Advisor Technology | 03/03/2017
When Content Marketing Is a Waste of Time and Money
Content marketing has two aspects:
Content is the bait and marketing is the hook. If you only bring one or the other on your fishing trip, you’re going to be severely disappointed with your results. You’re either going to waste a ton of money throwing worms into the water or you’re going to waste a ton of time sitting around waiting for nibbles that will never come.
All too often, we see advisors who are all content and no marketing. They’re throwing their worms into the pond and letting the fish eat, but they’re not reeling anyone in.
In order to successfully complete the content marketing cycle, you have to capture leads. That’s where the marketing piece comes into play. You need something you can offer your readers that is enticing enough for them to give you their email address (and maybe a little more).
Let’s dig into the finer details of both content and marketing and talk about how you can optimize each piece so you’re not wasting your resources.
That first piece – content – is essential to bringing people in. Content generally falls into one of two obvious categories:
Those categories might sound like marketing industry jargon to some people, so let’s unpack them a bit.
What Is Good Content?
Good question. I like to evaluate good content according to the three E’s:
This one kind of goes without saying, but you’d be surprised how many advisors don’t bother educating with their content. It’s sort of like serving a hamburger with no meat. It has the appearance of a burger, but it’s missing the core element.
A lot of advisors are scared of over-educating their prospects or revealing their secrets to competitors, but believe me when I say, that’s not something you need to be concerned about.
If another advisor steals your process or philosophy, that’s okay. You still do it better than them, right? If a prospect doesn’t hire you because they learned everything they need to know about investing from your articles, that prospect was never going to hire an advisor in the first place.
Imagine the educational aspect of your content as though you’re writing an employee training manual for your firm. Tell them how to do your job. Highlight the most interesting parts of your work. Point out areas where your firm does things differently.
Give them actionable information.
If education is the patty of your inbound marketing hamburger, engagement is the crispy, delicious bacon that brings them running. The bacon doesn’t make the meal healthier, it makes it more delicious and fun.
Engaging content is especially difficult in the financial world. Some of the most engaging content marketing comes in the form of testimonials – everyone loves reading about how a product or technique works out in real life – but those are out of the question for advisors.
The best tool advisors have to make their content engaging is illustrations – whether they’re written or drawn. Use metaphors, use comparisons, use simple drawings.
This is the piece that so many advisors forget to include. Basically, it’s the reason people should read your article on tax harvesting over anyone else’s. It’s that essential element that makes your content more enlightening than the rest.
It might be that you explain the concept more clearly than others, or it might be that you approach it from a different angle.
This factor overlaps with the Educational and Engaging aspects, and it’s a must-have.
What Is Bad Content?
When it comes to bad content, I think of it in terms of the three V’s:
- …Very Bad
Okay, I don’t have three V’s of bad content. Not everything comes in such neat, alliterative packages, you know?
But that first V is a real problem.
The primary factor I see in bad financial planning content is the tendency to be vague. Vague content is the difference between an article about tax loss harvesting that actually teaches you something and one that teaches you nothing.
Most advisors use vague descriptions in order to leave readers feeling so helpless that they have to contact them for help. The problem with this strategy is that it doesn’t work. I’ve seen comments on these articles where people say, “This article says nothing at all.” People see through this approach, so it should be avoided at all costs.
While it sounds silly, vinegar-y is a real problem in advisor blogs. It’s the blogs that haven’t been cleansed of that super academic feel and wind up sounding snoooty.
And yes, very bad could also be a level of bad content. It’s the blogs that are incoherent and have clearly not been reviewed or edited. It’s the equivalent of an un-edited letter to the editor. You don’t want to go this route.
The marketing part is about closing the deal. You gotta close the deal. Yes, it’s nice that you’re giving away free content, but that’s not gonna pay your bills. You need to get people’s information.
Blogging is great. I am a fan. Yeah, it’s kind of my job to be a fan, but it’s true – blogging attracts visitors.
Look at Michael Kitces. Look at Wade Pfau. Look at Carl Richards. They were all unheard of before they started blogging. I mean, they were still doing great things, but you didn’t know about those great things at all. Their current public persona and personal brand are a direct result of their blogging.
But in order to do content marketing right, you can’t stop at just blogging. You need a hook to capture your leads. That hook – generally known as a lead magnet – can take many forms:
- Fact sheet
Lead magnets come in probably hundreds of forms. My point is that you need a lead magnet to accompany your content if you’re interested in capturing leads.
So take some time to re-evaluate your content, and then re-evaluate your marketing and make sure that you’re doing both to the best of your abilities. Because if you’re not, you might just be wasting time and/or money.
Want to talk about how you can make the most of your firm’s content marketing? Drop us a line.
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