Financial planners generally want to market to people with money. They’re the ones that can afford to pay for your services, which will enable you to grow your firm.
But few generalist financial planners are prospering today. The most successful firms are those who are focusing on specific market niches, and who are able to develop effective personas to define and focus their marketing and content writing.
A recent report from TD Ameritrade found that advisors who were able to target market niches were substantially more successful than general practitioners. Specifically, the median operating profit margin was 18% greater, and median annual client growth was 35% greater for firms with a specific target market.
So it pays to specialize.
That has important ramifications when it comes to content marketing: Generic, low-quality, generalized content won’t cut it any more. If it ever did.
Instead, the most successful inbound marketing is based on content that adds meaningful value for the specific kinds of people you are looking to attract and serve. It should also be unique, if not totally original. Google rewards uniqueness – and punishes websites that display content that’s duplicated somewhere else.
But creating quality, unique content requires an investment. Should you do it yourself? Delegate it to staff? Hire your own freelancer? Hire a writing/content services vendor?
The right answer depends on your situation, the type of client you want to reach, and, of course, your budget. Here are four great ways (and one bad way) to do it.
The first option is to create the content yourself. But most advisors are much better off meeting with clients and making phone calls rather than writing. Good financial writers can make the difference between an article that resonates with your targeted audience and one that has no value. They may charge more than other writers, but it’s worth it. So in practice, this is a sub-optimal solution for planners looking to grow their practices. Actually, when you account for lost productivity, trying to be your own content writer can be disastrously expensive.
The second-best solution – delegate the task to a professional financial writer who understands financial planning, understands your business and your firm’s strengths and weaknesses, and who understands the client base you are trying to attract.
Many large and successful firms do precisely this, and have their own staff or one or two steady relationships with freelance writers. Essentially, buying “bespoke.” This can be a great solution for established firms and those targeting specific niches.
Some firms combine staff-written and freelance content to great effect.
Purchase an Exclusive License.
Another option is to purchase some form of exclusive rights to a creative work. This can be an article, an infographic, a blog post or even an entire newsletter or magazine.
Exclusive licensing arrangements allow smaller firms and those on tighter budgets to access the same professional quality and polish produced by major marketing firms, at a fraction of the cost per article.
You can contract for the sole publishing rights in your city, county or state. So you won’t be the only firm publishing a given article. But you won’t have to worry about your client asking you how come he got the same article from her accountant and insurance agent. That’s embarrassing!
Exclusive licensing isn’t suitable for planners looking to market themselves nationwide. These planners are better off just purchasing full electronic and print rights outright. And it won’t be totally unique content. But it can still be very cost-effective for those focusing on their own communities. A local search advantage can mitigate any lost points you may have for duplicate content.
Most of this kind of writing is done by marketing agencies and writing services. It’s critical to choose a vendor who understands the financial planning industry, and who has a stable of writers who are veterans of the financial services industry and who understand investing, compliance and the financial planning process.
Curating is simply selecting the most interesting content from other sources and sharing whatever might interest your prospects and clients. Curating has come to the fore in the age of social media. It’s a low-cost and effective way of engaging with the public and showing that you’re in close touch with what’s happening in the industry.
The downsides: Curation doesn’t do much to differentiate your firm from others. Other planners can and do curate and share the same content. Chances are good that’s how you got it!
With curated content, you’re also constantly promoting other brands, rather than your own.
It’s also doesn’t generate SEO for your own site. For example, sharing a great Financial Times article on your Facebook page does nothing to elevate your ranking on the important search engines.
But all that aside, curation can be a great, cost-effective way to maintain top-of-mind awareness and serve your clients by getting them information that they need. But it’s best used in combination with high-quality original or exclusively-licensed content that is relevant to your specific niche.
Tip: Leverage social media, and include a brief personal comment on the article. Show why it’s relevant for your clients and prospects. Here’s more on how to build your practice and client base by curating content for your market.
Buy it in bulk.
A few years ago, we saw a proliferation of cheap “canned content” from article mills. It was cheap for a reason: It’s the least effective of all – and for professional financial planners, it’s often a waste of resources.
These kinds of articles and posts are often packaged as a “content library,” or as an email service that promises to provide your clients with a set number of emailed articles per month.
Typically, these are written by novice writers with little financial background or specialized knowledge. The information they contain is watered down and generalized, and has little relevance to educated professionals, business owners, affluent retirees and pre-retirees that make up the core of a financial planner’s target market.
Furthermore, these pieces are frequently used by dozens of other low-end competitors and other firms. They aren’t written with your marketing personas in mind. They’re written with nobody in mind!
Neville Medhora, a copywriter and marketing professional, ran a recent experiment on content mill results. His conclusion: They were worse than useless. His conclusion, in clinical terms:
These stats are horrifically bad!!!!
What’s even worse is the bounce rates are SKY HIGH (often 100%) meaning every single person who visits the page from a search engine immediately leaves, and the email signup rates are pretty much 0%!!! These stats suck suck suck!!!
His advice: “Stop spending time and money on it, and go back to creating few (yet higher quality) posts!”
We agree wholeheartedly.