeling, talk about the weather – talk about whatever. But people remember that simple gesture, of you picking up the phone, long after this passes. It will turn clients into advocates, and it’ll turn prospects into clients. And don’t just pick up the phone to clients. Pick up the phone to prospects as well, and your professional connections. Clients first, clearly. But after that, prospects and professional connections. Because prospects will be hurting right now, more than clients. Prospects will be more worried than clients. They’ll need that boost of confidence, and that reassurance, more than a lot of your clients. Because they haven’t had the years of your knowledge, wisdom, coaching, and all those good things that financial planning provides to them. These might be DIY investors. They might be people who haven’t invested before. They might be clients who have been advised by certain types of advisers who haven’t been as reassuring, who don’t put so much focus on planning. So pick up the phone to them. Clients, prospects, professional connections. Lend them your ear, lend them your shoulder, and that simple gesture will be remembered in many months and years to come. Number two, I would now have… as things settled down, hopefully, as we get into the new regime of working from home, and hopefully markets settle a bit. I would be renewing your focus on referrals. That always the best type of new enquiry. I’ve never had anybody argue against that, I’m quite happy to listen to arguments against it. But they’re always the best type of new enquiry. They have an immediate need. Otherwise, why are they asking to be referred on? Or why are they happy to be referred on? They’ve probably heard good things about the planner they’re being referred to. They have the lowest cost of acquisition, and the highest conversion rates. And your clients and professional connections will have friends, work colleagues, and employees, whatever, who are hurting right now. So make an offer to speak to these people. And Andy’s doing some great emails at the moment. And I’ll put links to those in the webinar notes. And Andy’s put some great a great line in there about how it’s his duty to help as many people as possible. And I do believe it is. So offer to speak to people they know. But be helpful, sensitive, and useful. I’m going to use those three words a lot over these last few slides. Helpful, sensitive, and useful. This isn’t a time for overt sales. It’s a time for doing those three things. Do those three things, be there for people, be patient, and you’ll get the rewards. And I would also consider right now, reducing the barriers to entry. For some people after markets have fallen, it might be counterintuitive to go and pay for advice, to go and pay for planning. But actually, that’s probably what they need. So why not think of some sort of special offer – some sort of incentive, some sort of… something to reduce the barrier to entry, to make you more accessible. And then start communicating that to your clients and professional connections. Third thing I’d do, is absolutely embrace social media. The lockdown, as it is right now – and it’s probably going to get more… tighter over the coming days. The lockdowns mean we’re going to spend, we’re all going to spend so much more time online. And that means we’re going to be spending more time on social media, for good or bad. But there’s just going to be more people heading online, looking at websites, looking at social media channels. So it’s important that we now embrace social media. Now I know there are some advisers and planners out there who are nervous about social media. But now’s the time to feel the fear and do it anyway. Now’s the time to jump in with both feet. Because your target clients, people who you can help and you can benefit right now, will be hanging out online. The trick is for you to hang out online where they do, and be again, helpful, sensitive and useful. Answer their questions through posts, or post your own content, based on questions you think they might be asking. But just be online be present, and it’s a great way of, frankly, networking, when we can’t do it face to face. There’s so much benefit we can have by hanging out on social media. I’ve been speaking to a few planners who are now starting to see, and believe that they’ll have a bit of time over the coming weeks or months, to maybe invest a bit of time in a few projects, and start working on the business rather than in it. And this is one of the things that I would put on their list -that list. Embracing social media, diving in with two feet. Being useful, being sensitive, being helpful. Answering questions, writing your own content and distributing that. But I think now’s the time for advisers to, as I say, embrace social media. Dan, did I see a question coming through then?

Dan Campbell 40:44
Yes, we’ve got a great question in from Caroline. So, “I’d be interested in your view around ensuring communications are compliant. Our compliance advisers were very twitchy about how much reassurance we should give around the market rebound. I felt some of their suggested amendments to our communications undermined the reassurance we were trying to give.”

Phil Bray 41:05
It’s really interesting, and quite hard to comment without seeing necessarily what the original blog said, and what they wanted changing. But it’s a really good point. For a couple of reasons, I think. In these times of wanting to communicate in as timely way as possible, getting compliant to sign off, isn’t always necessarily the easiest thing to do. What I would say is a lot of this stuff that is being put out, isn’t necessarily, or aren’t necessarily financial promotions. So the first thing I would ask is, “Does something need compliance sign off in the first place?” If it’s not a financial promotion, it probably doesn’t. But, you will have your own rules, especially if you are a member of a network. But what I would say is, like I say, an update on base initiative for the self-employed people, then it’s probably not a financial promotion. In terms of the reassurance you give to people around market updates and market bounces, I would be… what would I be doing? I would be talking about people, what’s happened historically. I think there’s some great work done by…. Mark Hibbitt from Sovereign, sent me a fantastic piece yesterday. And I will put it as a link in the email that we send out this evening on this. But I will be referring to maybe stats that’s happened before? You’ve got to be really careful about what you say. But I would have the courage of your convictions. And compliance might want to reign you back. But if you think you’re right, I would push back to compliance, which probably isn’t gonna make me very popular with some compliance departments. But I would absolutely push back. Dan, I’ve seen a few things coming through?

