What comes to mind when you hear the word “marketing”? If you’re like most people, you may not know where to even start thinking because the possible range of activities, strategies, and tactics that fall under “marketing” are almost endless.
In a way, that’s a good thing, because you have a ton of options for finding a marketing technique that works well for you. But for the most part, it’s just overwhelming and can leave you unsure of where to begin.
Creative Advisor Marketing’s Content Marketing Q & A series aims to solve some of those problems by providing clarity and direction for financial advisors who want simple, straightforward answers to real questions.
My goal? To give you the information you need to move forward with confidence in your inbound marketing strategies.
Questions from Real Financial Advisors on Content Marketing, Answered
This is a mailbag-style series, meaning these questions come from you: advisors, small business owners, and readers of this site.
In this mail call, we’re tackling a ton of great topics, including:
- How to get started with content marketing (especially if your niche is full of advisors who are already crushing it)
- How to publish on your WordPress site
- Whether or not Facebook is still worth your time, considering the recent shenanigans with data and privacy concerns
- How advisors can make time for social media when they have an entire business to run
Thank you to the advisors who sent in their questions this month. All of these questions came from the CAM Community, which you can join here if you’re not yet a member.
This is a great place to drop your own questions after reading this mailbag!
Question: How do you compete with more established firms who have been doing content marketing forever — and you’re just getting started?
I’m relatively new to the industry and although I feel completely confident in my ability to provide a great service to my clients and value well in excess of their fees, I feel like I’m bringing a water pistol to a gun fight when marketing against some of the more established advisors in my niche.
I do have some work to do in defining my niche, but there are just so many advisors out there who already seem like they’re doing an impressive job at content marketing.
How can a newer firm compete with more established marketing pros, especially when content development isn’t your strength?
Answer: This is a complex question and I love it. I’m excited to dig in and provide you with a detailed answer, but to do that I’m going to break this down and go through it layer by layer.
When I read this, I saw three main questions:
- How do you get started when you’re new(er) to the industry and/or content marketing for your firm?
- How do you succeed at marketing when you’re going up against more established “rockstars” in your same niche?
- How do you leverage content marketing if content creation isn’t your strength?
I’ll answer the first two together, and then move on to the third. Here we go:
How do you get started when you’re new(er) to the industry and/or content marketing for your firm? How do you succeed at marketing when you’re going up against more established “rockstars” in your same niche?
You’re probably not going to like this answer, but honestly? Just get started. I’m serious. This kind of question is 100% a waste of your time to even ponder.
I don’t mean to be harsh, so I’ll tell you why I say that: the best time to start anything was yesterday. The second best time is right now. Not even “today,” but NOW.
I can completely empathize with this question because I’m dealing with this right now. I just started a personal finance blog from scratch and I’m growing it organically right now. It is not easy to get started… but the only thing to do is just get started.
If I spent time thinking about how many other bloggers out there have bigger followings, book deals, income streams just from their blogs, etc, I would never have set up my blog and gotten started. It’s insanely intimidating when you look at this challenge from that angle.
So here’s what I would do:
- Forget about what other established advisors are doing — except to actually audit their strategies and see what you can copy. Don’t need to steal or plagiarize, but study what other successful advisors are doing and see what characteristics the big players in the arena all have in common. Then experiment with that yourself. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel and you can be grateful someone else is already out there rocking it because all that means is they’ve left you a blueprint to follow when you’re just getting started. Makes it way easier than stumbling around in the dark.
- Get specific on your niche. Women. Physicians. Families. Not niches. Go deeper. If you feel stuck, stop thinking in terms of demographics (age, gender, occupation, etc). Start thinking in terms of psychographics. These are things like worldviews, beliefs, philosophies, and values. You may find you still end up wanting to help women in a particular industry — but perhaps you can refine your niche to say something like, “I help people like this who believe in things like that.” Get specific about what your niche deeply desires, wants, fears, and values about the world and about themselves.
- Speak to your niche audience in your authentic voice. At some point, however, you’re going to have to figure out where you can deviate from someone else’s blueprint and leap out on your own. The easiest way to do that is to dig into your authenticity and your values/philosophy. Start developing your own voice and find areas where you feel really passionate about something. What lights you up and leaves you feeling energized anytime you talk about it? That’s a good starting point.
