Tried content marketing as an advisor, and feel like it flopped?
It may not be because you had bad content, or because you didn’t do it well enough. It could simply be that the type of business you run and the clients you want aren’t a great match for this strategy.
Remember, content marketing (and inbound in general), is just one approach to use. Depending on your goals, it might not make sense to invest time and resources into churning out content that won’t actually provide you with any kind of return.
Before you dive into any marketing strategy, you need to know the following:
- Why do you want to market your business? (This may look like an obvious question, but you might be surprised: most people have varying answers. Take the time to consider your reason.)
- What do you hope to achieve with a marketing campaign? What are your goals?
- How will you track those goals or measure if you accomplished what you set out to do when you started marketing? How will you know if you reached “success”?
- Who do you want to reach with your marketing? Where are those people?
Answering these questions for yourself will give you some insight into what kind of marketing tactic you’ll want to try (or which ones you prioritize over others that you also want to try).
If, for example, you want to reach younger professionals between the ages of 26 and 40, you probably want to consider content marketing or other inbound marketing strategies.
Why? This group doesn’t have much faith in financial services as a whole and they don’t trust many people — not even friends or family — for financial advice. Throwing an advertisement in their face for your financial planning firm isn’t likely to get you far with this group.
But they are digitally-savvy and active on social media. A campaign to create educational, valuable content and provide it to them over the channels they enjoy consuming other types of media or content on can help you establish a connection with them, building trust and demonstrating your expertise.
That’s just one instance where I’d argue content marketing will triumph over any other kind of approach.
But what if you want to reach folks who are a year or two out from retirement, who, while active on social media, just don’t consume as much content online and still tune into local news stations or radio programs? Taking out advertisements and talking up your credentials may hold more weight with that group that a well-written blog post.
(Note that you still need the well-written content online. Even people who hear about you through traditional marketing channels will look you up online to learn more, so your web presence must be strong regardless.)
If it’s not immediately clear whether content marketing is worth a shot, consider these other signs that indicate you’re better off working a different kind of campaign.
1. You Don’t Have a Unique Offering (or a Niche)
I KNOW, I KNOW. You’re sick of hearing that it’s time to niche.
But just because I think that creating a niche is important doesn’t mean you have to do it. Plenty of RIAs succeed by serving “individuals, couples, and families.” (AKA, everyone.)
If that’s you, you probably don’t need to worry about content marketing. Trying to write content for everyone is nearly impossible, and the effort will likely backfire.
Creating for everyone will likely leave you with a product that appeals to no one. Focus on other marketing efforts instead, like in-person networking and building a referral network to pull in clients instead of trying to write a generic blog post on “why you should use a Roth IRA.”
(As a side note: if you want to niche but are struggling to do it, consider what current segment of your client base you want to grow. Maybe you work with a couple military families, and really enjoy providing value to them. You could start targeting more of those types of clients while still serving your larger base.)
2. You Don’t Compete on Value
Do you compete on value, or on price? For businesses that compete on price, content marketing isn’t an effective approach. There’s not much of a message to share except, “hey, we’re cheaper.”
When you compete on value, you’re looking at what kind of quality outcome you can deliver. That could be a tangible thing, like saving a client more money on insurance policies than they’ll end up paying you for a financial plan.
Or it could be more intangible, like providing peace of mind, confidence around financial decisions, and making complex situations simple and easy to understand so they can get in action instead of being stuck and confused about what to do.
Competing on value gives you something to create content around and about. Competing on price requires a different marketing approach.
I don’t mean to knock the compete-on-price model (especially if you see it working for your business!) or to say that content is always “better.” Again, it’s about different, not necessarily better.
Fact is, there’s not much of a nuanced story you can tell with “we will do the work for less than the other guy.” Instead, I’d consider focusing on paid advertisements around offers that your competitors likely won’t beat in terms of cost to the consumer.
