by Thomas Bosshard
Content that tries to sell often fails. Mostly, people quickly see through the ploy and bounce off to somewhere else. The internet is full of such ploys, and clicking away the umpteenth CTA box, auto-starting video or newsletter sign-up can be trying. Who wants roadblocks on a path to desired information?
Content that tries to sell establishes you as a vendor in people’s eyes. However, your content—and content marketing—should establish you as a partner rather than a vendor. A partner is someone that takes a real interest into who their clients are and what they are struggling with. The only way to bring this across is by delivering content that helps them overcome these struggles and thus is relevant and valuable to your target audiences. Eventually, they will reward this with their business or loyalty.
It takes a while to establish this trust. And once established, it’s easy to lose again. Therefore, the occasional article on a topic of relevance is usually not enough. You also need to consistently publish good-quality content that adds value.
But what is valuable and relevant content? This could be content that is of practical value, e.g. an answer to a question or a solution to a small problem, which may make people come back again with similar questions and bigger problems. Or it could be exclusive content, i.e. something they cannot find elsewhere, such as conclusions from data you have collected or your unique opinion on a subject matter. You could even offer content that entertains, which gives them a reason to like you more.
There is a lot of noise out there. And people would not hesitate to get away from your content away at the first reinforcement that it has no value to them. This “appraisal” process is quick. Your content should prevent them from bouncing off by giving them quick reinforcement that what you have to say adds value.
Education, a key part of the advisor’s role, can also help attract clients—as long as you do not wrap your pitch into it. Lots of people out there are seeking guidance on financial planning. You can put content out there that answers their questions.
Financial planning involves a lot of complex concepts that can be explained in a way that makes them easier to digest. This fosters trust and helps you gain authority. It also helps you attract people that are truly interested in what you have to offer, which is also called generating “qualified traffic” to your website offering.
How is this done? Most typically, by building a website that serves as an educational resource or by maintaining a branded blog. However, the content you publish should truly educate; it should be useful, enlightening, illustrating.
There are many advantages of sharing knowledge with clients and prospects. First, it can help manage a new client’s expectations. Then, it also demonstrates that you care about clients and want them to achieve their financial goals. It also helps clients become more appreciative of an advisor’s support and may even cause them to be less focused on performance or short-term returns.
Another example is creating and maintaining a branded blog. Blogs, at least those that provide quality content, rank high in search engines and help you generate that qualified traffic to a branded website. People looking for the answers you can provide will find you more easily among all the noise.
Stating the facts is boring. Someone’s individual take on the facts can be interesting, even if it differs from yours. You can always contextualize what you find. This is a nice alternative to self-promotion.
Finding and sharing valuable content with your audience is a courtesy in a world of information overload. Creating—or curating—value out of the noise, providing your audience with alternative views, interesting insights, valuable facts and figures or buzzing trends centered around your subject matter also helps you establish yourself as a thought leader, and nearly everyone enjoys learning new and interesting things.
Financial planning can be a rather boring subject matter, so making it more appealing to reluctant consumer groups may seem difficult. However, it depends on how the information is delivered. If the delivery is good, people can more easily relate to it.
Storytelling is the means of sharing information and experience, and also our main form of entertainment. A typical storyline usually involves a protagonist, a “likeable hero” that people can relate to. The protagonist then typically has to overcome many obstacles, but emerges transformed from the experience. This can be translated into a description of an easily relatable problem followed by a description of the impact the problem can have (e.g. on financial health) and how a solution can help overcome the problem. Real-life examples and case studies usually also involve real “protagonists” that overcome obstacles. Since they represent reality, they have high credibility.
If carefully chosen and appropriate, wrapping information into a narrative storyline can turn a dry subject into a tangible experience and generate a lot of interest. Considering consumers have an extremely emotional relationship to their finances, tapping into the power of storytelling seems like a no-brainer. And people like to be inspired. So if it is that straightforward, why do wealth managers hesitate?
Creating premium editorial content is like publishing. It is expensive and time-consuming. Thus, many companies are reluctant to ramp up their content production capabilities, e.g. by hiring a team of copywriters. Secondly, measuring the ROI from premium content is also difficult. So it will never be easy to justify the costs of regular content creation.
On the other hand, in order to be noticed by consumers for the right reasons, you have to stand out. And since more and more businesses are spending money on premium content in order to stand out and rank high in search engines, the race for the most valuable content – and consumers’ attention – is on. So it would certainly not be wise to be left behind.
Content marketing and content sharing can also be risky. Some think it is like giving away secrets or handing some advantage over to competitors. Others are afraid of not being consistent with brand personality or, even worse, not compliant with public disclosure regulations for listed companies. All of these considerations may prevent you from wanting to go out on a limb. So it may be a good idea to clarify in advance how far you can go out before investing in content creation.
In the end, it might be a simple trade-off. But the stakes are high and the competitive advantages of offering premium content are indisputable. Content that entertains, educates or inspires builds trust. It generates interest, attracts prospects, and this can lead to revenue-generating action.