As an industry, financial planning tends to get stuck in the 1990s when it comes to marketing tactics. Many firms still play by the old rules that are becoming more and more outdated -- and that are failing to attract new clients. Other practices don't bother with marketing themselves to the wider world at all, and instead focus solely on client referrals to gain more business.
But the old rules are unlikely to resonate with the new generations of clients who are looking to hire a financial planner. The old way of marketing means that you buy your audience's attention. You purchase advertising or buy email lists. Then you create campaigns and try tactics to drive that audience to do something.
But when you want to market to Gen X and Gen Y -- two groups who are more skeptical of financial advisors than the original financial planning clients, Baby Boomers -- trying to buy their attention just isn't effective.
Financial advisors need to leap into modern business and understand the importance of content marketing.
What Is Content Marketing?
Content marketing is a form of inbound marketing. This differs from that "old way" of marketing your business because instead of buying your audience's attention, inbound marketing encourages you to earn their attention. You can do this via content, which includes:
- Information publishing (ebooks, whitepapers, downloadable guides)
- Presentations and webinars
- Social Media
With content marketing, the goal is to create a platform your ideal clients want to be. They are naturally attracted to your business because of the content you provide.
This means that much of content marketing can be done with a $0 budget. It simply takes expertise and and investment of time.
Benefits of Content Marketing for Financial Advisors
Content marketing allows you to draw in your ideal clients without buying their attention. This is a huge benefit if you're starting your own RIA and building your business from scratch. You have limited resources, and being able to marketing yourself without spending money is huge.
And by marketing this way, you can naturally develop a strong platform for yourself and your brand where it matters most if you want to work with next-generation clients: online. The first thing a prospect will do is Google your name or your firm's name. Having a well-designed website, an informative blog full of information they need, and something like a free ebook or whitepaper to download will position you as an expert in the eyes of the prospects that are searching for you online.
In addition to building expertise, content marketing is one of the best ways to develop trust and sincere relationships with the people you want as clients. In a generation that actively distrusts traditional advisors and doesn't understand the differences between fee-only financial planners and commission-based broker-dealers, educational content that serves the reader's needs makes a big impact on 20, 30, and 40-somethings who want help with their finances but aren't sure where to go.
How to Develop Your Own Content Marketing Strategy
Convinced your RIA needs to do content marketing? If you're starting from scratch, develop a plan first. Here are a few simple steps to putting together your own content marketing strategy as a financial advisor:
1. Identify Your Objectives and Goals: You can't execute your plan without understanding why you're taking action or what you hope to accomplish.
2. Choose Your Channels: Decide where you'll focus your content marketing efforts. You can't be everywhere all the time, and it's unwise to spread yourself too thin over all the possible places you could market. If you're not sure where to start, focus on your own website and blog, and then incorporate social media to help promote your content to wider audiences.
3. Choose Your Content: Just like you can't be everywhere, all the time, you also can't excel at producing the myriad of content that's available to make. And you don't need to. If you're active and heavily involved with social media, you don't necessarily need to divert your time and attention away to start a podcast (especially if you know absolutely nothing about podcasts or how to start). Decide what you and your firm can excel at -- and stick to it.
4. Stay Consistent: Once you set up a framework for your strategy by determining objectives and goals, where you'll market, and what you'll create with your content, it's time to implement. Choose a schedule for releasing your content and stay consistent. If you want to tweet 5 times a day, do it 5 times per day, every day. If you want to blog once per week or release a new podcast episode weekly, do it and stick with it!
5. Create a Promotional Process: You should spend about 20% of your time creating content. The other 80% of the time? You should be promoting it. Here are a few channels you can utilize to promote the content you create:
- Social media
- Email lists
- Syndication, republishing, or guest posting (if you're focused on blogging)
6. Track Your Progress and Measure Results: After you get started, it's important to track and measure the progress you make and the results you see. What's working, what's not, and what could you change to enjoy greater success?
Quick Tips to Get You Started
As you get ready to implement your strategy, keep these suggestions and tips in mind to maximize your success.
Start with a Good Website: Your website should be the foundation of your content marketing strategy. You need to have a central place to pull prospects back to -- and a place where they'll land if they find you via Google. Your website should be responsive, clean, easy to navigate, and designed with clear calls to action.
Yes, You Need a Blog: Whether you're a natural-born writer or not, a blog serves a variety of functions which all benefit your overall marketing efforts and the success of your business. If you're not sure what to write about, start by writing posts that answer common client and prospect questions. If you're not a good writer, outsource this work. There are a number of freelancers who are capable of writing content around basic personal finance topics.
Give, Give, and Give Value: Don't fear giving too much away for free. Financial planning is a complicated job, which is why we have an industry of professionals dedicated to the work. Share your expertise and put your knowledge on display. Make your content extremely valuable for the people who follow you, read your work, or subscribe to your email list. Giving away value helps grow highly loyal followings and develop strong prospective client lists.