Check out this cheat sheet for the must-have marketing materials you need to optimize your website, promote your expertise and build community, both online and off… without a blog!
by Wendi Webb, Content Strategist
Wouldn’t it be great if you got a marketing kit when you started in this business?
Some sort of glidepath that gave you all the materials you’d need to launch your business, build your rep and target some good prospects?
In some firms, you get a glidepath of sorts. You get a phone, the yellow pages and a very motivated branch manager. Yes, you’re cold calling, but you know it will work if you just make the dials.
Fortunately (for many), the digital age has ushered in a hot new marketing strategy that takes a lot less time and works when you don’t to pull prospects to your website and prime them for an eventual call or meeting with you.
It’s called “Content Marketing” and it’s a tailor-made strategy for advisors looking to connect with clients online through financial education and thought leadership.
Even if you absolutely love cold calling… be warned. We are all Content Marketers now.
Huh? What’s Content Marketing?
People don’t like to be sold, right? Traditional advertising and marketing sells people. Talks AT them. Treats them as buying units instead of friends.
Content Marketing is all about talking TO people… building relationships… defining touchpoints… promoting expertise and thought leadership instead of products and ads.
Officially, the definition of content marketing is “… a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience – and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.” (Content Marketing Institute)
Content Marketing means you publish marketing materials that purposefully warm up cold prospects for an eventual meeting. It’s an engagement strategy where:
- You don’t talk product… you talk pain points.
- You don’t cold call… you build relationships.
- You don’t advertise… you educate.
It’s a slam dunk, no-brainer marketing
strategy SOLUTION for the big, big problem financial advisors face…
No Show & Tell
We sell invisible products. We don’t have anything physical that clients can touch, throw or eat. We offer complicated advice that clients don’t understand. We promote skills and knowledge that can’t be verified.
Clients can’t feel an ETF. They can’t test drive a tax return. They can’t buy 100 shares of Boeing and take delivery on Monday.
Bottom line: You’ve got almost nothing to show… and too much to tell.
Unless… unless you’re a content marketer. Content Marketing gives you show-and-tell materials that bring some physicality to the relationship-building process. They give prospects something they can feel, review and learn from.
These are marketing materials, yes, but they educate as well as brand, and they physically represent your expertise. Offering something with educational value – especially when you’ve got nothing to demo – is a solid workaround that can build trust with skeptical investors.
Content Marketing isn’t hard, but it does require a basic set of 17 “assets” optimized for your website and your best prospects.
17 assets? Yes, that sounds like a lot, but you probably have some of these foundational materials already. All you need to do is optimize them for lead generation, roll them out and Bam! You have a Content Marketing System. For any materials you don’t have, they are fairly easy to create in-house or with the help of a good freelancer.
17 Content Marketing Assets Every Advisor Needs
- Professional Bio
- Sound Bite
- List of Services
- Investment Principles
- Investment Process
- Client Service Standards
- Sample Work Product
- Evergreen Content
- Lead Magnets
- Drip Series
- Note Cards
- e-Newsletter & Sign-Up Forms
- Client Feedback Survey
- Bonus! Blog, Vlog or Podcast (optional)
The Financial Advisor’s Content Marketing Toolkit
Think of yourself as a brand in the financial services space. You offer intangible products and services. Your ability to sell those products and services depends on the amount of trust you engender in your target market.
The key to building trust is to educate, not sell. And if you’re going to educate, you need credibility. People need to know who you are.
So, your first piece of Content Marketing explains “who” is doing all this educating, and there’s a very good chance you already have it in some form…
1. Professional Bio
The first thing to know about your Professional Bio is – it’s not about you.
Despite its name, your Bio is all about your readers. Think of yourself as the product. What are your features? Benefits? What context can you give to help prospects understand who you are, how you are qualified and why they should trust you.
Most likely, you already have a fairly good Bio. It could probably use a little more storytelling, a little less jargon and a few more emotional hooks, but it probably works OK for you… when you use it.
As a Content Marketer, you’re going to use it a lot more. Actually, you need to optimize your Bio so it captures more eyeballs and leads.
For starters, you need more than one Bio. Given today’s distribution demands, you likely need three to six versions of your starter Bio, all finessed for different media platforms and purposes.
Basically, here are the six Bio versions you need and where to use them:
- Long-form, formal: Welcome kits, print material, speaking presentations, official engagements
- Long-form, informal: Website, marketing brochure, brand materials
- Short-form, formal: Press releases, sponsorship info
- Short-form, informal: Social media, blogs
- Bio line: One- or two-line bio for social media, email signatures
- Team Bios: Brand materials, Welcome kits, website
Formal Bios should be written in third person as if someone is introducing you while more casual Bios can be written in first person as if you’re speaking directly to the reader.
Content in your Bio needs to weave a story that establishes your qualifications, highlights why you’re in business and makes an emotional connection with the reader. Your Bio should reveal the “why” behind your Investment Principles, your differentiators and your Client Service Standards.
Finally, the story of “you” should end with a compelling Call-to-Action that makes the reader an offer to learn more about you or your firm. Direct them to the next step in the client journey. If they like what they’re reading, they’ll click!
Professional Bios do a lot of heavy lifting. They need to boast without bragging, show without telling and reassure without overpromising.
