In the financial services business, time is money. But too many advisors fall into the trap of trying to write their way out of a jam and into more business.
It almost never works.
But for new advisors, or those who have reached a plateau because they have just enough appointments that it interferes with their writing and inbound marketing efforts, the temptation is strong to fill up those appointment-free hours not by doing more lead generation for financial advisors, but by sitting at a computer for hours writing blogs and articles.
It’s a formula for mediocrity at best, and the slow death of an advisors practice at worst.
Yes, you do need a robust marketing effort, and a huge chunk of that should be content marketing that establishes you as a trustworthy expert in your field. But the fact remains that there are only 24 hours in a day, and there is only so much you can write yourself.
Beware the information bubble
Of course, trying to do significant writing and marketing yourself is a horrendous time sink. But that’s only part of the problem. When a financial advisor is wasting time avoiding prospecting and calling clients by writing blogs and articles, there is another danger.
Trying to do it all yourself creates a dangerous information bubble, in which you limit your exposure to new information to the same sources with the same biases. You shut yourself off to contrary information. You then fall victim to one of the most destructive forces in investing: confirmation bias. This leaves you and your clients vulnerable when markets change direction.
The solution: Keep up the content marketing. Put the petal to the metal. But don’t try to write it – curate it!
What is content curation?
When it comes to the marketing of financial services, content curation is the service of sifting through the noise, discarding the sloppy, misinformed and marketing garbage, and presenting the best information for a given audience. The curator adds value for the reader, because the curator saves the reader time and effort, and provides reliable, useful information.
The best curators add more value by providing expert commentary and insight, along with the third-party content.
According to a study by Trapit in 2014, content curation is now an integral part of the marketing strategy at 74 percent of companies surveyed.
This has a number of benefits:
- It saves your most precious resource: It’s much less time consuming to curate quality content than trying to generate everything in-house, from scratch.
- You still look like an expert in the field. Perhaps even more so. How can you be an expert in the field if you aren’t well read?
- It builds credibility and enhances trust. Studies show that consumers are clamoring for reliable, unbiased sources of financial information and basic advice. When you curate information written by others, forwarding only solid, reliable and vetted information to your prospects and clients, you will be establishing a foundation of trust and goodwill that will pay big dividends when you contact these people for an appointment or factfinder, or when you finally ask them to become your client.
- It provides other sites an opportunity to link to yours. Inbound links from quality sources can provide a tremendous boost to your search engine ranking.
- You can ‘touch’ prospects and clients much more often. This helps keep you and your financial planning practice in what marketers call ‘top of mind awareness.’
- You learn, too. The process of curating content from a variety of sources is an education in itself. It exposes you to new ways of thinking, different sources of information and different ways of processing that information. Once you stop trying to write everything out of your own head, and open yourself to a wider spectrum of sources and information, it is very difficult to get trapped in an information bubble – and you are unlikely to drag your clients into one with you.
Essentially, content curation platforms like Feedly and Curata can act as a faithful assistant, saving you the time-consuming process of clicking through dozens of sites, by delivering them to you all in one place, on demand, in a way that’s easy for you to scan and share.
In the past, advisors used to have to take home a pile of newsletters and industry periodicals to keep up with industry news. But with platforms like Feedly, Google Alerts and Curata, financial advisors can now take care of what used to be a weekend-destroying amount of reading in under an hour.
How to make your content curation efforts more effective
Personalize it. When you share an article over social media, include a personal note from you about what makes it particularly interesting or relevant. This way, you’re branding you and your firm. Readers will gain from the process, and they will associate you, personally, with the positive interaction.
Include a call-to-action. When you post a blog or other article, encourage the reader to take some action:
- Call and make an appointment
- Download a whitepaper
- Watch your ‘explainer video’
- Download your e-book
- Stop by the office
- Leave a comment
- Fill out a factfinder
- Visit your website
Your call to action, or CTA, can be anything that moves the reader closer to becoming a client, or further establishes you as a thought-leader in your market. Just be sure that when the reader follows your call to action, that you are ready to deliver as promised.
Set up alerts. Carefully choose a few keywords that are closely aligned with your core business and expertise, and set up a Google Alert on the topic. This will deliver an email directly to your email box every day or every week when your chosen topic makes the news.
Set up a newsfeed. RSS feeds are a valuable tool, along with Google alerts. Your feed constantly scours the top sources in your field, including industry journals and blogs for the most relevant information concerning the keywords you select. It then automatically forwards them to your email. For example, you can binge read industry information at home in bed at 4AM. But if you post articles now, most people won’t read it. RSS lets you schedule posts to go up during peak hours, when your content will reach more people. Feedly.com is a great resource for this, and you can sign in via a Facebook or Twitter account.
Once you open the stories in your browser, it’s easy for you to share them, or post them to your own blog or website, or email them to select contacts.
Share frequently. Studies show that the more you post quality information online, via your blog or your social media account, the more conversions you will get and the more sales you will make. Strive for at least 15 per month, which means curate and/or share one piece at least once every couple of days.
Spread the wealth. Be generous when it comes to ‘liking’ and ‘sharing’ great information from others on blogs and social media. In the long run, it will generate more traffic back to you, as other opinion-makers begin to read your feed regularly and quote, share and retweet you.
Mix it up. Don’t rely 100% on other peoples’ content. Most large companies have found that a mixture of curated and original content works best. Generate some in house, or hire an experienced financial writer to help you. Don’t get sucked too deep in the process; you should be calling clients and prospects, not playing writer. A good ghostwriter can keep building your brand, while enabling you to focus on your sales efforts and client service.
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Measuring your success
This kind of marketing is notoriously difficult to get a precise ROI on. But you can gauge the progress of your content curation effort over time by tracking a few key metrics:
- Total pageviews
- Length of pageviews
- Count visits
- Visitor trends
- Number of emails captured for future marketing
- Number of phone calls captured
- Number of commenters on social media
- Number of e-newsletter subscribers
- Number of white paper or e-book downloads
- Number of shares, likes and follows.
In the financial services business, ultimately, you’ll want to record your source of lead in your CRM software. Ask your clients whether your content marketing and curation made a difference in their decision to do business with you. Record the results in your CRM. When you do this over time, it’s very easy to run a report and identify how much revenue is coming to you as a direct or indirect result of your content marketing effort, and to track that result over time.
Of course, content curation is not going to be the magic bullet that makes your practice successful. Ultimately, that comes down to your hard work in prospecting, following up on leads, generating factfinders and your ability to close the sale and collect a check for your fees. And then it comes down to your ability to provide excellent service over time, and thereby generate referrals.
But content curation can help free up a lot of time for you to focus on the core aspects of your profession, while making your core business activities much more effective.
Believe me: Everyone who is referred to your business will be checking you out online – usually before you even know their name. Make sure your online presence is professional and extensive, and you’ll be bringing in more clients before you know it.