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Practice Management ;/


Content Marketing Strategies to Educate and Entertain by Kristin C. Harad, CFPÂŽ


ontent marketing is here to stay, and as one of the most powerful marketing strategies in today's online, fast-paced, information-driven world, it's a strategy you won't want to overlook. 18

Content marketing is the art and science of regularly sharing valuable information with your target audience that aligns with and reinforces your brand. It is communicating without selling, a give-and-you-shall receive approach to

Journal of Financial Planning | March 2013

generate interest, attract prospects, and build trust. It is a faith that sharing your knowledge cmd opinions will result in revenue-generating action from your audience and the eventual reward of loyal clients.

Marketing when you share content, you want to provide one or more of the following: Education: Teach a complex concept in an easy-to-digest manner. Financial planning provides endless content, ranging from more technical and practical issues to lifestyle and emotioned topics. Editorial: Present your perspective. With myriad philosophies and differing values iiround finances, sharing your opinion helps you stand out to people with whom your message will resonate. Make sure they know where you stand. Entertainment: A smile, a chuckle, the nodding head of "I know what you mean." Sometimes content serves simply to provide enjoyment. When people find your style enterteiining, they keep coming back for more. From blog posts, tweets, and seminars to radio shows, interviews, and videos, content comes in many forms. If you educate, editorialize, or entertain under your brand, you already aie a content marketer.

Yes, Content Marketing Actually Performs Sharing free content, especieJly content that educates, can feel like you're revealing your secrets. If you give away the how to's on retirement planning or the secrets to maximizing Social Security, do you render yourself obsolete? Of course not. Content marketing reinforces your expertise and accelerates trust-building with potential clients. The more often you share, the more frequently a prospect "sees" you. Soon you'll show up everywhere they are. And your clients will see you, too. They'll feel a sense of pride as you remind them of your value and provide an easy way to refer their like-minded friends. But you can't just post any old information. Content marketing requires quEility shiiring. Contribute without holding back; provide content that is so valuable a reader tells coworkers, approaches you after a seminar, and

opens your emails. Your content should be so valuable someone would be willing to pay for it.

What Makes Content Valuable? Converse with your target audience. Avoid overarching generalizations about financial planning when you speak or write. Know who you want to reach and tailor your content directly to that niche. Fducate on topics specific to their financial or life stage. Take a stance. Don't just state facts and differentiate the Roth IRA from a traditional IRA. Your reader or listener can find that information anywhere.


Bring it hack down. Deliver specific how to's. Mix big-picture concepts with tactical, practiced pieces. People appreciate theory, but they thank you for the what-to-do-next advice. Do this as a guest contributor and you become an essential guide in helping another's audience with next-action advice. Make it personal. Share your story. Counterintuitive as it may seem, when you are vulnerable, you actually reinforce your expert status. You are human, you've been there, and you've triumphed. Opening up about how you overcame adversity makes content undeniably valuable.

Diversify Your Approach

" I f you educate, editorialize, or entertain under your brand, you already are a content marketer."

Rather, share a new perspective or new use. When you disagree with the norm, speak up! You'll stand out and attract the media. Journalists want to talk with the exception, not the rule. Be creative. Know your brand personality and be consistent, but don't be afraid to go out on a limb. When you create content frequently, take a chance once in a while. Let go of that conservative mindset, "I must get this perfect before I launch." Elevate the conversation. What is your driving mission? What do you care about? Raise macro issues. Transcend the basics. Differentiate and connect on a higher level.

A diversified regimen can help overcome content marketing overwhelm. Yes, you want your content to have your voice, but even the best content marketers need a break. Mix up your routine with these tactics: Hire out. Provide a copywriter with topic ideas, examples of your style, and let him or her go. Then review and edit the article to make it yours. Or reverse that process. Hire an editor and provide your writing, letting the editor take it from facts to content, adding in a voice, or let a video editor turn a PowerPoint presentation into a compelling video clip. Partner up. For an instant article or video, interview people of interest to your audience. Invite guests to provide content for your newsletter, webinars, or blog. Identify a strategic partner with whom you can team up for educational seminars and other training opportunities. Use your voice. Mzmy advisers work best when they are explaining concepts or sharing opinions in conversation. • Record yourself and transcribe the file. • Host podcasts or record audio files that you distribute on your website. • Hold and record a teleseminar or

March 20B | Journal of Financial Planning




Idea Inspiration Part of the content marketing challenge is the seemingly unending need for topics. Block out non-negotiable times when you open yourself up to new inspirations and you will start to see content all around you. Try these methods to inspire your next idea:

For example, ask your target market how much they plan to spend on vacations this year, if it's more or less than last year, and how much anxiety they feel around saving—and ultimately—spending that money. Turn these answers into content on "How to Vacation Without Guilt,"

Leverage What You Know You meet with clients, you've spoken with prospects. You know what's on their minds.

Immerse Yourself in Tiieir Lives Experience the kinds of activities your target market enjoys. Dine in the kinds of restaurants they do, browse where they shop: observe and learn. Do in-home visits of existing clients or friends who fit your target profile and take notice. Peruse magazines your audience reads, explore the articles and notice the word choices and photos. Does this spark any ideas?

• List 10 anxieties that keep your target market up at night. • List 10 aspirations your target market dreams about. • List 10 titles for content you can generate from these fears and hopes. Stretch your mind and brainstorm these topics: • What technical topics can you cover from the financial planning process? • How does your approach serve their lifestyle? • What are the transitions your audience faces? What emotional issues emerge? • What organizational tips can you share? Create and Distribute a Survey No matter how large or small your client base, you can identify people who fit your target audience and ask them questions using Survey Monkey, Zoomerang, Facebook, or Linkedin polling. Keep the survey short and focused on a theme.

webinar. Provide the links through email and take another opportunity to transcribe your masterpiece.

Share Your Content Reserving content solely for your blog or website is like running in circles. You need to be where your audience is. Spread your message through multiple channels. Join groups. Online communities allow for open discussion, so consider participating in the Yahoo! Group for your child's school, or one of the many communities on Linkedin. Join conversations that are important to your target right now, especially the


Find Your Inner Artist How many times have you drawn out a concept in a client meeting? Take note and turn these doodles into an infographie or include them alongside a blog post. Be Ready Wiien Ideas Strike Once you avail yourself to content, the ideas abound. To keep track of your ideas, use popular apps such as Evernote (, or the "notes" or "stickies" apps common to most iPhones, iPads, or Android devices. Record a voice memo when you're inspired, or email yourself when an idea strikes.

non-financial ones. In every signature, include a link to a relevant "freemium," Find popular blogs. Ask your current clients which blogs they read or do a Google search. Search across lifestyle, professional, and various organizations' blogs. Offer to guest post, Bloggers are marketers of content, too; they need posts and want others' perspectives. Send samples. Send your content to hyper-targeted publications such as organizations' newsletters, neighborhood newspapers, or local niche magazines. Join the trade groups for your target market and propose a webinar or seminar. Your proactive efforts to share your

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knowledge, opinions, and values do pay off. Eventually, the phone rings and the emails arrive. You feel fulfilled when you ask your next prospect, "So, how did you hear about me?" Marketing today is sharing content. Yes, the time commitment can be grueling if you let it, but you can make content marketing enjoyable. Find the type of content you prefer and focus there first. Simply put: speak and write about your passions. I Kristin C. Harad, CFP®, is a marketing coach, helping financial advisers develop their content marketing strategies. She offers hours of free marketing training at


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