Once you’re done with your Bio, you need to boil it down one more time and embellish it a bit to create your own personal…
2. Sound Bite
Advisor Marketing 101 recommends you develop your marketing messages with a Mission Statement… that leads to a Value Proposition… and is distributed to prospects via your Elevator Pitch.
All that is great to have. It gets you thinking about how you should position your business in the marketplace and against your competition.
However, folks don’t really want to hear your pitch, proposition or statement. All they really want is a quick nugget of information that is easy to understand and fun to share.
Give them a Sound Bite. Craft a punchy one-liner or verbal business card about you and your business. Make it is easy to remember, short and fun to repeat.
Sound Bites are a lot like taglines and advertising slogans, except they are more conversational, informal and entertaining. They’re the bumper stickers of marketing. Brief nuggets of info that hook into people’s memory banks to be instantly recalled.
There have been many, many memorable sound bites over the years. Some go way back:
- “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Franklin Delano Roosevelt, president.
- “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit!” Johnnie Cochran, attorney.
- “I float like a butterfly and sting like a bee.” Muhammed Ali, prizefighter.
- “I came. I saw. I conquered.” Julius Caesar.
To create a Sound Bite, use Mark Twain’s formula: “A minimum of sound to a maximum of sense.” Boil your Bio and elevator pitch down to its essential message in about 10 words or less. Start by identifying yourself as a financial advisor (or financial planner, wealth manager, etc.) and then immediately move into what you do and how you’re different.
Here are some examples of Sound Bites collected from various advisors:
- “We worry about your finances so you don’t have to.”
- “I help teachers protect their pay check in retirement.”
- “I find stories in the market – then invest in them and hedge them.”
- “Of the top 25 wealth managers in the country, I’m the only one located in Lexington.”
- “I keep Uncle Sam from cracking your nest egg.’
- “I specialize in serious money – the money you don’t tell your kids about. ”
- “I coach coaches on how to leave the field.”
- “I clean financial messes.”
In creating your Sound Bite, get creative. Play off imagery or clichés. Use colorful and concrete language, metaphors, comparisons, stories or a rhyme that people can remember and repeat. Showcase your personality.
Most importantly, go for the emotional hook. Go for the startling stat, vulnerability or anecdote that will spark a positive reaction and get people talking.
Jason Zweig, columnist for the Wall Street Journal, asked some leading investors for Sound Bites on their philosophy. Here’s what they came up with:
- “100% of business value depends on the future.” Bill Miller, former chief investment officer, Legg Mason Capital Management
- “Plan for the worst. Hope for the best.” Robert Rodriguez, managing partner, First Pacific Advisors
- “Do the math. Expect catastrophes. Whatever happens, stay the course.” William J. Bernstein, author.
- “In investing, it is not necessary to do extraordinary things to get extraordinary results.” Warren Buffet, investor
- “Be fearful when others are greedy and greedy only when others are fearful.” Warren Buffet, investor
Finally, the metric for judging the merits of your Sound Bite is whether it sparks a good reaction and continues the conversation. All of your marketing should work towards advancing the relationship to the next step. We want the surprised reaction. We want the giggle. We want the next question.
If your Sound Bite is good, you’ll grow your ‘hood.
See what I mean?
3. List of Services
You build a website advertising the fact that you are a financial advisor. Are you sure your market understands what “financial advising” means?
According to a 2016 survey by McAdam, a financial services firm, over 36% of Americans don’t have a strong understanding of what financial advisors do. That number rises to 46% for millennials.
One way to help people understand your business is to publish a list of everything you do for clients. Most prospects expect you to offer investing advice, but don’t realize you can provide other services as well. And clients will often forget.
A simple List of Services, specific to your target market, helps people understand what you do. It also helps them identify what they need you for.
In creating your List of Services, think about everything you offer. There are the big things, of course, like financial planning, investment management and retirement planning.
But there are also those additional services that clients forget about. Services like evaluating a career move, planning for college, refinancing assets, claiming Social Security or even buying a new car.
People like to know what they’re getting when they hire you. You go to a restaurant, you get a menu with the choices available. When you get a haircut, services are posted and priced.
If you want to build trust with clients and prospects, show them what you do.
Publish your List of Services on your website and include it in your Welcome Kits and any onboarding materials. Review your services with new clients during the onboarding process and in meetings. Send it to existing clients once a year to tease out new business.
One advisor reviews her list service-by-service in each client’s annual portfolio meeting. She picks up lots of new business at the beginning of each year from existing clients. Referrals, too.
A List of Services is very easy to make (Excel works fine!) and it’s an important step in appearing transparent and gaining the understanding you need to move the relationship forward.
4. Investment Principles
As a purveyor of intangible services, prospects want to know that you have some sort of decision-making framework for navigating the markets. They understand that the markets are wild and woolly, but they want to know that you do more than throw darts.
Warren Buffet has a set of investment principles. John Bogle’s principles changed the industry. You, too, have investment principles you follow. Time to share them.
Now, we’re not talking investment strategy here. Investment strategy is an outcome of your principles and your firm probably has plenty on asset allocation, income investing, indexing, etc.
What clients need from you is a trust-building set of principles that provides context for the hard decisions you two will make during market events. Your principles don’t have to get technical (unless you want them to), but it should outline the guidelines you use to manage their money.
Your Investment Principles are akin to the 12 Steps of AA. Your principles are broad stroke, big-picture ideas.
