How to Speak Stress: Messaging Tips for Marketing Info In Confusing Times

Some advisors may find that, where possible, using video newsletters, instead of or along with, regular newsletters can be easier for clients to focus on.

In a normal year, about 18% of Americans experience high levels of anxiety. In the Spring of 2020, 37% number of people reported high levels of anxiety and stress about the COVID-19 outbreak. Right now, clients need to hear from their financial advisors about changes to the market as well as changes to the hours or workflow of financial advisors as you need to protect your employees and families. With so many folks feeling high levels of stress, how can financial advisors tailor their messages to be received most easily absorbed by stressed readers? We might note that the anxiety your clients face is likely to remain after any SEC/DOL required communications about portfolios has been provided. It may linger into your standard monthly newsletters, website and other marketing communications. Here are some

The Centers for Disease Control has helpful information about the impact of the Corona Virus on anxiety. It stated: “Stress during an infectious disease outbreak can include: Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved one; Changes in sleep or eating patterns; Difficulty sleeping or concentrating; Worsening of chronic health problems; Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs.”

First, let’s start with what not to say. It’s common to tell someone with anxiety to calm down, or to minimize their experience of the event. Here, that may feel like gas lighting as elements of the pandemic in America were fraught with inconsistent and sometimes conflicting information from public officials. Avoiding the phrase relax entirely is usually helpful for people who are at a high level of stress. Some yoga teachers that work with the chronically stressed find that replacing relax with a word like release can do wonders. For example, instead of telling a student to relax their shoulders, they say to release tension from the shoulders. Instead of saying relax your hands, they might say release your grip.

Second, consider that your clients will have significantly reduced concentration. This may call for using shorter words in shorter sentences. Some advisors may find that, where possible, using video newsletters, instead of or along with, regular newsletters can be easier for clients to focus on. In addition to shorter, clients with reduced concentration abilities may benefit from bigger font. Even moving from a 12 point font to a 14 point font, which may seem like a small deal, can help clients with stress continue to read. This can be because stress causes muscle tension in the neck, shoulders and jaw, which can result in headaches, making reading more difficult.

Reducing distractions also goes along with helping your client concentrate. Reducing distractions in marketing materials includes how much white space is on a page. That can be increased with more line breaks between paragraphs or increasing the letter spacing in your font. How to? It’s a setting under the advanced section of the font setting in your word processing program. Reducing distractions also involves any sidebars or extra graphics.

People who are stressed and/or anxious also have trouble organizing their thoughts. Improving the organization of your thoughts can help those clients follow along. You may find that explaining the structure of a communication can help those clients. For example, explaining how you’ll walk through reviewing a new policy in your office for signing documents prior to then explaining it can help those clients follow along. Be prepared to repeat yourself regularly in marketing materials as well. Increase the use of headers and links back to portions of your newsletter as well to improve navigation for easily distracted readers.

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