If financial advisors choose to invest the time and money to create an online presence, they better believe that people are going to place some value in it and except to see that carried through in their experience as the client. Content marketing works because people take to heart, or want to take to heart, what they read. The phrase "don't believe everything you read online" was coined specifically because of people's propensity to do so.
Your content is essentially your first opportunity to impress upon potential clients what you can do for them, and it must match their experience in the event that you eventually become their advisor. If done right, your content should be as close to a perfect representation of what your clients will eventually experience when sitting down to meet with you.
Therefore, the greatest mistake advisors make is not in failing to create marketing content, but in failing to create content that is consistent with how they ultimately interact with their clients. Often in their haste to get out marketing material that is representative of their services, financial advisors overlook these simple but important tenants in which their potential clients place an incredible amount of value:
Consistency of voice: Many people think of branding only as it relates to the visual design of a website or logo, but it's also about the language and tone with which you relate to your audience. I call this verbal branding. Your verbal branding must be clearly articulated in all your content, and must match the voice you use in your initial conversations with clients, as well as throughout the duration of your relationship. Your tone should be determined by similar logic. The argument behind using a conversational tone in your writing – in content such as blogs or newsletters—isn't just about making it more inviting. It works because it's genuinely representative of the experience your clients will have with you. On the other hand, if your style is strictly professional or “all business all the time” you'll want that tone to come across in your marketing instead.
Relevance: Your marketing must pertain to the situation of the client. If you devote a majority of your content to articulating how important financial planning is to your offering, chances are this is what clients will expect to receive. If then upon meeting them you immediately begin pushing products or insisting on a particular investment structure, you’re likely to alienate your client and fail to meet their need. This seems like a basic tenant, but it’s surprising how many advisors fail to follow-through on the element of service that brought the potential client through their door in the first place.
Differentiation: In an ideal partnership you meet your clients at a specific point of need. Oftentimes they see something in you that they haven't seen in other financial advisors. This unique value needs to be clearly articulated both in your marketing and in your face-to-face interactions. Perhaps it's that you serve a particular market segment, help clients through a specific stage or experience in life, or partner with clients in interesting ways to meet their financial goals. If these are elements you emphasize in your initial meetings with clients, make sure it comes through in your marketing and vice versa.
Simplicity: Ultimately your role as a financial advisor is to bring simplicity to something that is either too time-consuming or too complicated for your clients to tackle on their own. As a result, you need to provide as much clarity around what you do as possible. In your marketing material this means tackling all the elements above so that your message, style, and intention come through without complication. In your execution this means having incredibly well-defined process around your client acquisition, client engagement, and client onboarding, to the point that it appears seamless to those who experience it. You'll look worse for presenting a clear and organized front through your marketing, only to seem disorganized in the actual execution. Remember that clients and potential centers of influence place immense value on first impressions, so you'll do well to deliver on the simplicity of your marketing message in these initial interactions.
Remember that the clearer you are on who you work with, why you work with them, and what you can ultimately do for them, the clearer you’ll be on the processes that drive that and how you present it to the world. The questions below should help you begin thinking more about this correlation.
Coaching questions from this article:
Do you have a clear marketing message and if so is this something that comes up frequently in your interaction with clients and potential clients?
Are the processes that run your business a genuine representation of how you present yourself in the marketplace?
How often do you use or refer to your marketing material in your actual work with clients once you’ve partnered with them?