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How to Create Content That Connects

This post was originally written for and published in the Journal of Financial Planning Practice Management Blog.

Many financial planners struggle when it comes to content marketing. The frustrations are endless:

“I don’t have time.”

“I don’t know what topics to cover.”

“How do I know that these efforts are even working?”

Creating content can be time-consuming, but it’s absolutely worth the effort. In fact, studies have shown that content marketing costs 62 percent less than traditional marketing and generates approximately three times as many leads. With data like that, it’s impossible to ignore original content when putting together your financial planning practice’s marketing plan.

The problem that financial planners often face when trying their hand at content marketing is simple: they’re stuck in “creation” mode and don’t have a strategy to back it up. Spending hours on creating original content is meaningless unless you’re converting ideal clients. That’s why creating content that connects with your target market is critical—so, let’s go over how to do it.

Read the Room

When you start to build a content plan, you need to know who you’re creating for. Some financial planning topics are going to resonate with you, but they may fall flat with your audience. Taking the time to develop avatars, or case studies, to clearly define different members of your core audience is a good first step.

If you can group your existing clients and prospects into a few separate “niches” you’ll be able to better understand what they’re looking for in your content, and what other ideal clients will be looking for when they find you. Jot down a few aspects of each avatar, or client niche:

  • What are their pain points?
  • How can you help them?
  • What are their interests?
  • What financial milestones are they about to hit?

Still struggling? Put together a survey and send it out to existing clients. Asking them what type of content they want is always a good idea. They’re guaranteed to have opinions on what financial topics they want to learn more about, they’ll be comfortable opening up to you because they know you, and the content they want is likely the content that your prospects want, too.

Develop a Topic List

Once you’ve done your homework to better understand your client profiles and the types of content they’re looking for, it’s time for a brainstorm session. I typically recommend that financial planners keep all their ideas stored in one central location—a dedicated notebook, a list on your phone, or a document on your computer. This helps to ensure that if you ever run into a day when the creativity just isn’t flowing, you have a fallback list of ideas at the ready.

When you’re brainstorming topics, you’re trying to strike a balance between two things:

  1. What your audience wants to know.
  2. What you’re passionate about.

Start by listing the ideas that you’ve gathered from your existing clients, or that you think would be applicable to a future prospect. Then, go back through and highlight your favorites. Pick the ideas that get you fired up! Whether you’re writing a blog post, recording a podcast, or creating social media posts, you’re always going to be more engaging when you’re excited about the topic you’re discussing. If you run into something that you’re just not jazzed about, skip it. You can always circle back to it later when you’re feeling more inspired.

Know Yourself

The truth is, your audience wants to work with you. Humans crave connection with other humans. Engaging content that converts starts with you being true to yourself and forming authentic connections with your audience. If you find yourself straying away from your values as a financial planner, or from creating content that holds your interest, you’re doing it wrong.

Instead, infuse your content with your personality. Tell stories about your life that illustrate the points you’re trying to make. Steer clear of industry jargon and create content that matches your same conversational tone. If you tend to be more formal and focused on data, stay true to that. If you’re more of a jeans and t-shirt type of person, your content should reflect that.

The point is—don’t be someone you’re not. When you’re focused on authenticity in every piece of your content, you give your audience a platform to get to know you before they even schedule their first consultation. If the content you put out into the world doesn’t match your authentic self, it creates a feeling of dissonance when a prospect meets you for the first time. They showed up for the “you” that you’ve been portraying through your marketing, and they got something completely different.

Track Data and Adjust

It’s easy to let your content marketing game grow stagnant. We’re creatures of habit and sticking to a schedule comes naturally. Financial planners can avoid getting stuck in this rut by adding regular pulse-checks to their marketing strategy. A few KPIs you should look at are:

  • Where is your website traffic coming from?
  • What pieces of content are consistently performing best?
  • What types of social media posts have garnered the most attention?
  • What email broadcasts or campaigns have the highest open and click rates—what was different about them?

These questions will help you gain a deeper understanding of what topics your audience is truly connecting with, and the best way to continually serve them that content—on your website, through email marketing and on your social media channels. On the other side of the coin, if you’re finding that a topic you’ve posted about several times is getting a poor response, remove it from your list of ideas.

Content marketing is incredible because there are an infinite number of ways to do it successfully. As you refine your unique content marketing strategy, continually checking in to see if your content is still authentic to you while still being valuable to your audience will help you to always create content that connects with your ideal client.