Harold Evensky, CFP and co-founder of a prestigious financial planning firm, outlines his nine core investing principles in his marketing content:
- A total-return approach that is indifferent as to whether cash flow comes from capital appreciation, dividends, income or other sources;
- Realistic (not conservative) assumptions in planning exercises and an acknowledgement that future returns from capital markets will be modest by historical standards;
- Goals-based planning – helping clients achieve a desired financial outcome instead of attempting to achieve certain investment results;
- Tax-efficient investment vehicles and optimizing asset location whenever appropriate; A belief in the weak form of the efficient-market hypothesis – specifically, that there is no benefit to market timing;
- A belief in factor-based investing based on the research of Fama and French, including overweighting portfolios toward value securities;
- An agnostic position in the active-passive debate and a willingness to use either approach for asset classes or sub-classes;
- A belief that asset allocation is the single most important determinant of investment performance and overall volatility;
- A written investment policy statement.
Your Investment Principles don’t have to be lengthy or even as technical as Evensky’s. In fact, shorter is better as long as the message gets across.
Sharing your Investment Principles gives your prospects and clients the “why” behind your business. They offer a safety net from which both you and your clients can navigate the markets, and they help you start conversations, set expectations and provide cover when markets tank.
5. Investment Process
Once you’ve explained the “why” behind your services, you need to explain “how” your Investment Principles will achieve their desired results. Prospects need to see how the sausage gets made, minus the nasty stuff like Sharp ratios and tracking errors.
Most advisors have a four to seven-step investment process that incorporates some form of discovery, analysis, implementation and monitoring. You’ve likely customized this process to fit your investment approach and market niche.
You know what your process is. Now you need to tell your prospects. They want to know that you’ve got a system. They want to know how you make decisions.
However, there’s just one problem here. Your process is boring. No matter what you do to it, no matter how unique, brilliant or thorough your approach is, it’s boring! It’s a process.
Instead, turn your process into a conversation opener by illustrating it visually. Financial advisors don’t have a lot of visual assets they can use to brand and sell their services. Your seven-step investment process represents a glorious opportunity to turn something numbing into something memorable. Pictures are worth 1,000 words because our brains process visuals 60,000 times faster than text.
People understand the information better, too, say researchers. People following directions with text and illustrations do 323% better than people following directions without illustrations (NeoMan).
Once you’re on the Internet, visuals become even more important. Social media with visuals enjoy a 94% increase in views versus text without visuals, according to a study by Skyward.
BuzzSumo, a content research firm, analyzed over one million articles and found articles with images every 100 words received double the social media mentions than articles with fewer images. Facebook posts with pictures drove 2.3 times more engagement than posts sans pics.
Creating a visual of your Investment Process doesn’t have to be difficult. You can do it yourself in Microsoft Word, PPT or Publisher using their SmartArt graphics, arrows and icons. Or you could do a rough sketch yourself and hire some design help from one of the online services like 99Designs, Fiverr or Upwork.
The key to creating an engaging graphic is to pare down the text to the minimum needed. Basically, you’re designing a workflow diagram, only more visually stimulating. Don’t be afraid to add color, icons and direction signals to show your process has a flow.
Keep your Investment Process graphic simple and conversational, and you’ll have a visual content asset that can work for you throughout your career. Best of all, your clients will understand what you do and be able to explain your process to referrals.
6. Client Service Standards
It’s a pretty safe bet that you’ve promised in all of your marketing that you offer “World-Class-Client-Service-Unlike-Any-Other-Advisor-Ever-in-the-Whole-Entire-Planet.”
Good. You should promise terrific service, but keep in mind that every advisor and brother-in-law promises the exact same thing. Prospects have heard it. Question is: How do you prove it?
When people are looking for quality assurance, hand them your Client Service Standards. This is a common technique in the legal and accounting fields, and your prospects probably expect it.
Your Client Service Standards don’t have to be granular. Broad strokes are better, focused on concerns clients may have and issues that could get you fired. Standards should cover expectations concerning timing of communications, office hours, availability off hours, integrity and ethics, work standards and flows.
While not absolutely necessary, you may also want to create a Client Service Matrix at the same time you draft your Standards. While your Standards outline the broad parameters of customer service, your Matrix gets specific on services offered according to levels of assets, engagement or participation (whatever your criteria are).
While your Service Matrix may take a little time to produce, it’s a good piece to accompany your Client Service Standards. A review of the services available at the different tiers encourages prospects to give you more assets in order to get more services.
It also helps with existing clients. Pull out your Matrix during an annual portfolio review and discuss what services your client might need. Once a client has been with you for a year or so, he’ll have a better idea of the services he wants along with the trust to send you more assets.
7. Sample Work Product
You know what prospects are shouting in their heads when they talk to you the first time?
“Show me the money! SHOW ME THE MONEY!!”
Like Jerry Macquire, you’ve got a problem. You don’t have any money to show them. You can’t promise 10% returns. You can’t trot out your track record or pitch past performance.
Intangible products again. No show-and-tell for you.
While you might try shouting back at your clients, what works even better is to give them some Sample Work Product.
Yeah, “Show me the work product,” doesn’t ring the same bells, but it does represent an outcome – something prospects can anticipate from you.
Showing Sample Work Product gives you some show-and-tell. It gives prospects something they can touch and review, think about and change. It’s a deliverable that takes your expertise from theoretical to concrete. It represents the work you will do on their behalf. It reassures clients that you do something.