At this point, if you take all these steps, you essentially just eliminated your competition because no one else is going to be serving that group of people and delivering your specific message in your unique, individual voice.
Your next step is to identify your strengths and then pick one thing to do. Then DO IT.
Ultimately, thinking about how you can “catch up” isn’t a good use of your energy. You are where you are. Start with what you have an run your own race. And if you need the reminder, read this post on all the advantages of having no audience when you’re getting started with content marketing.
How do you leverage content marketing if content creation isn’t your strength?
Creating content is a skill. That means you can learn it.
But first, identify what it is about content marketing that seems difficult to you. Here are some common complaints and easy fixes for each:
- Not a good writer? Make videos or podcasts instead. Don’t try to write out your blog posts; use a voice-to-text app or tool to speak your content out loud. Then run the text through an editor like Hemingway to help you clean it up before you publish it.
- Don’t have time? Get more efficient. If you’re just getting started with your firm, you have OODLES of time. Eventually, that time will get eaten up by client work as you grow… but for now, time is your resource and I would be willing to bet money you have more time than you think you do. Track your time for a week and then come back and tell me you don’t have enough of it. The reality likely is you’re not being efficient or effective with your time. (And I say this from experience.) The solution is to get ruthless with your schedule, your task management, your productivity, and your focus. Commit to spending 1 hour a day on your content marketing and you will find the hour you need to get shit done.
- Really don’t have time? If you truly don’t have any time, you need to outsource tasks to someone who can help you. Depending on the task, that could be a VA or it could be someone like me, a full-time marketing specialist. The way I help clients distinguish what they need to hand off to who is by having them ask a simple question when evaluating every task: is this skill-intensive or merely time-intensive? If anyone could complete the task with a simple set of instructions or 15 minutes of training, you need to outsource to a VA. If the task requires skill, expertise, or specialized knowledge, you need an expert.
And what if you just don’t know what you’re doing? This brings us back to the beginning: the answer, in this case, is to learn.
There is so much amazing (and free) educational content out there on content marketing. Take advantage of that. I suggest that you start with HubSpot Academy. They have amazing beginner education courses on everything inbound marketing, and it’s all free.
I also love this beginner’s guide to content marketing from Moz. It’s a little older, but the fundamentals are really sound. This guide to creating a content marketing strategy from Buffer is good, too.
Want to learn about SEO? I have you covered there.
Beyond that, I would suggest simply Googling specific questions when they come up (like, “how do I create my own images for social media?” or “how do I write a killer bio?”) and you will find no shortage of great answers to guide you along the way.
And of course, there’s always stuff like this: great blogs that produce a ton of free content to help you change the way you think about marketing and provide tips and tricks for doing it better.
In addition to the CAM blog here, these are my current faves when it comes to content marketing content:
Question: How do you post a blog to a WordPress website? I mean that literally: how do I get my post from Word to WordPress, format it well, include an on-brand image, and publish it?
Answer: This is another question I loved because it’s so simple — and often, something fundamental is really hard to find the answer to when you’re searching online because it seems like it’s just widely assumes that everyone knows how to do it!
But you know what? We all start somewhere and learning the best way to knock out those basics is a great way to ensure you have a solid foundation of skills to build on.
To answer this question, I created a quick screensharing video that you can check out that will walk you through the entire process of writing a post in WordPress, along with my tips for finding an image that fits your brand and publishing the whole post as a cohesive, high-quality piece of content that serves as marketing collateral for your brand.
PS: The tool I used to record this little video was the free version of Screencastify — which only lets you record for 10 minutes at a time, and you’ll see we ran up on the limit here! 😉
Question: Will Facebook be a viable social media platform for financial advisors going forward?
I know it has worked in the past but with so many questions and fears around data and privacy… will people shy away?
Answer: It will take a lot for people to stop using Facebook. It’s easy to complain, but Facebook is (and all social media networks are) designed to be addictive.
And the simple fact is, people are addicted to it.
While the recent privacy issues feel scary, we’ve actually been here before. Other sites, companies, and firms have misused their customer or user data… and most of those businesses are still standing today.
