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Good marketing stays on the client communication curve

Website design and client communication strategies need to strike a balance between technology clients are using now and where they will be in the near future, says ClientsFirst’s Jon Pittham

Drop in to any discussion about the future of
web design or email marketing and you’ll hear one watchword: mobile. ‘Mobile
and responsive design are the future’, everyone will be saying, ‘everyone will soon use their mobile for everything, we need to be ready!’

Actually, I would argue that this is incorrect. Mobile is no longer the future, it is the now.

We’re a very short distance away from technologies classed as mobile overtaking desktop as being the primary medium through which we interact with the internet. That distance
is so short that there’s no longer a point in planning for
a time when mobile isn’t here. Responsive design for websites isn’t something that needs to be considered tomorrow as an optional extra: it’s a must have for today. Clients who say that they don’t use mobile now, may well say that they do tomorrow.

The switch to mobile is indicative of the way wider trends in communication occur, but it is also a rare opportunity to be able to see this kind of move with such clarity that
it makes the choices behind communication strategies clear and the future so predictable.

Leveraging changes

Leveraging those changes
from a marketing perspective
is key to keeping up with
your client demands. As new communication options emerge, the trick is not always to stay ahead of the curve, to jump in to the future with both feet and assign all of your time there, but to keep up with where the client is. The term responsive web design was first coined in 2010, but how many of us and our clients would have known what we were looking at if we had seen a responsive site back then? Now we can clearly see a very different story emerging in 2013 and over the next couple of years.

By comparison, I would argue that few advisers who use Twitter as part of their marketing successfully gain large numbers of clients from it. There’s no question that those advisers who are on Twitter get some benefits from it; interacting with peers, keeping up with industry
news and SEO benefits, but clients simply aren’t jumping on to Twitter and choosing a financial planner from a virtual high street. The advisers
who are there looking for business are ahead of the client communication curve.

Being ready for this change in client behaviour however, if it does come, costs little in terms of time or investment, and for these reasons I, and many others, would argue that there is a benefit to having Twitter as part of your client communication mix. The outcomes though show clearly that it’s not where the typical client is shopping or communicating right now.

Where clients are now

Where you can find the
client willing and ready to communicate with your marketing is in the places where they feel comfortable and familiar; email, clear and concise editorial content, such as white papers and guides and an increasing amount of willingness to interact with video. One of our big watchwords at ClientsFirst is writing content in the client’s language, not the advisers.

The same theory applies to the technology used to pass on the words. You can shout as loudly as you want to, but if you’re so far ahead technology-wise that there’s no one there to listen to you, then what result do you expect to achieve? Keep an eye on the future and make sure you’re ready when it arrives, but focus on the now. The balance between trying new things and communicating with clients on familiar territory is a difficult one to achieve, and rarely will the signposts for what is coming be as clearly laid out as with something like responsive website design.

But establishing that balance, creating a marketing mix that is distributed via a range of channels and media, is a vital process that will pay dividends in the long term.

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