You bet it is!! In fact inbound marketing, often called content marketing has become one of the key elements of the marketing mix for financial advisers today.
First of all, to explain what is meant by inbound or content marketing… Most importantly it is not about selling, instead it is about creating engagement with your target audiences. Marketing has evolved, the days are over of only trying to hit people over the head with a constant stream of sales messages through advertising, sales campaigns and other traditional sales methods. While these methods still have a place, consumers today want to be engaged, to be warmed up and to be made aware of why they should deal with you. This is where inbound marketing comes in.
The aim of this engagement is that your audiences will view you as someone worth listening to and in time, will ultimately seek you out for your professional expertise. This is done through inbound marketing – providing your target audiences with insights, ideas, tips and commentary in relation to personal finance matters. In time, this will make them far more open to your sales messages that will follow at the appropriate time.
This approach delivers a number of benefits for financial advisers. First of all, it enables you to stay in touch with existing clients by putting interesting insights in front of them and keeping them aware of the breadth of the product range that you can advise them about. It also helps you to establish yourself as a thought leader and someone to be listened to, among both prospective clients and the wider public at large. Finally fresh content on your website is a critical component of a Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) strategy.
So what are some of the elements of a great content marketing strategy?
Know your audience
Know who your target audience is. Is it local business owners, particular occupations or particular age groups? Who are you actually writing that new website page, blog or email newsletter for? Write for this audience about topics of interest to them. Try to put yourself in their shoes and think about what they will want to read. If your audience find it interesting, they’ll view you as someone to listen to and will seek out your content…and hopefully in time your advice in relation to their personal finances.
Make sure it looks good
First of all, your content has to look engaging. Use a solid design and layout. I always tell financial advisers to “Think Apple”. For any of you who have bought an Apple product, you’ll know what I mean – the excellent quality, yet simple packaging that really impresses you as you unpack your phone or iPad. Your blog / newsletter should have the same impact. It should look very professional, enticing people to read it. At the end of the day, you want to portray the professionalism of your business in every single touch point with your clients, both online and offline.
Have a plan
I know from talking to some advisers (and from my own experience too) that lack of time to update the website or write a newsletter is often just an excuse for a lack of structure or ideas. There’s nothing worse than relying on your brain kicking into action every month or so when you’ve no idea what you’re going to write about! So what happens is you find something else to do and satisfy yourself that you’re just too busy to write the content.
The way to deal with this is to develop a content calendar for the year. Spend a few hours at the start of the year brainstorming ideas that you’ll write about, either as new pages on your website or as newsletter articles. Once you get a few ideas down, I promise that the creative juices will start to flow and more topics will come to mind. As potential topics come to mind now and at a later stage too, drop them into the calendar with a few bullet points of what the article might cover.
Now you’ll have a structure to ensure you don’t lose potential content ideas as you go along and it will also give you a starting point every time you sit down to write that article. You’ll actually find after a while that you’ve too much content and now can actually start being selective in what you write about.
What do you write about?
You’ll be glad to know that everyone sees this as one of the biggest hurdles! However, with a bit of thought, you will quickly realise how relatively easy it is to overcome this particular challenge. You absolutely need a helping hand to come up with the topics to write about. So here are a few sources that will help prompt some ideas for you.
First of all, listen to your clients. Probe them about areas of interest to them and areas where they they’d like more information. Are there particular challenges they face in relation to their personal finances where they would like some general advice? If you ask a number of customers, I’m confident that themes will start to emerge for you.
Secondly, keep your content schedule at the back of your mind when you go to a presentation, read the newspapers or indeed just go online. These are each great sources of ideas, which can be used by you as prompts for you to develop your thoughts and position on – not to copy and paste but for you to set out your viewpoint and flavour on these topics.
Some financial advisers take a short cut and rather than writing their own content, they only share out links to other websites through LinkedIn and Twitter. This type of shared content has its place, however I think it can only sit alongside some original content that you are writing yourself. It’s great to share content that is of interest to your audience but they also want to know what you think! Using the content of other people, while better than doing nothing, is not enough on its own.
So yes, content marketing needs to be an integral part of the marketing plans of financial advisers today. Once you start to really engage your prospective and existing clients, they will soon realise your expertise and the added value you offer. In time, some of your audience will hopefully want to talk to you about their wider financial affairs…and their product needs.
Have you any thoughts in relation to content marketing? If you do, please leave them below.