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Dating back to mid 1900s, financial advisors have relied on cold calling to be the backbone of their business development strategies. However in May of this year, Merrill Lynch announced the end of cold calling for their advisors.
As sales numbers were down, 3,000 of their trainees were forced to hang up their phones and will be leaning heavily on LinkedIn as their main business development strategy. So, what does this mean for advisors who were already on social media?
For starters, the market’s about to get a lot more saturated, especially on LinkedIn. With more advisors and firms presumably following suit, it’ll be much more challenging to stand out and differentiate yourself from other advisors. On a deeper level, which we’ll dive into, the strategy and execution around content marketing will only become more and more important as time goes on for advisors who want to grow their business through social media.
For years, the financial industry has failed to recognize the power of social media and as we’ve seen, the industry is typically behind the times when it comes to advancement in practices.
For example, Brittany Castro, Founder and CFP at Financially Wise Inc, already won on social media over the past decade, and large firms like Merrill Lynch are just now giving it a shot. And that means the land grab for attention is over. The industry has entered the attention economy and putting out a monthly blog post or market commentary won’t cut it anymore.
So how do you stand out? How do you capture your ideal client’s attention? How do you grow your business through social media?
The answer is fairly simple: Through intentional & valuable content and marketing strategies.
But first, let’s make sure we have an understanding of what the attention economy is.
The attention economy is a shift from regular content consumption from the end consumer to an overload of digital content to the point where someone’s attention is now a commodity. The abundance of content and information out there is constantly competing for people’s attention.
So, if you’re trying to grow your business via social media, you’re not only competing against other advisors. You’re competing against ads from Apple, posts from their friends, stories from their favorite news accounts, and any other accounts they follow.
Think about how many marketing emails you received 10 or 20 years ago compared to today, or how many companies now have dedicated social media teams whose only job is to try and get people’s attention. There’s more competition now which means that you have to be thoughtful and intentional when posting content.
Take this article for example – where did you click on it from? Twitter? LinkedIn? The newsletter? Part of our content marketing strategy is placing valuable pieces of content where advisors live online and letting the content shed light on what we do, our marketing beliefs, and how advisors can market their practice better.
This post captured your attention and I’d be willing to bet that there are other tasks that should have your attention right now. Your target audience’s attention is fleeting as well, so how can you gather attention and do this same thing for your firm and ideal clients?
Before you begin implementing any content marketing strategies, there are a few key things that need to be addressed to increase the effectiveness.
First, you have to know your audience. Without knowing who you want to serve, it’s difficult to create content that they’ll find valuable.
There’s no one right way to do this, but an example of a niche may be a profession niche such as physicians or business owners, or a behavioral niche such as travelers. To see this in practice, check out Advisor I/O member, DeWitt Capital’s, website.
You must figure out the problems they face, their concerns, and what they want from a financial advisor. Then, you have to determine where this audience lives at online.
Going back to the example of this article, we’ve seen advisors are most active on LinkedIn and Twitter and not so much on Facebook and Instagram, so we focus our efforts where advisors are at. But for your situation, there may be Facebook Groups that are full of your target audience but without knowing who that target audience is, it’s much more difficult to locate them.
Second, you have to provide value to win with content marketing.
This may come in the form of:
The idea is that, by creating and distributing content around your niche, you can show your expertise and display the problems you solve. So, when someone does need an advisor, you and your firm may be top of mind because they’ve seen your content and heard your voice for the past year.
And with these pieces of content, it’s typically best to lead with education while adding in a little bit of entertainment. One of the best ways to do this is by mixing personal stories into your content. This makes the message you’re trying to get across more relatable and can strengthen the bond between your audience before you even have a chance to interact with them one-on-one.
Now that we know content is how you attract attention, how can you actually use it to grow your business?
For starters, there needs to be a content strategy in place. Each piece of content needs to be intentional and serve a purpose and this helps you define whether it should be a call-to-action piece of content, educational and informative, personal, or all the above.
Here’s an example of how a piece of content can work for you:
Now, most advisors start to get discouraged if they don’t see immediate results from content marketing. But it’s important to always keep in mind that content is a long game.
For example, you may not get immediate traction with that post about trusts, but over time it may start to rank in search results and then you have hundreds of people visiting your site and potentially downloading your free guide or joining a webinar.
This process of converting cold traffic into warm contacts is a crucial step in content marketing.
On social media, you’re playing on rented land. Meaning you don’t own their contact information and if the platform disappeared tomorrow, you would have no way to contact them. So, one of the main goals of content and social media marketing should be to convert people from rented land to owned land.
An easy example of this is getting someone’s email address. You can then contact them in the future and use your email sequence and drip marketing campaigns to remain top of mind and provide consistent value.
There’s no one specific way to do content marketing and there are unlimited styles of content you can create and ways you can convert attention. But there are frameworks that must be followed for it to be effective and strategies that work better than others.
So, with that said, I’m excited to announce the launch of Converting Attention, a collection of resources, guides, and strategies to help financial advisors understand social media and win in the digital era.
Social media and the digital era are here. Financial advisors have the opportunity to take advantage of it and grow their business in ways that weren’t previously possible. By creating valuable and resourceful content, being intentional with distribution, and getting your audience to owned land, you’ll be well on your way to growing your business through social media and content marketing.
Remember: Content marketing is a long game and shouldn’t be your only marketing strategy. However, when paired with other strategies, content and social media can be an effective way to build awareness and attract more ideal clients into your practice.