Sample Work Product also gives you more confidence in the closing process. You’ll feel more comfortable asking for their business when you can offer them something in return. It represents a tangible achievement – a deliverable you can actually deliver.
Sample Work Product can be a generic financial plan, investment policy statement or a model allocation. However, it should be a very close representation of what the client can expect.
Of course, they may never fully understand the financial plan or the science behind their investment policy statement. Actually, there’s an excellent chance they will never look at any of your work product ever again… even when it’s about their own money.
But it is psychologically reassuring that they received something they can handle and file. Furthermore, it validates you as a serious professional with proven processes and outcomes. Sample Work Product is a simple credibility-builder because it makes the investment process real.
In the digital world, images and graphics count big time in attracting website traffic and leads. Your challenge is huge! You sell intangibles, yet you need a picture striking enough to grab traffic away from Kim Kardashian and the Rock.
Good luck with that. Unless you personally know Kim and can convince her to promote your evidence-based investment portfolio, you’ve got a problem. There hasn’t been a striking photo yet of a hot asset allocation model.
But you know what will work? It’s an insight straight from the Kardashian playbook. What attracts attention are photos of relatable people doing relatable things. Your prospects are interested in you. They want to see images of you doing what you do – and doing it with people who they can relate to (social proof).
You need images on your website. You need images on your social media. You need images of you. You need images of your team. You need serious headshots and casual group shots. You need photos of you and your staff advising, educating and socializing with clients. You need family shots, niche shots, even a few action shots.
One way to get a library of totally on-point, arresting images is to hire a photographer for one, fully-orchestrated day. Have them follow you around as you and your staff take meetings, advise clients and interact with one another.
In addition, think about some evergreen charts and graphics that could support your investment strategy and branding. Anywhere you can, add visuals to help make your services less intangible and more visible.
While you may never market your business on Instagram, you still need a good library of images, charts and graphics to include in your marketing and presentations. But most importantly, you need pictures of you that your prospects can relate to and that invite further interaction.
9. Evergreen Web Content
Calling yourself a financial advisor tells laypeople that you are an expert in handling money matters surrounding stocks, bonds, insurance, taxes and more.
Unfortunately, you don’t have too many ways to prove that expertise. You can’t talk about your track record, you can’t market your performance and you can’t promise anyone anything.
Which means – marketing wise – you got nothing. No products. No goods. Not even a promise of a positive outcome!
It’s a terrible, terrible marketing challenge that we can fix with a Content Marketing solution:
Package your expertise into “Evergreen Content” that offers valuable, in-depth and comprehensive information on a burning pain point your target market has. And optimize it for search engine marketing so other prospects with the same problem can find it and learn more about you.
Evergreen Content is big. Physically big because it offers subject matter expertise in an educational format. Evergreen Content is a how-to guide on retiring at 45. It’s a calculator that helps website visitors determine their breakeven point. It’s a case study of how to put a family of five through college.
Most Evergreen Content comes in one of these forms:
- How-to guides
- Educational articles
- White papers
- Case studies
- Listicles (Top 10 lists)
- Q&A interviews
- Timeless statistics
- Common mistakes
- Best practices
- Expert panel roundup
- Beginner’s Guides
- Buyer Guides
- New Client Questions
- Videos: Explainer or how-to
- Original research
- History of…
- Subject-matter FAQs
- Training and/or educational classes
The key to creating lead-generating content is to develop the material based on your target market’s pain points, your thought leadership and a few good keywords.
Suppose your prospect is searching for information on “how to retire next year.” You want Google to serve up your how-to guide on the “10 Steps Take Before You Retire” on the very first page, right?
While it’s not guaranteed, you will improve your chances of getting on that first page – maybe even in the top position – if you build your Evergreen Content on the same keywords or terms your prospects use when they search on Google. You want your Evergreen Content to answer the question the prospect is searching for.
Evergreen Content also helps you build links both internally within your website and externally to outside websites. Links are another factor Google uses to determine how high to rank your information. More links indicates to Google that you and your content are an authoritative source of information.
Evergreen Content also encourages people to stay on your website longer. Long “dwell” times tells Google that people like what they’re seeing; other prospects might be well served, too.
If you are already blogging or have articles on your website, review your incoming traffic to find the most popular piece of content you have. Consider turning it evergreen by optimizing for SEO, adding some links and elevating it to a sticky post or page.
It’s possible your firm may have some Evergreen Content you can use. Look for any tools or apps you could embed on your website. Tools are expensive to produce on your own and can run into all sorts of compliance problems, but clients love them. Check your firm’s marketing library. Maybe they have some digital calculators you can use? Screeners? Market updates?
How much Evergreen Content do you need? At least one marketing piece, but you could have several covering different aspects of your business.
For example, your main optimized piece of content could be “The 10 Steps You Need to Start Planning Your Retirement at 50” that you use to market to pre-retirees. You could then produce a second piece titled “How to Create a Retirement Paycheck” aimed at near-retirees.
Once you have your Evergreen Content up and optimized for search, it’s time to develop another long-form marketing asset that converts website traffic into qualified leads that you can count, cultivate and call. We call it your…
10. Lead Magnet
Your website serves as your marketing hub. You need to use it to build your brand, spread your message and attract new business.
