by Kristin C. Harad, CFP®
Content marketing is here to stay, and as one of the most powerful marketing strategies in today’s online, fast-paced, information-driven world, it’s a strategy you won’t want to overlook.
Content marketing is the art and science of regularly sharing valuable information with your target audience that aligns with and reinforces your brand. It is communicating without selling, a give-and-you-shall receive approach to generate interest, attract prospects, and build trust. It is a faith that sharing your knowledge and opinions will result in revenue-generating action from your audience and the eventual reward of loyal clients.
When you share content, you want to provide one or more of the following:
Education: Teach a complex concept in an easy-to-digest manner. Financial planning provides endless content, ranging from more technical and practical issues to lifestyle and emotional topics.
Editorial: Present your perspective. With myriad philosophies and differing values around finances, sharing your opinion helps you stand out to people with whom your message will resonate. Make sure they know where you stand.
Entertainment: A smile, a chuckle, the nodding head of “I know what you mean.” Sometimes content serves simply to provide enjoyment. When people find your style entertaining, they keep coming back for more.
From blog posts, tweets, and seminars to radio shows, interviews, and videos, content comes in many forms. If you educate, editorialize, or entertain under your brand, you already are a content marketer.
Yes, Content Marketing Actually Performs
Sharing free content, especially content that educates, can feel like you’re revealing your secrets. If you give away the how to’s on retirement planning or the secrets to maximizing Social Security, do you render yourself obsolete? Of course not.
Content marketing reinforces your expertise and accelerates trust-building with potential clients. The more often you share, the more frequently a prospect “sees” you. Soon you’ll show up everywhere they are. And your clients will see you, too. They’ll feel a sense of pride as you remind them of your value and provide an easy way to refer their like-minded friends.
But you can’t just post any old information. Content marketing requires quality sharing. Contribute without holding back; provide content that is so valuable a reader tells coworkers, approaches you after a seminar, and opens your emails. Your content should be so valuable someone would be willing to pay for it.
What Makes Content Valuable?
Converse with your target audience. Avoid overarching generalizations about financial planning when you speak or write. Know who you want to reach and tailor your content directly to that niche. Educate on topics specific to their financial or life stage.
Take a stance. Don’t just state facts and differentiate the Roth IRA from a traditional IRA. Your reader or listener can find that information anywhere. Rather, share a new perspective or new use. When you disagree with the norm, speak up! You’ll stand out and attract the media. Journalists want to talk with the exception, not the rule.
Be creative. Know your brand personality and be consistent, but don’t be afraid to go out on a limb. When you create content frequently, take a chance once in a while. Let go of that conservative mindset, “I must get this perfect before I launch.”
Elevate the conversation. What is your driving mission? What do you care about? Raise macro issues. Transcend the basics. Differentiate and connect on a higher level.
Bring it back down. Deliver specific how to’s. Mix big-picture concepts with tactical, practical pieces. People appreciate theory, but they thank you for the what-to-do-next advice. Do this as a guest contributor and you become an essential guide in helping another’s audience with next-action advice.
Make it personal. Share your story. Counterintuitive as it may seem, when you are vulnerable, you actually reinforce your expert status. You are human, you’ve been there, and you’ve triumphed. Opening up about how you overcame adversity makes content undeniably valuable.
Diversify Your Approach
A diversified regimen can help overcome content marketing overwhelm. Yes, you want your content to have your voice, but even the best content marketers need a break. Mix up your routine with these tactics:
Hire out. Provide a copywriter with topic ideas, examples of your style, and let him or her go. Then review and edit the article to make it yours. Or reverse that process. Hire an editor and provide your writing, letting the editor take it from facts to content, adding in a voice, or let a video editor turn a PowerPoint presentation into a compelling video clip.
Partner up. For an instant article or video, interview people of interest to your audience. Invite guests to provide content for your newsletter, webinars, or blog. Identify a strategic partner with whom you can team up for educational seminars and other training opportunities.
Use your voice. Many advisers work best when they are explaining concepts or sharing opinions in conversation.
- Record yourself and transcribe the file.
- Host podcasts or record audio files that you distribute on your website.
- Hold and record a teleseminar or webinar. Provide the links through email and take another opportunity to transcribe your masterpiece.
Share Your Content
Reserving content solely for your blog or website is like running in circles. You need to be where your audience is. Spread your message through multiple channels.
Join groups. Online communities allow for open discussion, so consider participating in the Yahoo! Group for your child’s school, or one of the many communities on LinkedIn. Join conversations that are important to your target right now, especially the non-financial ones. In every signature, include a link to a relevant “freemium.”
Find popular blogs. Ask your current clients which blogs they read or do a Google search. Search across lifestyle, professional, and various organizations’ blogs. Offer to guest post. Bloggers are marketers of content, too; they need posts and want others’ perspectives.
Send samples. Send your content to hyper-targeted publications such as organizations’ newsletters, neighborhood newspapers, or local niche magazines. Join the trade groups for your target market and propose a webinar or seminar.
Your proactive efforts to share your knowledge, opinions, and values do pay off. Eventually, the phone rings and the emails arrive. You feel fulfilled when you ask your next prospect, “So, how did you hear about me?”
Marketing today is sharing content. Yes, the time commitment can be grueling if you let it, but you can make content marketing enjoyable. Find the type of content you prefer and focus there first. Simply put: speak and write about your passions.
Kristin C. Harad, CFP®, is a marketing coach, helping financial advisers develop their content marketing strategies. She offers hours of free marketing training at www.kristinharad.com.