Dan Campbell 42:52
Yeah. So… “Do you think we should be running open webinars for clients and prospects, similar to this one, on a planning front for clients and prospects to be able to access?”

Phil Bray 43:02
Can I do that in about two slides time, if that’s okay?

Dan Campbell 43:05
Yeah, perfect, we’ll park that.

Phil Bray 43:07
I’ve got two… We’ll talk about webinars in a minute.

Dan Campbell 43:11
So, there’s quite a good bit of chat going on in the section here. So, Anthony has posted a really nice piece about essentially just doing as much as you can for clients, and showing that you care about their particular needs. Very much like they’re ringing them up and saying, you know, “I saw this and thought of you.” So a lot of people are definitely agree with that sentiment, which is very nice. But no other than that, a few questions that we’ll park for the end. So, proceed.

Phil Bray 43:43
Cool, thank you. Number four, engage with journalists. Now, more than ever, journalist needs stories, they need to fill pages. And I’ve seen a couple of stories and articles published recently, that in the scheme of things, I don’t think would have got in. But actually had been really, really helpful, both to consumers who have read these pieces, and also the firms who have been covered. So, now more than ever, journalists need you. Be original, be available and be reliable. Those three things are true in normal times, but they’re equally true now. If you make yourself available to journalists, make yourself useful, and they will want to work with you. And of course, PR publicity, all part of the marketing mix. Engage with prospects. I suspect that the focus naturally – and rightly – has been on clients, over the past – what, couple of weeks now? But now’s the perfect time to be re-engaging with old prospects. And I don’t just mean those people who made an enquiry in the last month or two, go back far further than that. Because if someone made an enquiry, I don’t know, one, two, three years ago, and for whatever reason you didn’t work with them, they didn’t work with you, you didn’t engage? Now’s the time to be going back to them. There’s no guarantee that they haven’t engaged somebody else, life might just have got in the way. And they’re going to be hurting right now. As I said earlier, they haven’t had the benefit of your knowledge, your wisdom, your coaching over these years, and therefore probably hurting more than clients. So, reach out to them with an offer of an ear or shoulder, clearly metaphorical. But just pick up the phone, and answer the questions you know they want… they’re going to ask. You’ve got a big enough data set of questions that clients will have asked you, over the past couple of weeks. Well, your prospects are going to be thinking the same things. So write blogs, write social media messages, understand what… have little speeches, have little stories, and just talk to these people. Pick up the phone, send them an email, see how they’re doing. But above all, like I say, this isn’t a time for sales, it’s a time to be helpful, sensitive and useful. As I keep saying, if you do those things and have patience, people will come back to you, and will remember what you did. Number six, I think we clearly can’t pick up the phone – it takes time to pick up the phone to everybody. Most of the time, we can get through it, and pick up the phone to most people. But mass communications now, are useful. As our webinars. And, I think I started chatting to… I’m sure she won’t mind me saying, Helena, is running a webinar for business owners in Hitchin, I think, coming up fairly shortly. And I’ve seen some webinars which are really, really useful. I’ve been on a few. Some have turned into informational webinars, some have turned into more therapeutic sessions. They generally involve a pint, but nevertheless, webinars right now, in this time we’re living in (which is going to be almost exclusively online for a period of time), webinars are going to be incredibly useful. They’re relatively straightforward to run. Something like Zoom, might cost you £40 a month for the webinar package, up to 100 people, but they are… it’s so accessible. And, people are going to have a bit more time on their hands as well. They’re going to be working from home, they may be a bit more flexible. I also think we’ve got this second wave of questions and queries coming. I do believe that we’ve got business owners, which some of them are absolutely focused on their future as a business. This is going to kill some businesses. And you’ve got another bunch of business owners who are fighting like hell to survive right now. And all business owners will be looking after their staff, or should be looking after staff. So the past two weeks has been really difficult as a business owner, as you transition people to remote working, and you start trying to understand the implications in the short, medium and long-term for your business’s future. For senior execs and managers, they also would have been transitioning their team to remote working. And I suspect a lot of these people will have been so focused on crisis management, that they will not necessarily have looked yet at the implications of the current pandemic and the market volatility, for their own situation. So I suspect, even though you’ve communicated really well over the past two weeks, I suspect there’s another wave to come. And I suspect there’s another wave of people who will want information, confidence and reassurance. And a webinar is not a bad way of doing it. Nothing beats (I don’t think) picking up the