Attracting business is a big challenge. What would motivate a prospect to come to your website and hang around long enough look at your Bio, review your Investment Principles and sign up for your newsletter or event?
Kick-ass content, that’s what! Scintillating content that offers website visitors answers to the problems their researching.
Like Evergreen Content, you might ask? Yep. Like Evergreen, but hotter – way hotter. Evergreen Content gets looky-loos to your site, but once at your site, we need to convert them into leads. We need to offer them something so irresistible they’re willing to share their name and email address, maybe even fill out a survey or attend an event.
Enter the Lead Magnet. A Lead Magnet is a freebie… a marketing premium you offer your website visitors in exchange for their contact information. It’s a “conversion” touchpoint that usually moves the visitor into the sales funnel to become a lead, maybe even a prospect.
The difference between Evergreen Content and Lead Magnets is the “gate.” Evergreen Content is public to all. Lead Magnets are only accessible to visitors who give you their names and addresses.
There are many kinds of Lead Magnets:
- Special reports
- White papers
- Case studies
- Advanced how-to guides
Pick a format that will appeal to your markets, that fits the topic and is easy to consume.
You may have some blog posts or articles on your site that already drive a lot of traffic. Turn them into Lead Magnets by locating them behind a gate and creating an opt-in form and landing page. You want to capture names and email addresses, at a minimum.
Your firm may have some material you could offer. Be careful it’s not too corporate. Prospects are looking for a human connection more than a brand.
You could also buy content from third-party providers, but usually the best route is to create Lead Magnets that are unique to you and your clients.
For example, you could host a workshop on “How to Retire at 45,” hire a videographer to film the event and then promote it on your website.
A good Lead Magnet or two will help turn your website into a 24/7 lead generating machine. Promote it on social media, sprinkle some ads throughout your website, build some landing and thank you pages and then set it loose!
However… it’s not automatic that someone who downloads your Lead Magnet will become a prospect. Yes, they’ve given you their contact information (which in digital-speak means you’ve converted them from a visitor into a lead), but usually they are not at the point where you can call them or set up a meeting without scaring them off.
To move them further down the tunnel and maybe even get them to call you, reach into your content marketing toolbox and pull out your…
11. Drip Series
Very rarely do prospects meet you and sign immediately unless it’s a very enthusiastic referral or you enjoy a reputation as the next Warren Buffet. One stat finds that only 2% of sales occur at the first meeting. (Marketing Donut)
What’s more, “63% of people requesting information on your company today will not purchase for at least three months, while 20% will take more than 12 months to buy.” (Marketing Donut)
Generally, closing a new client takes a couple of meetings to persuade them that you have the juice to manage their money. According to Dr. Brian Williams, sales consultant, 80% of sales requires five follow-ups after the first meeting. However, 44% of reps give up after just one follow-up.
Follow-up is critical. You need to stay top-of-mind during the prospect’s decision-making process. How do you pester them without becoming toxic?
Instead of pester, nurture prospects through a series of messages that offer value to the recipient, build on your talking points and drive engagement. Financial advisors have called these efforts “drips” for years, although the terminology in the digital age is “lead nurturing series.”
A drip is a chain of marketing messages that follows a pre-determined schedule and addresses relevant client behaviors or situations over a period of time. Generally, when we build a drip series, we’re mostly using emails, mail and phone calls.
Suppose you had a meeting with a referral who is interested in retirement planning but needed to go home and think about it. Pretty standard behavior.
A lazy marketer would send an email after the meeting and maybe call in a week.
A Content Marketer would send the initial email, call in a couple of days and then drip on the prospect with 4-5 emails for about eight weeks, followed by another call or two. All of these messages would be educational (yet persuasive), covering different aspects of retirement planning and different behavioral motivations (i.e., fear, greed, urgency).
The drips perform a triple function: They acquaint the prospect with all the issues he may not have thought about, they position you as subject matter expert who educates and shares, and they keep you top-of-mind during the decision-making process.
Advisors definitely need at least one drip series in their toolkit, but a killer content strategy would include several:
- Onboarding series: Strengthen new relationships by sending them a series of Investing 101-type emails that orient them to your philosophy and process
- Webinar/Workshop series: Here you need a chain of about 6-7 emails to generate appointments (best) or newsletter subscribers (next best)
- Lead Generation campaign: If you gate content and ask people for name and email, follow up with a series of messages to get them to return to your site and take the next step (sign up for newsletter, download something else, set appointment).
- Big Moments campaigns: You will always have clients celebrating a graduation or mourning a family member’s passing, and you often play an important role in those moments. Help clients understand the implications of the event with a series of messages that educates, informs, sympathizes and celebrates.
- LinkedIn campaigns: Connecting with prospects is good, but then you need to cultivate the relationship with a series of emails that leads to a meeting or phone call.
- Retargeting/remarketing: Retargeting lets you drip on people who have visited your website and even specific pages of your website. You set up the process through Google, Facebook or other remarketing services and as your prospects browse the web, you show them display ads to encourage them to return to your website or download your asset allocation study or something.
Drip campaigns can be a lot of work to develop, schedule and automate. However, you usually don’t need to create a lot of new material. Include in your series content like evergreen blog posts, case studies, tips, FAQs, announcements, reprints and more that relate to the issues facing your prospects.