3. You’re a Generalist
We’ve touched on this a bit already, but it’s worth repeating: if you generalize, you’ll struggle to execute an effective content marketing strategy.
Great content marketing requires you to create content that tells a unique story to attract a specific kind of person. Why?
There’s so much content out there. Prospective clients need to have some way to filter out the noise so they can focus on what’s important to them. Your content won’t get much traction if it’s about general information or facts.
That’s both because that’s not compelling and because that content will likely get buried under hundreds if not thousands of similar results in a search engine.
SEO plays a big part in any kind of content creation and distribution efforts. Generic content designed to appeal to anyone tends to fall below more specific, targeted, and detailed content that answers a precise question for a web visitor.
Don’t waste your time churning out general content that could apply to anyone. Again, direct your efforts toward strategies that match your business model.
If you’re generalizing, you need to think mass communication on a big scale. (Specialists can focus on looking at a small niche and being very specific about who they’re talking to.)
4. You Hate It
Let’s get real: you do not need to waste your time with content marketing if you hate every minute of the work it requires.
If you hate blogging, if you think Twitter is the most asinine thing you’ve ever seen, if you don’t want to hear another thing about “lead nurture campaigns” and “automations,” then stop.
Seriously. It’s not worth the frustration it causes you.
Financial Advisors Can Start Marketing Without Content
You officially have permission to avoid content marketing if you so choose. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do any kind of marketing, of course.
Pick up another option, like:
- Building a referral network. There’s nothing wrong with asking for referrals. The key is not to be pushy or obnoxious, and respect the responses you get when you ask for a referral (especially if that answer is “no,” or “I’ll keep you in mind but don’t know anyone to send to you right now.”)In addition to asking clients for referrals, you can reach out to other professionals in your network. Most advisors already know to work closely with estate planning attorneys and CPAs — but what about other business owners who may provide services to the same people who need financial advice?
- Network in person. Online, digital marketing is great because there’s no limit to who you can reach (no matter where they are). But that doesn’t mean you should always hide behind a screen and avoid getting out and doing some legwork.Attend events in your area. If there aren’t any that you’d want to attend to make new connections, start your own. Building a community yourself is a great way to network and get your name out there as a trusted, hardworking person who can provide a lot of value on many fronts.
- Look at old-school marketing techniques. There’s an advisor in our neighborhood in Boston who is incredibly well-known thanks to well-placed paid advertisements
- Get someone else to do it for you. You may hate content marketing, but I run a business that provides content marketing for financial advisors because I love it. I’m not the only one, either.Depending on your needs, preferences, budget, and goals, you can find the right person to help you create a little content and keep up with newer marketing techniques without having to worry about doing it yourself.Look into hiring a VA (or virtual assistant) if you just need some help scheduling content to publish and distributing it across all your online channels. Or consider bringing on a marketing consultant who can work with your to create a robust marketing plan and brainstorm ways you can make the most of content (without driving yourself crazy). Or hire a content creator who can execute on all your excellent ideas.
There are lots of options for getting involved with content marketing — without having to do the work yourself.
If you’re making use of one of these strategies, you can also complement them with a little content on the side. After all, even if you’re not proactively generating content in an effort to scoop up leads, the people you market to in more traditional ways will still Google your name or look up your website before following up with you.
At a minimum, you must have a well-designed website that shares a message that resonates with your target market. An updated blog helps you look active, involved, and aware of what’s going on, too.
Keeping a presence on social media will help cement you as the right choice in the minds of people who consider working with you, too. Social media is a great way to provide proof of your expertise and influence and reinforces the good impression you made in-person or with an old-school marketing tactic.
And yes, this works in reverse!
Even if you like content marketing (or pieces of it), you should consider how you can incorporate the above ideas into your overall marketing strategy.
Content, while powerful and effective, is just one path toward building brand awareness, increasing your reach and influence, and getting clients. Think about what else you can and want to do, and don’t limit yourself to just one approach.