As an independent financial advisor, it can be hard to get noticed. That shouldn’t come as a surprise, given that there are almost 13,000 registered investment advisor firms in the U.S.1 Even worse, how can you compete with the large brand name firms out there who have multi-million dollar marketing budgets?
Fortunately, there is a strategy out there that is not only accessible….it also levels the playing field between all firms, big and small.
That strategy is content marketing.
What is content marketing for financial advisors?
Content marketing is the practice of creating and distributing content to a targeted audience online. Content marketing can take many forms, but the most potent one is something you are likely very familiar with: the written word. So that means writing…primarily articles, but also special reports, ebooks, or guides. Content marketing can also take the form of videos and other more complex forms of media too.
The common thread here is that anyone can create this type of original content. Unlike many more expensive forms of marketing, there are no barriers to entry.
Once you publish your content on the internet, search engines automatically go to work for you, ranking your site based on the keywords you include in your writing.
|Check out this article How to Climb the Ranks and Get More Clients to learn how to find the right keywords for your website!|
Here’s the important part: these search engines don’t care if you’re a one-person firm or an NYSE-listed company. These search engines are “staffed” by automated “bots” programmed to help consumers find what they are looking for online. They are only concerned with the actual content, not with the brand or money behind it.
Inbound vs. outbound marketing
Content marketing represents a significant change for financial services marketing. Traditionally, the financial industry has focused on an outbound marketing approach. That meant most firms reached out by phone, mail, advertising or events in a mostly blanketed approach to “sell” the firm’s services. As we all know, this approach is primarily a numbers game and a costly one at that.
That’s where large players usually had a significant advantage since they could afford teams of cold callers or mass mailings along with other advertising and brand building.
Content marketing for financial advisors, however, falls under a different category: inbound marketing.
The magnet versus the needle
With outbound marketing, you use a blanket approach to search for the occasional person who could use your services. This strategy is like trying to find a needle in the haystack.
But with inbound marketing, you use a magnet to attract those looking for your services. In other words, you publish content to help people looking for those services find you.
Here’s an example: suppose you specialize in wealth management for high-income physicians. In that case, you can tailor your content marketing to the unique needs of that demographic. Most specialty physicians have high incomes and are usually concerned about high taxes. So you might write articles about strategies these individuals can use to save taxes and invest more tax efficiently. That way, a busy physician looking for a tax-savvy wealth manager who understands her needs might find your article of interest and end up visiting your website.
A more comfortable approach
Not only is content marketing a more affordable approach, but it’s also an excellent fit for the entire independent financial advice industry. Why? As an advisor, you’re probably more comfortable sharing knowledge than selling.
With content marketing, you’re educating. In fact, any whiff of a sales pitch will often send potential clients running, so you need to avoid it actively.
Through education, you’re seeking to build a connection. You want that potential client to think, “this person (or firm) has helped others like me achieve my goals.”
This is dramatically different from the old outbound approach of persuading people to consider working with you.
How does content marketing level the playing field?
Content marketing is unique since you can’t buy influence. You’re undoubtedly familiar with Google. It has built one of the world’s most successful enterprises by defining and refining the online search process. An important distinction is that Google doesn’t share its search algorithms with the public. That’s because businesses with deep pockets or strong technical resources could game the system. Instead, it continually changes its algorithms so no one can easily figure out how to get their business to rank at the top for a particular keyword.
So what can you do to get to the top of Google or another search engine list when someone types in “financial advisor in Oakland” (or whatever location you are in)?
You can provide value in the form of great content! In Google’s eyes, that means content that provides clear, quality content that answers common questions searched on their platform.
This unique feature allows small firms with limited budgets to compete on level playing fields with larger firms.
What do you need to do content marketing properly?
With content marketing, your goal is to get ranked highly on search engines, so if someone searches for financial advisors in your area, your firm’s name appears at or near the top of the list.
Like with most endeavors, there is a learning curve to get good at content marketing. You’ll need to work with a financial content firm to put together content in a form that the search engines like. Or, you can learn how to do this yourself; it just takes an investment of time and a commitment to the process.
But one thing is critical….if you’re going to start with content marketing, you need a website capable of converting traffic and leads to clients. Otherwise, you may get traffic, but your new website visitors may just as quickly leave if your website isn’t effective.
So before you start, you need the foundations in place, or you potentially will waste time, money, and resources.
Here’s what to check for first:
What content marketing steps should I take first?
Once your website is ready, what steps should you be taking? Usually, blogging is first. Writing high-quality blog articles is still the primary way to generate more traffic to your website.
To start, you’ll need to research what keywords you want to rank for. Then, you’ll need to come up with relevant and interesting topics that use those keywords. One important rule: remember you are writing for the people you’d like to work with. So don’t just write about things you personally find interesting. Instead, write for your ideal clients: what questions do they have, what worries keep them awake at night? If you deal with mostly retired people, they probably have many questions about the impact of rising inflation or how to generate income reliably in a low-interest-rate environment, as an example.
Then, also be careful how you write. Usually, most potential clients will appreciate you writing conversationally. Formal writing is just not that fun to read and may make you sound unapproachable. Instead, try writing how you talk. That can give potential clients a comfort level that you’re knowledgeable but also easy to talk to. Unless your target market is college-level English teachers, casual is usually preferred.
Finally, educate, don’t sell. Including a sales pitch early on in an article usually is a quick way to lose readers. Instead, strive to provide advice and value. That’s how you’re going to gain the attention of someone who needs help.
Does my content always have to be original?
One drawback to content marketing is you have to create high-quality original content on an ongoing basis. Doing it right will mean an investment of time or money depending upon if you do it yourself or outsource the work.
The Content Library equips you with ready-to-use articles, videos, and images for your content marketing strategy. Easily customize the articles in your own voice and revise to target your ideal client base before publishing.
However, in some cases, original content is not always needed. While your blog articles need to be original to be recognized by search engines, your lead magnets and other content don’t always have to be. As long as you keep these pieces behind a gate (which means you require someone to submit their email address before you allow access), you can use a white-label version to save the time, cost, and hassle of developing one from scratch.
There are no shortcuts
As with most worthwhile efforts, there are always mistakes to avoid. The most common one is falling for shortcuts that promise to quickly build your search engine rankings.
Unfortunately, these rankings need to be earned. Inexpensive search engine optimization (SEO) services that promise quick results generally don’t work. Worse, these companies usually have no knowledge of industry regulations. So hiring these firms can, unfortunately, backfire on you, creating potential compliance issues along with penalizing your search engine rankings. That’s why it’s wise only to seek SEO help from reputable firms that understand your industry.
If you’d like us to implement SEO strategies to your website, or you simply don’t have the time to do it yourself, we can help!
Putting it all together
As you can see, today’s marketing looks very different than it did in decades past. But for most independent advisors, this is a welcome development.
While it takes time to build momentum, don’t be surprised to see increased referrals come your way since your efforts make it easier for your existing clients to recommend your firm to their friends.
With its unique level playing field, content marketing can help your firm achieve its business development goals while increasing firm visibility and credibility.
About the Author:
Jeanne Klimowski is the founder of Wavelength Financial Content Inc. Wavelength provides financial content and copywriting that helps financial advisors attract attention and differentiate their businesses online.