Bowl your clients over with your content

One of the main marketing challenges faced by many of the financial advice businesses that I meet, is around the production of good quality content that will really help them engage their clients. Here are a few thoughts to help you overcome this challenge.


Be Organised & Committed

The secret ingredient! We’ve all faced that looming deadline for “my turn” to produce that article we’d promised to go into a newsletter or as an update on the website. It’s tough when you’ve no idea what you’re going to write about! The good news is that you’re not alone, this is the single biggest challenge faced by everyone tasked with writing content.

To avoid this, set up a “Content Calendar” for the year. Get all the potential contributors into a room for an hour or so and brainstorm loads of article topics. As potential subject areas come to mind, drop them into the calendar with a few bullet points of what the article might cover.

What will this achieve? First of all, it gets you started each month – you know what you’re going to be writing about. Secondly and as important, as new ideas come along over the year, they get inserted ahead of other articles that mightn’t be as strong. So now you’re driving up the quality of your topics. You’ll actually find after a while that you’ve too much content and now can actually start being selective about what you write. Hard to believe but it happens, every time you have a Content Calendar.

And once you start, stay committed to the process.


Be Relevant

Your audience are far more likely to engage with your content if it is relevant to them. So as you develop out your content topics, spend some time thinking about them from your audience’s perspective. The latest developments in investment software or some obscure technical point about pensions might be of interest to you. But your clients probably won’t give a hoot…

They want to know about topics that will impact their lives, so put yourself in their shoes and develop your content with them in mind. Of course you need to know who your audience is before you can do this. Are they business owners, professionals or are you focused on personal protection etc. for families? If you have very diverse audiences, you might need to target specific content at specific people. All pretty straightforward to do with the wonders of modern technology…


Be an Educator, not a Salesman

Your audience will switch off if you spend your time pushing sales messages at them. At the end of the day, they will see your content as simply an ongoing sales campaign and will disengage.  Add value by writing about financial issues or challenges that affect them in their lives, in which you can exhibit your expertise. Aim to be seen as an expert, an educator, someone with valuable insights that will help your clients, rather than a salesperson.

To make this easier for yourself, write about topics you know. This means that you won’t have to spend loads of time researching topics, and this familiarity with the subject will help you write better content too.

You see the world of marketing has changed. Rather than trying to constantly interrupt people with messages to sell, sell, sell; successful advice businesses are establishing themselves as thought leaders, as educators and as experts. So then when potential clients at their own time of choosing have a financial need, they will naturally gravitate towards these advice firms that they already see as valuable.


Be Alert

Great topics to write about will emerge from a range of sources. Presentations you attend, conversations you have, comments from other clients. Once your antenna is up, you’ll start to identify nuggets from what other people say – their challenges, their areas of interest, the issues they want to read about. So write about these!

Also when reading a newspaper or surfing the web, you’ll come across loads of topics of potential interest to your audience. Put your own spin on these topics and write about them too.


Be Brief

Be expert but also be brief. The purpose of your content is to engage your audience, not to demonstrate that you know every intimate detail of a topic. Typically an article of 750 to 1,000 words can be read (and written) quickly and will perform well in search results. If you only have 500 (good) words though, go with that – don’t pad it out to get to 750 words.

Make your content easy to read too. Use headings and/or bullet points to make it easier for the reader. If the topic is just not capable of being explained in anything close to 1,000 words, break it out into a series of articles. And now the challenge next month has just got easier…


Be Found

What has this got to do with Content? Well, one of the key drivers of strong performance in Google search results is original, good quality content. While this might not have been a driver behind your efforts to produce a regular stream of good content, it’s a very valuable bonus.


At the end of the day, I reckon the initial thought of producing a lot of content is far more daunting than the reality! I hope these thoughts help you with your challenge.

image courtesy of Flickr / Mohammad ALNajdi

The power of storytelling

A number of people commented to me after I recently shared an article from the New York Times. To my mind, this is one of the best case studies I’ve ever read about the power of working with an excellent financial planner. This is not a story about the planner enabling mega-growth in somebody’s wealth. Instead it is the real-life story of how a financial planner helped steer the journalist and his siblings through the death of their father.

The power of this planner’s approach with this family was not in clever financial solutions, it was all about the practical advice given, the quiet hand on the tiller guiding them through one of the most difficult periods of their life and the heartfelt empathy demonstrated as the planner travelled on the difficult road with her clients.

The reason the article has such an impact is because it is not some theoretical explanation of the benefits of financial planning, instead it is demonstrating it in a real-life situation. It is bringing real emotion into an educational and insightful piece.


Make it personal

It reminded me of a conversation I had in the last year with a great Irish financial planner. We were discussing content marketing and LinkedIn & Twitter in particular. He mentioned that his most Liked / Shared / Commented article was a post he put up about celebrating his son’s birthday. However the post was not just about a birthday party, it was about making time for the really important parts of our lives, and doing this in a financially responsible way. Life is not just about working and accumulating wealth, instead it is about being able to live our lives as we choose to do. Excellent financial planning demonstrates to your clients how you can make this happen. Telling this through a personal story makes it much more engaging than an “Expert Insight” piece about financial planning.


Give real-life examples

While I can’t claim to have written such powerful pieces myself, I regularly see the strength of more personal content myself. Over the last year, I’ve written a number of pieces about the impacts of working with backdrop of Covid-19. The most read articles were the ones where I gave some insights into how I’ve approached working in this environment, what has worked well and the mistakes I’ve made for others now to avoid! People want to read real-life stories and examples.

People like insights into your life and how you actually work. Each year I write about apps and technology that I can’t live without and these are some of my most-read articles each year. I was left scratching my head for a few years about this, as I could not understand why these would be read more than the other great and insightful (in my mind) content that I’m writing all of the time!! It’s because people get an insight into the person and how they work.

There’s a lot to be gained from maybe stepping a little out of your comfort zone, opening up a little more than you may have done so previously, and even leaving yourself a little vulnerable.


People will relate and engage better with your personal stories.