phone. But a webinar is another way of mass communicating to people. And who do we invite? Of course, clients, prospects, professional connections. But you can push it out to a wider audience as well. We’ve got a client in Europe right now, who is running webinars in different countries. And they’ve pushed it out to their database. But they’ve also done some advertising on Facebook, which is working quite nicely for them. You can obviously push it out on social media to other people who aren’t necessarily clients or prospects yet. So just think laterally, and think about who you could invite. But I really do think a webinar right now is a great way of communicating to a larger audience in a different format. So hopefully that answers the webinar question, Dan. And one thing I wouldn’t change right now is producing great content. Everything we’ve spoken about here, all the communications are spoken about, based on the foundation of great content. And now isn’t the time to be cutting back on content, and marketing generally. It sends the completely wrong signal, that this is business as usual. Now’s the time to be dialling up and doubling-down on content, and how we communicate with people. Even in normal times, I believe it’s impossible to market your business without effectively… without producing content. Now, more so than ever. Plus, of course, there’s our increased hours online. So we’re going to have more time online to engage with content, whether it’s on a website, or whether it’s via social media. And, therefore we should be doing more, in the way of content, than less. Of course, the usual rules apply. It needs to be relevant, it needs to be informative, it needs to be interesting. If you can raise a smile in these current times, that’s a good thing as well. But it needs to be all those things. As I said, be sensitive, be useful, and be patient. And it will work. I firmly believe in a content marketing strategy for all businesses we work with. And now’s the time to double-down on it. Not least, because reducing the amount of content will of course, hurt your search engine rankings, when we get a wave of people looking for financial planning when things start to turn. So one thing to not change right now, six to change. But one thing not to change, is the production of great content. Having said that, we do need to mix things up a little bit. So I just wanted to highlight a few resources that I think are useful. There’s the… If people haven’t seen it right now there’s the emoji guide to investing animation. That was a brainchild of Andrew Neligan. And we’ve produced these animations for – we’ve probably done 150 of these now – and we produce these in return for charitable donations. We’ve raised nearly £10,000 for Andrew’s two charities now, so that’s really nice. And the Money Alive videos. If people haven’t seen those, they have a good way of engaging with consumers. The Be-IQ app from Neil Bage for understanding client behaviour, I think will really come into its own right now. Andy Hart kindly said, we can put these emails on here as well, too. Andy at the Maven Adviser has done three cracking emails, that you can copy and paste, you can use the best bits of, and of course, we’ve got Carl Richards’ sketches. A picture paints 1,000 words, and Carl’s got some fantastic sketches right now, that can be used to help reassure clients, prospects and professional connections. And we’ll send links out to those, tonight when we send a recording of this and the slides. How are we helping? Well, we have developed the free guide. That’s a free guide, Your Essential Guide to Successful Client Communication, which a lot of this webinar is based on. And we go into a lot more detail about the things that you should be doing. That’s on our website. It’s free to download. And again, I’ll send a link out later. There’s a Zoom explainer, that was a brain child of Alistair Walker… A lot of advisers and planners aren’t comfortable with Zoom. Many are, but a lot aren’t. And we know that clients don’t necessarily like Zoom, don’t necessarily like video calls. And that’s based on surveys that we’ve done. So, a Zoom, a little Zoom explainer, it’s an infographic that just explains what Zoom is, and how to use it. And we’re branding those up for free. So if you want one of those, drop us a line. Again, I’ll put a link with the pieces from our webinar to explain a bit more. We’re giving free webinars. This is the first one, and we’re going to do more. And we’re opening up our content team. So, if you want an article writing, it’s a one off piece of work, that’s going to take a couple of hours, that’s fine. No long contracts to tie… no contracts at all to tie you in, frankly, just use us, and use our content team as much as you like. Pick us up and put us down. We can also add pop-ups to your website. And that’s the digital team that can do that. But we’ve opened up that content team. So, pick them up, and put us down as much as you like. And I’ll send some links through there. If there’s more we can do, tell us. Help us to help you. Tell us what you need. And if we can, we’ll do it. We’ve got decent resources within the business. But really, really want to help. We know the benefit of financial planning. We know financial planning changes lives. And we know how important financial planners are, to their clients right now. So if we can help, we will do. Just tell you what you need, and we’ll give it a go. In the meantime, we have five minutes left until two o’clock, but I’m happy to stick around for as long as necessary. But Dan, do we have any more questions?

