There are two marketing “camps” that people often fall into:
- People who love authenticity.
- People who love strategy.
I hear from a lot of people on both sides of the line.
People who love authenticity believe that being vulnerable and honest in their content will draw in their ideal clients. They stick to story-telling, lots of quality content, and offering up “free” advice (read more about my opinion on that here). Their marketing plan typically is based on what feels right or passes a gut check. They avoid sales-y tactics, and the idea of building a funnel feels nervewracking.
People who love strategy tend to focus on research. They want to put every blog post or podcast title through a headline analyzer, every piece of content needs to plug into a larger funnel, and you’ll find carefully crafted call-to-actions all over their website and social media presence.
I used to have two feet firmly planted in the Authenticity Camp. When I started Perfectly Planned Content in 2016, I decided I wasn’t going to do the “sales thing.” I was convinced that my best bet was to just be myself, provide authentic content as often as humanly possible, and work hard with every client who showed up in my inbox. And here’s the thing – it worked…for a while. But at some point, I hit a wall.
More blog posts, more free advice, and more me wasn’t going to help me grow a scalable business.
I was blogging into the void, and hoping for the best. I didn’t have a plan.
Admittedly, this was incredibly ironic. I was, after all, a marketer! I was helping clients develop full-fledged marketing strategies, sales funnels from start to finish, and content to boot. But I hadn’t applied those same ideas to my own business because I was honestly a little bit nervous about what a strategy-based marketing plan would look like, and I wasn’t achieving my ultimate vision for my business as a result.
Today I want to pose a crazy theory – striking a balance between authenticity and strategy is the best possible path for any marketer (or business owner who has to wear the “marketing” hat). Let’s talk about why, and how you can combine these two concepts to find a happy medium.
If you’re already in the Authenticity Camp, you know that being yourself is where it’s at. To give you a few examples of authenticity at it’s best, I have (incredibly successful) clients who:
- Openly discuss their crazy sock collection on their website’s About page
- Incorporate a personal anecdote in every blog post
- Get in front of their camera phone (even on sick days) to post a daily video to social media
- Write about their own financial mistakes (yep – even as a financial planner!)
My crazy-sock-loving client even has had people tell him in prospect meetings that they specifically contacted him because of the sock comment on his About page! Being yourself gives your ideal clients permission to be themselves, as well. They’re more likely to reach out to you, like you, and ultimately to trust you as a new client. Without authenticity, financial planners often to struggle to “sell” their services. Why?
Because people don’t buy services – they buy experiences.
I am not the only marketer in the world. I’m not even the only marketer who works with financial planners – far from it!
But I’m consistently showing up as myself across my blog, website, and social media channels. People who reach out to me want to work with me – they could easily find services similar to mine elsewhere. They reach out because they share my values, my message and stories resonate with them, and they’re confident that I’ll “get” them when we start building their marketing strategy.
The same is true for you as a financial planner. Your clients choose to work with you because, well, you’re you! Out of the thousands of other financial planners in America, your clients have chosen you because they know you. They like who you are.
Still not sold?
If you’re feeling nervous about being authentic in your marketing, you’re not alone. Being vulnerable isn’t always fun. It’s not always posting cool pictures of yourself and your family on social media or telling a story about a time when you ended up saving the day. Being authentic is letting people in – for better or worse – and I promise that it pays off.
Having a Strategy
I mentioned before that I used to be a believer in marketing that only focused on authenticity – this is no longer the case.
I now believe that authenticity is key, but having a strategy that puts that authenticity to work is equally important. Business owners who build their marketing plans based on strategy are good at running the numbers.
Tracking KPIs and putting out call-to-actions comes naturally to them. This isn’t the case for everyone – it certainly wasn’t the case when I started out. Strategy feels dangerously close to “sales” – and for many business owners, “strategy” becomes a dirty word.
But building a strategy is the critical component to ensuring that all of the amazing prospects who find you and love your authentic content convert. Let’s get real for a second – everyone has bills to pay. We all need our marketing to achieve specific goals, and if it doesn’t, all of our efforts are useless. A few of these goals might be:
- Signing more clients
- Converting more site visitors to prospect calls
- Growing your email list
- Selling a specific one-time planning service to provide a pop of income
- Attracting higher paying planning clients (or clients in a different niche)
Your goals are unique to you – and your marketing strategy needs to be equally unique to achieve them.
A strategy takes every element of your content and works it toward your goals. It means asking for business in your email marketing. It means promoting the free download you spent hours on because you know it’s going to be valuable to everyone who reads it (and because you want those same readers to work with you someday). It means creating social media posts that work with the algorithms to gain more views. Strategy isn’t easy, but it’s how you “level up” your marketing.
Building Your Marketing Plan
To build your marketing plan, you need to find a balance between being authentic and having a strategy that serves your goals. To do this, I suggest following a few steps to create a plan that works for you:
Set Goals First, Then Work Backwards
What do you want your marketing to accomplish? Some business owners know that marketing is important, but they aren’t sure what they want. They know they want more of something – but what, exactly? Get specific with your goals in order to create a specific marketing plan to achieve them. A few ideas might be:
- You want to sign X number of clients by the end of the year
- You want to grow your email list to X number of people
- You want X percentage of your website visitors to sign up for a free consultation
Decide How Those Goals Can Be Achieved
Be realistic about the goals you’ve set – what’s the best way to achieve them? If you want to double your client base by the end of the year, blogging once a month and doing nothing else won’t get you there. Developing a strategy that focuses on where, when, and how you can show up for your ideal prospects is the way to go.
Where does your marketing strategy require content? This is where you get to have a little bit of fun and let your true, authentic self shine through. Your content should achieve several things:
- Provide the information that your ideal clients want
- Focus on topics that you’re passionate about
- Offer insight in a fresh, new way
Start jotting down ideas whenever they come to you. Then, take your list and expand on it. Is there a way you can repurpose one idea into multiple pieces of content? No one idea is good for just one blog or one social media post. Use them multiple times, across every platform!
Create a Funnel
Once you know what goals you’re working toward, and you know how much effort or what different pieces of content you’ll need to achieve those goals, you can start building a funnel. There are so many different types of funnels you can build, and they can be as simple or as complicated as you want them to be. One of the easiest to build is a simple lead magnet funnel. It might look like this:
- You develop a lead magnet that will address one of your future client’s financial pain points
- You build a landing page for the lead magnet
- You promote the landing page on social media, using paid ads, through blog posts, and in pop-ups (or other CTA areas) on your website
- You build an email marketing campaign to follow your lead magnet once someone requests to download it that moves your prospects to schedule a consultation call with you
That one piece of content (your lead magnet) is being repurposed here into an email campaign, a landing page, multiple blogs/social media posts/social media ads. Your funnel is leading people to schedule a consultation call with you and to eventually sign on as a client. But you’re still providing tons of value and letting your authentic self come through in each piece of content, and the combination of authenticity and strategy is what will ultimately get a prospect on the phone with you!
Let’s talk! Combining authenticity and strategy isn’t always easy. I’m here to help. Whether you’re trying to develop your first marketing funnel, don’t know where to begin with a marketing strategy that achieves your goals, or are stuck when it comes to brainstorming content topics that are true to you – we can tackle it together. Schedule your 60-minute marketing strategy session today!