For many years now, the traditional marketing strategies of the financial planning industry like Lunch & Learn Seminars, Direct Mail and (*shudder*) “Dialing for Dollars” have become far less effective in converting prospects into clients. And justifiably so. For starters, members of Gen X and Gen Y are fairly sales averse -- quickly sniffing out a sales pitch from the initial introduction -- that’s assuming you even get to that point.
Above that, do you really think a Gen X-er is sitting around waiting for a phone call or mailer from the nice guy or gal at the local advisory firm to get their money-related questions answered? Absolutely not when the most basic financial information can be uncovered by a simple internet search.
Enter Content Marketing.
One of the best things about the digital revolution we are currently living through is the process of marketing to potential clients has essentially been turned on its head. Where in the past, outbound marketing was the key to driving business; now inbound is king -- with your online presence providing a better ROI than phone calls and marketing flyers, combined.
Now don’t get me wrong, as a financial advisor, your ability to effectively market yourself is still the key component to the success of your firm. However, these days content marketing is the number one way to separate yourself from the competition and attract only the clients you want, while repelling those you don’t.
But that’s only if you’re doing it right!
Here are a few tips to help you create content that draws in your ideal clients and makes them fall in love with what’s uniquely you.
Write in Plain English
I get it. You want to show clients that you know your stuff, because, hey...that fancy CFP certificate on your wall didn’t earn itself! But consider this: if your potential clients are confused by industry jargon and complicated concepts simply by reading the blog posts on your website, the chances of them reaching out to initiate a conversation are slim-to-none.
I can hear the rebuttals now, “I can’t ‘dumb down’ my content because wouldn’t that undermine my credibility as a professional?”
Simple answer: NO!
People do business with those they know, like, and trust -- not those that can pack the most three-syllable words into a compound sentence.
You know your audience and understand their financial needs better than most people. So when it comes to communicating to them how you can best provide solutions for their pain points, be sure your content is:
- Clear and direct
- Concise with simple words in short sentences
- Devoid of industry jargon
- Written in the language and style of your reader
“No one will ever complain that you’ve made things too simple to understand.”
Stay True to You
Just because you’re a financial advisor doesn’t mean you’re obligated to write about Seeking Alpha or Mitigating Risk or even Asset Allocation, if it doesn’t feel natural to you. Develop content that you are passionate about, not content that you think should be produced just because it’s the expectation of the industry.
Gone are the days of the generalist financial advisor. Well, let me rephrase that, there are still plenty of generalist financial advisors around, they are just losing ground to the droves of advisors that would rather understand and serve a small subset of the market -- than the market as a whole.
The same fate is playing out with general content. Stale, run-of-the-mill content is no longer (assuming it ever was) capturing the attention of clients. On top of that, it’s just not fun to write.
Forcing yourself to write about boring topics doesn’t benefit you or your clients. Your best content is found at the intersection of your passion and your readers interests/pain points.
Spend some time reflecting on what that space looks like for you and before you know it, you’ll have dozens of post ideas to choose from.
Tell a Story
Stories have a profound effect on our understanding and behavior -- and it’s been this way since childhood. For many of us growing up, the last thing we heard before going to sleep was a bedtime story. Fast forward to now, and as adults, we still express the same exuberance for a well-told story.
The same is true with many of your potential clients, as well.
Stories that are highly engaging have been shown to trigger the release of oxytocin in the brain -- otherwise referred to as the “trust hormone”. Done right, stories that combine logic and emotion, within a clearly defined beginning, middle, and end, stand a strong chance of eliciting long-term trust from a prospect.
Solve a Problem
Every piece of content that you create should focus primarily on solving a particular problem for your target audience. This means avoiding “me first” content that serves to inform potential clients about your knowledge or service offerings, rather than answering the questions that they are looking for by visiting your site.
There’s a natural reservation in the online marketing world to avoid “giving away too much for free” for fear that no one would pay for services that they could get for free by searching online. While that’s not a completely baseless argument, remember that your business exists to provide solutions to your clients financial problems, and only a fraction of the value you provide comes by way of written content on your firm’s website.
A Few Final Tips…
We’ve talked a lot about the creation of content, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t end by bringing attention to the ‘marketing’ part of the equation. You could have the best content the world has ever seen, but if you aren’t pointing people toward it, you may as well had written it in the journal atop your nightstand.
Content creation is an important part of an inbound marketing strategy, but it’s just the first step. Once you’ve created content that will serve your audience, getting it in front of them is the next (arguably more important) order of business.
This can be accomplished in a few different ways.
Identify where your client ‘lives’ online. For example, if your niche market is homeschooling families in the midwest, perhaps there’s an online forum that is full of prospective clients for you to share your expertise with. Join that group and begin adding value through those interactions -- no need to lead with the hard sell. Over time your value will shine through and you can drive traffic back toward your website.
Utlilize Social Media. Be sure that you are regularly posting your content to social media channels like Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin. Maintaining an active presence on social media is one of the most effective ways to engage your audience and find or start conversations around the topics that are relevant to your prospects and customers.
Optimize your site for SEO. Search Engine Optimization is one of the best ways to get your content in front of as many eyes as possible by ranking near the top of search results. With the ever changing Google algorithm, this is one of the more difficult aspects of a digital marketing strategy to accomplish, but one that you will want to invest some time (or outsourcing dollars) into staying on top of.
About the Author: Kelby Green is the owner of Common Cents Content & Marketing, a digital marketing agency that helps financial planners develop and grow their brand. To learn more about Common Cents or connect with Kelby, click here.