Dan Campbell 54:19
Yeah, so, there are a few things happening in the comments section. So two sides of the spectrum to begin with. We’ve got Nick Lincoln, telling us that his washing machines broken, and then other people are understandably concerned that he’s not suitably dressed. And then we’ve got a very sensible question from Rebecca, “How far can we go back with prospects, in relation to GDPR?”

Phil Bray 54:41
I’m no lawyer. But, the first thing to do is make sure that you have the legal basis for processing their data. And there’s three legal basis which really will be applicable here. Consent – let’s assume you don’t have that. Contractual obligation – let’s assume you don’t have that, because I’m not a client. So legitimate interest is the key one. So the first thing to do is make sure you have legitimate interest within your privacy policy, and that you believe you have a legitimate interest to communicate with them. How far would I go back? If you’ve got the data, I’d go back three years – maybe a bit longer? And if what you send is useful, relevant and informative, people will welcome receiving it. And why not? So that’s how far I would go back, I’d probably go back three years, maybe a touch longer, but to just makes sure that what you send is useful, relevant and informative, and in my experience, you’ll get no pushback.

Dan Campbell 55:44
Brilliant. So, next question. This is from David. And it stands to chance that there are other people that may have joined Carl Richards’ fellowship on this webinar, too. For those that have forgotten, how do they access their Carl Richards illustrations to use them at the moment?

Phil Bray 55:59
And there were five – assuming they joined the fellowship via the Yardstick special offer – there were five illustrations that planners could download, and got as a free bundle. And I don’t know how they would access that? But what I would say is, if whoever’s asked that question, emails me, phil@theyardstickagency.co.uk, I will reach out to Carl and find out. And, I will then drop you an email back. And that will sort that, and we’ll sort it relatively quickly.

Dan Campbell 56:31
Fantastic. So a question from Rebecca from a while ago, “How often should we be communicating to clients? So currently, we send out a business continuity letter (an email) on a Friday, and we’ve given two market updates prior to that, since early March?”

Phil Bray 56:51
Okay, so I would be communicating when you have something to say. And there’s a couple of ways of doing that. You could do a regular communication, a kind of weekly round up? So, on Friday, this is, let’s say you’re doing monthly newsletters. You might decide to do them weekly, from now on – for a bit – so that you can just keep communicating, and they get used to getting it on a certain time and a certain day. So, Friday morning at 10 o’clock, your newsletter is going out now. And that’s got a roundup of the week’s events. That works really well, and also would potentially reduce the work involved. So I think that works well. The other way of doing it, of course, is you communicate in a more timely manner. And when things change, you then send a reactive communication out. So an example of that might have been on Friday, last week, when the chancellor announced the help for businesses, allowing them to furlough employees, and them getting paid 80% of their salary. Now I know a lot of planners, who have business owner clients, did an update at that point. I guess quite a few will get asked to do quite a few communications today around the self-employed stuff, and the help being given to self-employed and freelancers. So for me, you’ve got a couple of ways of doing it. One is you do the communications at the same time every week. And it’s one communication wrapping up what’s happened, or you do them as and when, and you react? I’m not sure there’s a… I’m not sure there’s a right way of doing it, and wrong way of doing it? I think they’re both equally valid. What I would say is, follow the data. Look at open rates, we’re seeing open rates on these communications at least as good as normal newsletters, if not more, if not higher. So be led by the data there. And also maybe a quick client survey. Two or three questions on Survey Monkey, “Are we getting to communications right? Do you want to see more? Do you want to see less? What else would you like to see?” Ping it out, leave open for a couple of days, get people to fill it in, and just be guided by the responses. I think I’d be really inclined to do that. So that you know that you’re giving clients broadly what they’re looking for. Hopefully that helps.

Dan Campbell 59:13
Brilliant. Thanks. There are no other questions come through. We’ve got lots of people giving us some lovely comments. Really appreciative of what we’ve done. Thank you for all of these comments, guys. That’s really nice of everybody to say. No actual questions. I’m just filtering through.

Phil Bray 59:30
So what we’ll do is, Dan, if you can download those comments, we’ll share those with the Yardstick team, because I know they are appreciated. We will keep doing what we’re doing. And, we will keep trying to help the planning community. If there’s something that we’re not doing that you want us to do, we’re all ears, please drop us a line and we’ll do everything we can to help. Hopefully today has been useful for you, and hopefully gives you things you can go away and implement in your business, this afternoon, this evening and tomorrow. Stay healthy, stay happy and we’ll be in touch this evening. Thanks everybody.

Dan Campbell 1:00:05
Thanks guys.

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