In addition to your messaging, drips need to include some instructions to prospects telling them what action to take next… how to take the next step. In sales, we call these mini- or trial closes. In digital marketing, we call them…)
A Call-to-Action (CTA) is a digital instruction to your website visitor to do something: Subscribe, Sign Up, Set Appointment, etc. The idea here is to convert their interest into some kind of activity.
CTAs are like mini-closes that you sprinkle throughout your marketing copy to signal to the prospect what step to take next. They promise a benefit that the visitor will receive when he or she clicks on the button.
CTAs often look something like this, although they can take many forms:
CTAs are key to moving your prospects to the next step in their customer journey. Someone brand new to your website may not be ready to set an appointment, but they may be interested enough to download your white paper or take your retirement quiz.
To convert looky-loos into prospects, CTAs need to be compelling, visually stand out from the surrounding content, appeal to the viewer’s self-interest (What’s In It For Me) and create a sense of urgency.
Start Calls-to-Action with an action-oriented command. Verbs like “Download,” “Sign-up,” “Subscribe” and “Shop” are all strong commands that tell the viewer what to do next. Exclamation marks are also good to signal urgency and enthusiasm.
CTAs also need to visually stand out from the rest of the content so they’ll be noticed. That’s why they are often in boxes surrounded by color and set apart from the rest of the content.
Another important factor in CTA success is not to close too fast or for the wrong action. Remember where your prospect is in his customer journey.
That first-time visitor to your website reading your Evergreen Content will ignore a CTA instructing her to “Book Appointment Now” when she really just wants more information about you. She may click off, never to return because you forced her to make a big decision too fast.
You should have a library of CTAs you can customize for your various marketing efforts. They should be a natural extension or conclusion to the content your website visitors are consuming, as painless as possible to click and too irresistible to ignore.
13. Note cards
As the CFO to about 100 families, you need to cultivate and maintain strong personal relationships that keep clients happy and produce new business.
Sending out personal, handwritten notes is a great way to stay in front of clients and cultivate strong one-on-one relationships – even with prospects you barely know!
Notes are old school, but extremely effective. Whether you’re writing thank you notes, congratulating the newlyweds, remembering anniversaries or admiring a big fish, personal notes are a surprise & delight marketing tactic that can cement and advance your relationship with the recipient.
One part-time advisor turned writing notes into an ongoing marketing system. She would write at least five thank-you notes a day to everyone from the butcher to the mayor… whoever she came into contact with and did her any service.
Within a year, she was bringing in the same money as many of her full-time colleagues. After all, how many thank you notes does your favorite bank manager get? She’ll definitely remember yours!
Some advisors send Thanksgiving cards so their holiday message will beat the seasonal rush and enjoy a longer shelf life. Some send Valentine’s Cards to their single women clients. Some celebrate the anniversary of when the client first signed with the firm. Some send postcards with personal notes, tips, even travel updates.
Sending out snail-mailed, personal notes has propelled many to success. Dianne Sawyers, former TV anchor, was well-known for her personal notes. Barbara Walters was another scribbler. Douglas Conant, a former CEO credited with turning Campbell’s Soup around, wrote 10-20 thank you notes to his employees each day! George H.W. Bush and Mark Zuckerberg were also big note senders.
Sending authentic, handwritten personal notes isn’t the norm these days, but it’s a content marketing tactic that will make you memorable. Get some good greeting cards – blank, seasonal and special occasion – some stationery and set a routine for sending positive notes to people you want to work and connect with.
14. e-Newsletters & Sign-Up Forms
E-newsletters are the Swiss army knife of marketing. They help you communicate, drip, inform, educate, entertain, promote, invite and sell. They help clients talk about you and share your ideas. They help you get in your 12-18 client touches over the year. They educate your market on what you’re doing, how you’re doing it and why. They brand you, humanize you and give you credibility.
And if the content in your newsletter rings some bells, you’ll get phone calls, feedback, emails, workshop attendees, office appointments and even a few referrals. You might even recycle a couple of past clients who want to return to the fold.
Fortunately, in the digital age, a newsletter doesn’t necessarily mean an eight-page folded brochure with some grainy pictures that you send in the mail.
Today’s newsletters can take many forms. You could write about an individual topic each issue that is important to you and your clients. You could “curate” the content in your newsletter, selecting a number of articles from third party media sources that are relevant to your business. You could outsource your newsletter to a service. You could hire a freelancer.
Newsletters can take any format you want and you can talk about anything you want as long as it works for your clients and compliance. The key to a good newsletter is to be personal (yes, they want to see photos of you getting dunked), topical (what are you up to now?) and consistent.
Consistency is key. Once people sign up for your newsletter, they will expect it at the promised time, so you need to set a publishing schedule that works for you. If your goal is to stay-top-of-mind, you should consider publishing something at least once a month, bare minimum. Otherwise, choose a frequency that works for you and your target market.
What’s also golden about newsletters is their ability to grow your email list – the holy grail for today’s digital marketers.
Because when you publish a newsletter, you need subscribers. And what’s more natural than advertising for subscribers on your website where they are already reading your content?
Suppose they are reading your article on Retirement Planning 101. The natural CTA for the end of this post is: “Subscribe to our newsletter for more!” Now to get more retirement planning information from you, they’ll have to give you their name and email address in exchange for your expertise.
Bingo! You just generated a lead, maybe a prospect, and you’ve grown your email list and database.