Why? Because data issues are probably too intangible to make people break a habit and spend the energy to find a new solution. (And no, that’s not a hardcore scientific answer, just my take.)
We’ve also been here before in the context of seeing a lot of outrage aimed at a particular social network that lasts for a few weeks and includes a lot of stomping around threatening to kill the platform by abandoning it.
It happens every time Twitter changes its settings, or Instagram changes its algorithms. One group or another gets up in arms about it or some other issue and may even storm off the network.
But it’s not enough to disrupt the entire user base or even to force the network to actually change. Many of the miffed users eventually come back, if they ever left in the first place.
Are Facebook’s days numbered? Probably. But not so much because of recent data issues. I imagine it’s probably because Facebook’s user base is aging — and they’re not attracting the next generation like they captured millennials.
There’s going to be a next big thing that “all the kids these days” get into, and it won’t be the social media networks you and I are currently on or prefer. Teenagers today don’t use Facebook. Why? Because their parents are on there.
If you want to stay on top of trends, I’d follow someone like Gary Vaynerchuk who actively runs experiments on just about every new social network that pops up to see how he can leverage it for marketing.
But if you’re more concerned with marketing your business (rather than knowing what the “next big thing” will be)… I’d say keep using Facebook because your audience is likely there. People 30 and up still use Facebook and, bringing us back to where this started, will continue using Facebook for a long time to come.
That being said, I think it’s smart to stay aware and pay attention. Keep up to date on things as they evolve, but you don’t necessarily need to feel pressured to be on the bleeding edge of all things new.
You should, however, remain open to experimenting and testing with other platforms. In addition to keeping an eye on what thought leaders like Gary Vee are doing in the content marketing world, I’d sign up for something like Hubspot’s marketing email newsletter.
That will help you keep pace with the latest developments in the industry, but at a higher level that will help prevent you from feeling overwhelmed.
Question: You say interacting with your audience on social media as a must, but how does a solo advisor do this while also running a business? Is it smart to outsource this interaction?
Answer: I get it what you mean: it is hard to find the time to create content for social media. But it gets a lot easier when you create a strategy, set up a plan, and execute efficiently.
I’m a “solopreneur” who has a business with a blog (obviously, you’re reading that right now); a separate brand that is also a blog with a growing Instagram presence; a number of other social media accounts between my business and personal brands; I send out at least 2 email campaigns a week between those brands… and I create content for all my clients, too.
Yes, it’s a lot. But I’m saying this to make the point that if I can create all this on a consistent basis, you can find the time to post on Facebook and LinkedIn 3 times per week. It’s only impossible if you don’t make a system and a process for it.
By system and process, that means no logging into Twitter and scrolling through your feed for an hour. That is not an effective way to leverage social. Think about it: endlessly scrolling isn’t being “active” on social media. It’s passively looking at what everyone else is doing.
When you get active about social media, that does involve engaging with people — but you do so in a deliberate, mindful way.
Here’s a quick peek at the steps I take to make social media management more… well, manageable:
- I turn off notifications on my phone. I treat social media as work, not entertainment. That helps me from falling down the rabbit hole of the feeds and wasting time.
- Because it’s work, I treat social media as a task. “Social Media Check” is literally a 15-minute task in Asana, my task manager that I set to recurring. I have another task for “Social Media Scheduling,” which is an hour-long block of time that happens once a week where I sit down, write all the content I want to share for the week, and then schedule it to send.
- I use Hootsuite to manage my social media platforms. This allows me to see all my feeds — Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn in one place. It’s much more efficient than logging into each platform individually. And again, I schedule out my content. That is mandatory if you want to engage on social media without wasting time. My 15-minute-per-day check ins with each account are my times to respond to comments or messages, and to quickly interact with others.
Tackling social media in this organized, strategic way allows me to be engaged and prolific with my content — without spending massive amounts of time on social media itself.
Have Content Marketing Questions? Get Answers!
I invite you to send me the questions you have around:
- Inbound marketing
- Social media
- Email marketing
- Project management
- Freelancing or entrepreneurship
- Strategy and creative development
…or whatever it is that’s on your mind as an advisor or business owner who wants to start growing influence and gaining clients.
I’ll answer your question directly in an upcoming mailbag so you can stop feeling stuck and start taking action.