Trick or Treat! You probably uttered those words hundreds (or thousands) of times yourself as a kid. Most likely you’ve answered your own door as an adult and had the sugar-fueled plea hurled (usually innocently) your way a similar number of times.
But, whether you’ve engaged in Halloween or not, you know the basic drill – it’s a relatively uncomplicated dance between those going door-to-door and those who leave their front porch light on to welcome them. The kids dress up, speak the magic phrase and you bestow a treat in their plastic jack-o’-lantern (or their Lawn & Leaf bag, if they are feeling really ambitious). But, while the dance is uncomplicated, the treat you choose to reward their expectations with goes a long way toward determining whether your house is one of the must-stops on subsequent years or one that is largely avoided (I’m looking at you, Bit-O-Honey people!).
What does this have to do with financial services technology? Good question. I want to talk a little bit about holidays and the role technology can play in helping you to meet and/or exceed your clients’ expectations on those holidays where it is common to send greetings or gifts. Making sure that you’re meeting client expectations should, of course, be a year-round goal of the successful advisory practice. But, here, I want to narrow our focus to some of the ways you can go about doing so during the holidays in particular. Beginning to plan your holiday campaigns on or around Halloween should allow your office time to prioritize this process rather than treating it as an afterthought.
Building out a content calendar is an important part of any holiday campaigns you have planned. This could mean using anything from a whiteboard or an Excel spreadsheet to using the shared calendar within your CRM or a shared Notebook in Evernote (to name but a very few of your many, many options). I’d definitely recommend, though, using one of the tech options as opposed to simply whiteboarding it, if for no other reason than that you can go back and look each season at what you’ve done in the previous years. This will help with your content planning, as well as sometimes providing you with evergreen content that you can repurpose.
A bonus to using your CRM Calendar as your content calendar is that, for more complicated campaigns that may involve a lot of moving pieces, you can tie Workflows into the process, rather than relying strictly on tasks and/or activities.
Regardless of the calendar method you choose, if you don’t map out the important dates and team members responsible for taking care of your holiday cards, letters, emails, etc., your clients may receive your Christmas card as they’re getting ready to go out for New Year’s Eve. That’s not going to help them ring in the New Year with positive thoughts of your business.
While you can find lots of resources out there about creating content calendars, MailChimp has good information here, as does Advisor Websites here. Neither of these is specifically about creating a holiday content calendar, but the material each offers is applicable to holiday content as well. Bonus: beginning to use a content calendar during the holiday season may inspire you to begin using one year round, which can lead to greater opportunities for meaningful contact and trust building with your clients and prospects.
If you enter information into your CRM, whether in the form of notes or in the form of contact data fields, odds are there is a quick method for searching for and reporting on the data. Further, the more data you enter, the more precisely you can begin to segment your clients and prospects based upon any number of demographic and/or personal data points. What’s the point of spelling all this out here? Taking careful notes and entering as much data as you can about each of your clients and prospects is essential groundwork for later being able to know what holidays and/or events represent appropriate times for points-of-contact. When you can easily and accurately retrieve a list of your clients that observe Christmas, Hanukkah, Ramadan, Diwali, Chinese New Year, Kwanzaa, etc., you’re much more likely to be comfortable following through and actually sharing holiday-specific greeting cards or messages and, consequently, further solidifying those client relationships.
Try to think outside of the box in terms of client gifting. As with segmentation for purposes of determining appropriate holiday messages for delivery, your CRM can also be invaluable as a trove of information for inspiring creative gift ideas. Since you are regulated in terms of the dollar amount you can spend on client gifting, not to mention the fact that it can often be difficult to generate gift ideas for HNWIs, the more information you track about your clients, the more clues you have as to what might be appropriate and thoughtful gifts for them. What is their favorite beverage, or sports team, or musician, or color, or local business/dining establishment? You want your gifts to be personal and you want them to make an impression because of their thoughtfulness. Your CRM, used to its fullest, allows you to be thoughtful on an individual level when it comes to gift giving.
There are tons of tech marketing options out there to assist you with physical mail, email and/or social campaigns. If you are a Redtail CRM subscriber, you can see the list of those that we currently offer integration with here. In addition to making your holiday outreach simpler, most of these marketing tools offer sophisticated reporting that allows you to refine your efforts over time as you see what does and does not work.
Leave the Light On
Planning and implementing a holiday campaign, where you segment your clients and prospects, sending different messages to different groups perhaps in different formats as well, while also sending gifts to some clients, some of which may be highly personalized, is a much more complicated dance than the simple transactional Halloween interaction referenced at the beginning of this piece. But, stepping up your holiday greeting and gifting skills can pay big dividends in terms of relationship building.
The temptation is often to “go dark” during the holiday season as you know your clients are especially busy at this time of year, as are you. Don’t do it though – don’t let the occasion pass to show your clients that you appreciate them as individuals. Let them know your front porch light is on, that they are encouraged to stop by and that you have prepared well for their visit.