This September, the Perfectly Planned Content team and I jet set across the country to attend the #DSSEA (Digital Summit Seattle) marketing conference. There were two packed-full days of incredible sessions, and I took countless “marketing nuggets” away to implement for our content marketing clients.
Today I want to walk you through the top takeaways I had about content marketing for financial advisors – starting with how to build a funnel that *actually* works for your firm. Ready? Let’s dive in.
#1: View Your Client Journey as Your Funnel
Throughout #DSSEA there was a lot of conversation about your marketing funnel. While many of the talks I attended echoed each other, one presenter, in particular, stood out. They said that the only funnel that really matters is your client journey, and your content should support it.
Most financial advisors already look at the journey a client takes from brand new cold lead, to prospect, to eventual client conversion. But not everyone has a funnel-focused approach to content creation!
Here’s what that could look like –
Top of the funnel – free content and brand awareness (think: blogs, podcasts, videos, social media)
Middle of the funnel – a lead “warms up” by making a commitment (subscribe to your blog, sign up for an ebook, attend a webinar)
Bottom of the funnel – conversion (you meet with a new prospect, have a follow-up meeting, and ultimately they sign on the dotted line to become a client)
This particular presentation focused on creating content for every step in your funnel – starting with the point of conversion. So, you may find that you need the following pieces of content for each step in your funnel –
Top of the funnel – Ongoing “pillar” blog content with supporting content pieces created based on specific keywords (see Point #5 for how to do this at scale!)
Middle of the funnel – An eBook or evergreen webinar that people can sign up to view using their email, ongoing monthly newsletters, and a nurture sequence that tells prospects a bit more about you and how they can schedule a meeting.
Bottom of the funnel – A seamless Calendly workflow that provides a “Why Work With Us” PDF, a link to your Google Business Profile for prospects to see reviews, and a sample financial plan.
#2: Mind Your Tone
Jon Youshaei also commented on the tone for content in marketing across industries, and this quote stuck out to me:
Your content is about your audience getting smarter – not proving how smart you are.
The truth is that the vast majority of America is at an 8th-grade reading level. In the words of Youshaei, we stalled out at Goosebumps. That’s not to say that your clients aren’t brilliant. They may be incredibly savvy, good at what they do, and absolutely killing it financially. Their level of intelligence, and even interest in financial planning as a subject matter, doesn’t necessarily mean that your audience wants to read an article full of college-level or jargon-y words.
Youshaei recommends using a tool like HemingwayApp.com to revise yourself ruthlessly. Content should be clear, confident, and concise.
You can still sound like the smartest financial advisor on a given topic without hiding behind a lofty writing tone. In fact, that’s our goal for all of our client content! We strive to create blog content that clearly communicates a concept that may feel complex or out-of-reach to the average investor.
#3: Don’t Shy Away From Inspiration
The #DSSEA keynote given by Jon Youshaei was focused on recession-proofing your marketing strategy. He had many excellent points and actionable takeaways. However, what really resonated with me was the fact that “recession proofing” your marketing is essentially looking at what’s worked historically and finding a way to remix and repackage content for the modern world.
His #1 example that acted as a through-line in his presentation was none other than Beyoncé. We looked at several clips of Beyoncé performing at concerts or music award shows and compared them side-by-side with other YouTube videos of other artists originally doing similar choreography, visual content, etc.
Youshaei’s point wasn’t at all that Beyoncé is unoriginal, or that she’s “plagiarizing” someone else’s content. Quite the opposite! Beyoncé is Queen B when it comes to giving credit where credit is due, and she firmly believes that a rising tide raises all ships. She’s brought small dance troupes from South Africa in to teach her choreography that she found on YouTube, then brought them on tour with her.
She uses her brand to take performances and art from across the world and throughout history, research and learn from it, then modernize it with her unique spin. And you know what? It works. She’s amazing, and it can be argued that her success in the music industry is unparalleled.
Now, when I speak with financial advisors there’s often a *big* concern about being original. They want content that nobody else in the profession is putting out there.
But here’s the thing – you can only say the same thing about Social Security so many times before it gets stale. There’s likely not a “Hot Take” when it comes to certain retirement or tax practices.
What financial advisors can do, especially heading into a potential recession, is ask themselves:
- What type of content have I produced historically that’s been successful?
- What are my competitors doing, and is it working for them?
- What content in the financial planning profession am I inspired by or interested in? What draws me to that?
- How can I research a certain type of content, or what a colleague is doing in their marketing, in a way that’s sustainable?
- What “spin” can I put on content that I like that better matches my brand?
- Can I elevate what I’m seeing others doing in the profession?
Youshaei went so far as to recommend blocking time on your calendar to look at your favorite social media profiles, Reddit, podcasts, etc. to collect content ideas to further research.
#4: Run a Competitive Analysis
These tools can help you to search for keywords that your competitors are ranking for, what keywords your business ranks for, and if there is any overlap or gap. This type of information can inform what keywords you should pursue, and what may be oversaturated in the marketplace.
#5: Think About Content Format At Scale
When you are creating content, there are several different formats worth considering:
- Blog posts
- Podcasts or audio recordings
- eBooks and white papers
- Social media
- Events or webinars
- Case studies
One key takeaway that I jotted down in a session about repurposing content to create a scalable content machine is that you can repurpose one long-form piece of content into multiple “supporting” content pieces relatively easily. This is something that we recommend to clients often.
For example, if your marketing team is writing long-form blog content that is optimized for Google and nails your brand’s tone while speaking to your ideal audience, that’s fantastic! You can take snippets of that blog to create:
- Social media graphics
- A framework for a powerpoint or presentation
- Several shorter videos covering key points of the post
- Record an audio version of reading the post
- Take key points from the post and build an infographic
- Break the post up into smaller email blasts to nurture your prospects
There are countless ways to “split up” long-form content, and it creates a scalable strategy. This game plan also helps you to create content “pillars” (i.e. key posts that focus on critical keywords for SEO) with supporting content that amplifies your efforts.
#6: Revisit Blog Length
With Google’s new Helpful Content algorithm shift, different lengths of content could perform well – if they answer actual questions people are searching for. Historically, I’ve always viewed blogging best practices as an across-the-board rule. The #DSSEA forced me to think outside of the box and view even blog content in different “buckets”. For example, you could have:
- Short FAQ blog posts that clearly answer questions you often hear from clients and prospects (500-750 words)
- Mid-length case study blog posts that walk prospects through what it’s like to work with your firm (750-1,000 words)
- Mid-length keyword-supporting blog posts that cover specific topics that require more elaboration than your average Social Security blog (1,000-2,000 words)
- Longer “pillar” blog posts that act as the foundation for your keyword and brand strategy (2,500-6,000 words+)
This mix of content type and length can keep your blog from getting stale. It also gives you room to determine what types of keywords and topics are most foundational to your business’s marketing success.
Financial Advisors Can Nail Their Content Marketing – Even In a Recession
It’s not a secret that we may be heading into a recession. Most financial advisors I speak with regularly have no reason to believe that it’ll be as damaging as ‘08. However, that’s not a reason not to be prepared! #DSSEA did a few things for me. First and foremost, it clarified that a lot of the steps that the Perfectly Planned Content team takes in our ongoing consulting and content creation process are right on the money.
We truly believe that a marketing strategy that’s rooted in what will serve your audience well is key, and we leverage keyword research and SEO to amplify that message for our clients – whatever it may be.
These tips are all relatively straightforward to implement and scale quickly to create an effective marketing strategy. And the best part is we’re rolling out more content talking about what we learned, and what our research has shown “works” for financial advisors when it comes to content marketing.
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