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(This article is reposted with permission of the author. It was originally published at Absolute Engagement.)
We know that deeper client engagement is created when you demonstrate leadership and create connection. And while that probably comes naturally when you’re face to face with your clients, the real challenge is doing those things the rest of the time.
I believe a thoughtful content marketing strategy can help. I also believe that the term ‘content marketing’ is, at best, confusing or, at worst, considered to be out of reach. So today I want to clear a few things up and make this as easy as possible.
In many respects, I’ve built my business and my career on creating content. Yes, the focus of our work is delivering presentations, workshops and programs for advisors so ‘content’ is inherent in what we do. What I mean, however, is that I’ve always believed that the best way to connect with advisors is through research and writing – all the stuff we do outside of what we actually get paid to do!
To help me on the quest to understand and simplify content marketing, I spoke to Marion Asnes, President of Idea Refinery. As a former Editor-in-Chief at Financial Planning Magazine and the former Senior Editor for Money Marketing she knows a thing or two about great content.
Content marketing focuses on sharing content with your clients on the topics they care about and which help them make better decisions. It includes content you write or content you curate, but always focuses on helping you guide and add meaningful value to the lives of your clients.
It’s a form of education. And we know that, for clients, education matters.
In our investor research, 76% of clients said it was somewhat or very important that their advisor provide them with education. We also know that when advisors deliver on meaningful education, it has a positive impact on the business. Engaged clients (the ones who are really satisfied, loyal and provide you with referrals) are twice as likely to say their advisor provides them with education.
There is connection between content marketing and engagement because content marketing demonstrates:
And not for nothing, content marketing also demonstrates and supports credibility, which is a critical factor in attracting prospective clients.
Let’s look at what’s really involved.
Asnes says there are three rules to effective content marketing:
What you write about needs to reflect what your clients care about. That may be different than what you think they care about or you think they should care about.
So what do clients care about? According to Asnes, it’s definitely not what the markets did in the last quarter. They care about: retirement, family financial issues or new legislation. She said one of the most popular articles she’s written focused on helping clients understand risk tolerance.
One way Asnes suggests you structure your content is by using a calendar that matches the theme of the articles to different times of year. For example, your calendar might look something like this:
And if you’re stuck for ideas, or aren’t sure what would resonate with your clients, here are a couple of ideas:
If writing isn’t your natural talent, then content marketing will feel daunting. But it doesn’t have to be that way. There are at least three approaches to consider that will lighten the load.
Of course these options aren’t mutually exclusive and the best choice for you should reflect how much you want to be able to control the content calendar and the weight you place on customization.
Asnes makes a great point that you can dip your toe in the waters of content marketing by curating general content but the end goal should be different. The end goal, as she puts it “should be a fully realized website with a blog and an email newsletter that you can send to clients and prospects”. The blog is your ‘home base’ in this case and the email is designed to drive people there.
Remember that clients aren’t the only people reading your content. Articles and blog posts are one of the easiest things you can share directly or encourage your clients to share with others. Remember that shareable content is important when thinking about driving referrals so there are significant benefits to this approach.
A few more practical tips from Asnes:
One piece of advice I can give is this. Remember that you’re writing for your clients and prospects and you want a personal relationship with those people. Make sure the tone is authentic and informal while still being credible. If you can give yourself permission to be yourself and worry less about whether your work will win a Pulitzer you’ll free yourself to write more and connect more.
If you enjoyed this article from Julie Littlechild from Absolute Engagement, have a look at Xtiva’s interview with Julie on the Client Engagement.