Plus, to get people to sign up for your newsletter, you’ll need to offer Sign-Up Forms for visitors to fill out. Sign-Up Forms look good on your website. They give your Home Page some graphic relief and more of an interactive feel.
Reach out to website visitors, clients and prospects with a Newsletter and a Sign-Up Form. Newsletters are an integral part of your communications and prospecting marketing programs. They’re an educational outreach that grows your business.
Plus, what’s most important… your clients want to know what you’re doing with their money. A newsletter shows them how you roll.
15. Client Feedback Survey
If there is one absolute, never-to-be-broken principle of good marketing, it is:
That’s the one rule you can never break. It’s also the one rule, if followed, will lead you to your greatest marketing glories and achievements.
Knowing your clients – understanding how they think, what motivates them – is key to everything you do. You should have one piece of marketing content that helps you conduct primary research on your target markets and captures your clients’ satisfaction and expectations.
Once a year – at a minimum – send out a Client Feedback Survey.
Unless you talk in depth to your clients weekly, you can’t know what’s going on in their lives and in their heads. What are their current pain points? Whatever motivated them last year could be a deal-breaker this year.
And clients like to be asked for feedback. According to Julia Littlechild, data researcher and author of the book “Absolute Engagement,” approximately 70% of engaged clients want to share their opinion.
What’s more, asking clients for their feedback generates a “survey effect” that can produce more business and referrals. It turns out that clients who share their opinions on your business are more invested in seeing you succeed.
Researchers surveyed 945 financial services clients asking them how satisfied they were with various services like retirement planning, estate planning and account management.
They found that surveys had some surprisingly positive marketing results. Survey respondents were:
- 3x as likely to open new accounts with the firm
- 50% less likely to defect
- Gave more referrals
- Were more profitable
- 3-8 year spillover effect
Psychologists think answering surveys appeals to clients desire to be included, consulted and coddled. Surveys will reinforce their positive feelings about you and remind them of your value. It also helps them articulate why they like you by giving them language they can use to talk about you.
In many respects, a survey validates that you think enough of your clients to ask for their opinion. It makes them feel good to be included.
Best of all, for you personally, client surveys offer a number of benefits that will help you grow your business:
- Spot at-risk clients
- Identify cross-selling opportunities
- Develop new differentiators
- Improve client service
- Discover clients’ expectations
- Talk without pitching
- Identify language you can use in your marketing
- Discover what they think about you
One advisor, for example, lost a client that represented 10% of the firm’s business. No warning. The firm decided to survey the rest of its clients to spot other at-risk relationships. In just 90 days, they had signed six new clients and recovered 52% of their lost revenues.
The nice thing about client surveys is you can conduct them cheaply over the Internet, repeat annually, validate your world-class service differentiator and even generate some business.
They don’t have to be long. Ten questions, some multiple choice, some open-ended, is long enough. Actually, fewer clients will complete the survey if it looks long or too complicated.
Client surveys can be a valuable workhorse in your marketing toolbox. Data is power. Your database may be small, but it still can be mined. And the results can make or break your business. Political campaigns live and die on their internal polling data. Your campaign for new “voters” is no different.
Build your base of loyal clients by sending them a yearly survey asking for feedback. Your survey will remind them why like working with you and give you some priceless insights into your business.
Naturally, as a digital marketer, you want the golden ticket to the biggest prospecting platform in your area. You want VIP treatment to the network that includes almost every single prospect you will ever want to meet.
Welcome to Google! How do you rank?
Google is the most widely-used search engine in the U.S. with 89% market share as of Feb. 2019 and a 93% market share worldwide. (Statcounter.com)
Which means, you want to be well-positioned on Google so that anyone searching for your expertise will find you on the first page, top position of their search returns.
One way to earn that high ranking is with Keywords – words, phrases and terms that people type into the search bar to look for information on the web. You want to use the same words, phrases and terms on your website so Google will match you with the prospect looking for answers.
Suppose someone is researching “Miami financial advisors.” Google then searches for websites that offer similar Keywords, ranking them higher than websites that don’t. Google uses other factors as well to determine placement, but Keywords are the first step.
To rank your website as high as possible, target a select group of keywords that will attract organic traffic (i.e., website visitors that come from searches as opposed to paid advertising). Those chosen Keywords should be strategically inserted in different places throughout your website to get Google’s attention.
To determine the Keywords that would work best for you, ask yourself: “What information are clients looking for and how can I help them?” Keywords answer the question, “What do you want to be known for?”
Make a list of about five topics that are essential to your business. Pick topics that come up frequently in your client and prospect conversations. Questions you are commonly asked.
For each of the five topics chosen, brainstorm some phrases that would be relevant to each topic or questions that prospects might type in the search bar.
For example, if you specialize in retirement planning, some of the phrases that clients might search on include:
- Retirement plan
- Planning for retirement
- Side hustle
- Moving my 401k
- How do I get money out of my IRA?
Keywords can be both long and short, specific and broad. Generally, the shorter the keyword, the broader its scope and the more competition you’ll face from other websites targeting that same search term.
Short keywords are something like “stocks,” “bonds,” “retirement.” Target only those and you’ll be competing with companies like Fidelity, Vanguard and others who offer a ton of content to specifically capitalize on certain keywords. You’ll appear on page 2,374 of the Google search returns. Bad!
