Marcoms Roundtable: Advisor Strategy In A Recession

Marcoms Leaders From Intention.ly, Impact And Graham Explain How Advisors Should Adapt Their Marketing And Communications Strategy In A Recession

Though analysts, market commentators and Fed watchers spill tons of virtual ink every year expounding their views on the possibility of a recession, no one can predict a recession with certainty. However, it is certain that recessions will eventually come, and when they do, advisors’ clients will face both pressures at work and business and challenges in their portfolios. Advisors need to be prepared to adjust their marketing and communications strategies when recessions occur.

To learn the best strategic changes for advisors to implement in a recession, we caught up with  Kelly Waltrich, Co-Founder and CEO, Intention.ly; Lisa Graham, Co-Founder and CEO at Graham Media Partners; and Jonny Swift, Vice President and Director Of Social/Digital Strategy at Impact Communications.

We asked each of them: How should financial advisors adjust their marcoms strategy if we move into a recession?

Their responses follow.

Jonny Swift, Vice President, Director Of Social/Digital Strategy, Impact Communications

Economic downturns are no fun – especially for advisors who have to calm client anxiety while managing the financial pressures impacting their own company. During a recession, advisors should focus their marcoms strategies on addressing the needs and concerns of their clients, who may feel anxious about their finances. Advisors should communicate proactively, demonstrating understanding of their concerns and offering reassurance through personalized communications.

Advisors must also provide clear and honest information about the potential impact of the recession on clients’ investments and financial goals. This builds trust and helps manage expectations. Providing educational content via in-person meetings, webinars, seminars, videos, podcast episodes, articles, newsletters, etc. – not only during the recession, but before any decline begins – can help. When a rough economic patch hits, digital channels become invaluable for staying connected.

Advisors should highlight their professional training and experience in navigating volatile markets and offer tailored solutions to help clients weather the storm. Industry thought leader Carl Richards, in a video interview with my colleague Marie Swift, emphasized that advisors who position themselves as guides that can help clients navigate uncertain conditions – versus oracles who can predict the weather – can provide the calm and confidence that clients need to keep a clear head. Marcoms strategies should accommodate rapidly changing market conditions and client needs.

Finally, maintaining a strong online presence is critical, through thick and thin. This is one evergreen activity that advisors should never shortchange. Just as building a good reputation takes time, so does demonstrating that expertise online.

Lisa Graham, Co-Founder And CEO, Graham Media Partners

In a word: Over-communicate. It is nearly impossible for your clients to hear from you too much when they’re worried about their portfolios.

To be clear, this is something advisors in any economy could improve on. In 2024, a YCharts survey found that almost 80% of advised clients said they wanted to be contacted at least quarterly. It would be pretty hard to drive a client away by overcommunicating. By and large, advisors connect with their clients less frequently than they should.

So, if and when things get rocky – whether it’s a full-blown recession, a volatile market or even an election year – your clients want to know that you, their advisor, are on top of it. This is when you want to check in, offer your perspective, and help your clients confidently stay the course.

Focus on personalized communication, whether it’s a phone call, meeting or email. It sounds simple, but just reminding them that you’re available can help.

Provide context. Financial experts understand market cycles and communicating the historical context of a dip can provide a broader perspective for your clients.

Offer a confidently reassuring message. They want to hear that you understand what’s going on and what to do to get through it. Calming words from a financial professional can ease the client’s nerves and give them confidence.

Although it may sound counterintuitive, over-communicating can open the door to a better client relationship, even in the worst of economies.

Kelly Waltrich, Co-Founder And CEO, Intention.ly

For many firms, the knee-jerk reaction when faced with the possibility of a recession is to cut or eliminate marketing spend.

This makes absolutely no sense.

Countless case studies have proven that organizations that maintain or increase marketing spend outgrow competitors that have decreased their own marketing budgets.

We see it all the time at Intention.ly, and it’s easy to understand why.

Imagine three firms are targeting the same audience. In the face of a market downturn, firm one eliminates their marketing program.

Firm two maintains their existing marketing budget.

Firm three cuts spending in other areas to shuttle more resources to marketing.

What happens next?

The audience, used to equal visibility from all three firms, now loses sight of firm one entirely. Firm two maintains their existing presence in the market. But suddenly, firm three seems to be everywhere.

Their share of voice goes up. Their ability to acquire leads becomes easier and less expensive. From an optics perspective, they look like the most stable.

To this audience, they might as well be the only option – particularly important in our industry during a recession, when people are looking for voices they trust. The opportunity a market downturn presents to outpace shorter-sighted competitors can’t be overstated.

Should we be faced with a recession, I would urge advisors to look elsewhere to cut budgets. Office expenses, T&E, departments that need rightsizing, executive compensation – you can afford to spend less in these areas. You can’t afford to turn off your growth engine.

James Miller, Contributing Editor and Research Analyst at Wealth Solutions Report, can be reached at ContributingEd@wealthsolutionsreport.com.

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