MIAMI — “I feel that all of our websites, all of our LinkedIn profiles, all of our digital presence is vanilla,” John retorted as he shook his head to reinforce his disapproval, then asking “Are we just wasting our time with all of us looking the same and saying the same thing?”
Without reviewing his digital footprint along with a cross-section of his colleagues, it’s impossible for me to know whether John’s frustration was legitimate. But our experience in helping advisors with their digital branding suggests that he had a legitimate gripe.
With this in mind, I explained to John that today’s affluent are avid users, even more so now because the majority of them are using smartphones, and that it’s critical that he take control of his online presence. Why? Because John, like every financial advisor, is his own brand. Not his firm, not the rank-and-file advisors working at his firm—it’s all about him. Period!
Sobering, I know. But the fact is that 95 percent will conduct a Google search on a prospective financial advisor. Approximately three-quarters claim that a financial advisor’s online presence has a significant impact on whether or not they engage his/her services. For John, this sounds like a big ouch.
There’s a solution, however, it requires time, attention to detail and creating content (or in John’s case customizing what his firm has pre-approved), and then judiciously make that content available through various social media channels. I know this is doable because we do this for advisors all the time.
So, what is content marketing? Let me start by telling you what it’s not. It’s not your “value proposition” or your wealth management process or the quality of your team members or your brochure or any of the never-ending traditional marketing vehicles. Consistent with the definition of the word “content,” content marketing is giving away useful information—for free. Think of it as educating the affluent community—but only so much.
Herein lies the key, giving away enough information so that it’s helpful, but not so much as the recipients don’t have a need for your expertise. Think in terms of catchy headlines on topics that concern today's affluent investors. Such as:
- 3 Tips for Handling a Market Correction
- 4 Common Mistakes Investors Make in Bull Markets
- 3 Questions You Must Answer When Creating a Financial Plan
- How to Know If You Should Have Your Financial Plan Reviewed
- How to Discover If Your Portfolio Has Hidden Fees
Our affluent research tells us investors are concerned about these timely topics, so you’ve got their attention. Then your content delivers three to five, no more than five, bullet points that provide a bit of useful information on each topic, which leaves them wanting more—wanting to hear from an expert—you! You get the idea.
The beauty of search engines is that you can optimize your digital presence by aligning your website, LinkedIn profile, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube—all the accounts you’re allowed to use, while positioning yourself as an expert by providing useful content through all the ones you’re using.
Today’s affluent are frustrated with online advertising as they perceive it as annoying. But they’re very open to highly tailored content that engages them, gets them thinking and curious for more. The majority of today’s affluent actively seek out “experts” for their medical, financial and most major purchases. They’re also much more likely to follow the “experts” they discover than any other brand, celebrity or cause.
Matt Oechsli is author of Building a Successful 21st Century Financial Practice: Attracting, Servicing & Retaining Affluent Clients. www.oechsli.com.