Longer keywords are generally more specific, less competitive and work well for local search and small firms. For example, “how do I get money out of my IRA” or “retirement advisor in Peoria” would be examples of long-tail keywords. Traffic you get from any of these should be better qualified since the search terms are so specific.
Once you settle on some keywords that represent your business, use them liberally in your content, headers, pages and site architecture to make your website more SEO-friendly.
How many do you need? Generally, experts recommend one primary and several related secondary keywords per each piece of important content. You’ll also want keywords for your Home, Services, Contact and About pages. Keywords should also be optimized in your meta tags, alt text and headers.
What’s good about developing a keyword list is it can help you develop content around a topic you know will bring in more traffic. Your Evergreen Content and Lead Magnet, for example, should be solidly based on traffic-generating Keywords.
While keywords are important to Google and other search engines, algorithms are getting smarter and Google is now more focused on whether your website delivers authoritative and accurate content. Content is by far the most important ranking factor in 2020. If you make your content good, you can’t help but use the keywords your market is searching on and your website will rank high as a result.
Time to go Hollywood. Especially these days as video eats the Internet.
First of all, know this: About 80% of all Internet traffic is video (Cisco). It’s the preferred content format for 72% of website visitors (Wyzowl), with over 59% of senior executives preferring to watch a video over reading text (Digital Information World) and 65% of those execs say they have visited a website after watching a related video (Forbes).
HNW investors are no different. More prefer video over other forms of content along with 42% of millennials and 34% of Gen X (Spectrem Research Group).
Marketing with videos boosts your response rates as well. Add a video to your emails and you’ll enjoy a 200-300% increase in your click-through rates. Use the word “video” in your subject line and your open rate increases by about 19%. (Renderforest)
Videos even help your SEO. One factor for getting your site ranked highly is how long people “dwell” on any of your website pages. Embed a video on one of your already high-performing pages, and you could see your visitors stick around three times longer (Wistia). Which means they are more likely to look at your other pages, sign-up for your newsletter or follow you on social media.
Bottom line: You need some videos. At least one, and more likely, several that serve different purposes depending on where they are located on your website and where your prospects are in the sales funnel.
First, you need a video on your Home page. This is valuable, top-of-funnel content aimed at getting visitors acquainted with you, your values and vision. It should be a short video, less than two minutes, that makes the case for “why” you’re in business and nudges the visitor towards the next step in the sales funnel. Your Home Page is prime real estate, so the production value should be high.
The next video to consider is one that tells your firm’s story. Take the viewer on a tour of your offices, introducing them to your services, team and mission. Share the story on why you got into the business. Strive for the emotional connection. It’s great content for your About Us or Contact pages.
Moving deeper into your website, you need content that keeps nudging the visitor towards the next step (i.e., signing up for a newsletter, attending an event, calling you!) Explainer or tutorial videos are ideal for these kinds of messages. They give you an opportunity to educate viewers on financial topics important to your business as well as showcase your expertise and style.
You’ll also want to consider publishing topical videos on the markets or current events. These videos are good for bringing visitors back to your site and seeing how you work over time.
One easy way to produce a video is to tape one of your events. Next time you host a workshop, seminar or public speaking event, get someone to film the whole event or at least a portion of your talk. You can then use the workshop video as a Lead Magnet or as Evergreen Content.
Then take some clips and promote them in your social media, driving people to your website to see the full event. Use the clips to interest people in attending your next event.
We’re talking a lot of videos here, aren’t we? But not all have to be top production quality. You definitely want to spend money on evergreen videos that will reside on your Home page or represent your firm.
However, for weekly market updates and some explainers, your in-house film crew should work just fine. Clients don’t need high production values for everything. Often, a video that looks more home-grown will feel more authentic to clients. They’ll get a glimpse of the you behind-the scenes, and make an emotional connection.
What’s also nice about video is that now you have something to publish on YouTube – another extremely popular marketing channel to optimize. You may not get a ton of your leads directly off of YouTube, but people will watch you there and it’s comforting to know you have content on all the highly-trafficked social platforms.
Bonus Asset: Blog – Not Essential, But Very Effective
This is one of the few content marketing discussions you’ll ever see that doesn’t demand you immediately start a blog.
Don’t get me wrong. Blogs are great. They are very effective for branding your website and engaging visitors. Most Content Marketers consider them a foundational element to their strategy.
However, blogging is time-intensive and not every advisor wants the responsibility or the commitment to write weekly, even monthly. Nor do all investors read them (but a lot do).
Happily, in financial services, a blog is not absolutely essential. You can accomplish a lot of what you need with a website, social media and an event schedule. For many advisors, that’s enough.
However, blogging can be an extremely powerful marketing tool for lead generation and thought leadership. You’ve got plenty to write about and you can always find a topic no matter your niche or target market.
If writing isn’t your thing, hire a good freelancer that knows how to market financial services to clients. You could get a blog written with just a weekly phone call.
Another alternative to consider, especially if you like public speaking, is to publish a video blog or a podcast. Both are extremely popular with clients and easier to produce than you might think. Your in-house camera guy and glam squad will work just fine.
So don’t think you have to have a blog. It’s not a mandatory requirement of Content Marketing although many, many consultants will insist you need one. Ignore them.
You can build a great business without a blog, but you’ll need to optimize your other Content Marketing assets to increase traffic, leads and engagement both online and off.
Prospects are looking for you. They want your expertise. They need your services.
Content Marketing helps you get found.