The technical definition of content marketing is “to create and distribute relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience.” For a broker dealer or custodian, the target audience may be financial advisors. For financial advisors, the target audience may be high net worth investors. In either case, content marketing is a way to attract people to your firm by providing them with thought provoking information that positions you as an expert.
While it may sound like some new innovative approach to marketing, content marketing is really just a fancy term for an old practice.
Think about it. Remember when asset management and other financial services providers mailed quarterly newsletters and magazines to shareholders? Or when financial advisors mailed clients a monthly or quarterly letter? (some still do). What was in those magazines, newsletters, and letters? Content.
What’s really new today are the delivery mechanisms for content. Rather than mailing a quarterly publication, companies can post bite-size pieces of content more frequently on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook, or publish more in-depth pieces on their own blogs. With so many ways in which to distribute content, however, many firms struggle to “feed the content marketing beast.”
In my experience, there is really only one way to meet the challenge of generating a steady stream of high quality content. It’s a tool that has been around since the dawn of the print age: an editorial (or content marketing) calendar. At its most basic, an editorial calendar can be a simple spreadsheet where you record your future content ideas and the dates on which you plan to publish. It may also answer the following questions:
- Who are your target audiences?
- Where will the content be published (blog, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.)?
- Who is responsible for writing the content?
- Who is responsible for reviewing and approving the content?
- Are there important holidays, events or other dates to plan around?
To build a robust content marketing calendar, however, you will have to do something that’s a challenge for many in today’s multi-tasking work environment: Develop a plan. This involves looking several months out into the future and then working backwards to fill your calendar with interesting content ideas.
Those ideas won’t magically appear on their own. You will need to get in the habit of conducting regularly scheduled brainstorming sessions. Gather your team in a room, turn off your portable electronic devices, and think. What kinds of questions are you getting from clients? What are some of the problems you solve for them? How can you make them smarter? Are there certain seasonal topics that could be timely? For example, the end of summer might be a good time to discuss the best ways to save for future college expenses.
Once you have a list of ideas and have fleshed them out, plug them into your calendar and set deadlines. Next, identify who will be responsible for writing your content. Don’t forget to allow sufficient time for editing and compliance reviews.
Once you have developed a high quality piece of content, it’s easy to slice and dice it up into bite-sized social media content. You can take an interesting fact or statistic from a blog, article, or white paper and post it on Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook. This practice, commonly referred to as a “hub and spoke” strategy, helps drive more traffic to your blog post and your website.
To develop an effective content marketing strategy over the long-term, you cannot rest on your laurels. When you’re in the content marketing business, you’re in the publishing business. Continue to set aside time for brainstorming, build your editorial calendar, enforce deadlines, and feed the content marketing beast. Doing so will establish you as a credible expert within your field for existing clients and prospects.
Neil Rhein is Chief of Content Development for Bull’s-eye Financial Communications, where he specializes in creating customized, authentic communications for financial services clients, including financial advisors and wealth managers, asset managers and broker dealers, custom publishers, and in-house financial marketing agencies.