Imagine sitting down at your desk and opening your email app.
More than 100 unread emails are sitting before you waiting to be opened. Some are from unsubscribed newsletters, some are from wholesalers, some are from marketing agencies looking to improve the SEO of your website, and some are from Nigerian princes with chests full of diamonds your long-forgotten uncle left you in his last will and testament before he passed away.
They say content is king, but with spammy emails like many of these, is that even true anymore?
Content for the sake of content is not strategy; it’s just annoying. In order for it to stand out, content has to be meaningful.
The best approach for building a relevant communication strategy is to think of content as a service. The best advisors understand why a specific communication needs to be sent, who it benefits, and what they expect people to do once those people receive it.
So, in order to be the king of the content strategy, it behooves us to start with why successful advisors spend so much time getting their content right in the first place. The best advisors think about how content serves clients and prospects: as an education, a notification, or socialization.
Communications further the story advisors want to tell their clients. Sending photos of a client event reminds clients about how much fun they had. Topical industry whitepapers demonstrate thought leadership and expertise.
But most advisors already know all of this.
The big questions I get asked by the advisors I coach are (1) how do I build a communication strategy, and (2) how much is too much?
Here are the answers.
There are five steps in building the best communication strategy possible:
1. Reactive vs. Proactive.
Think of all communications as either one of these two things: proactive or reactive. Reactive communications only happen when someone else initiates them. A client calls in, the advisor calls back. An email comes in, an email goes out. The markets take a dive, the advisor sends a “Don’t Panic” whitepaper. These communications are essential, but by no means are they the only communications advisors should be doing.
On the other hand, proactive communication don’t wait for something to happen first. These have a frequency and will go out anyway. Think about the weekly commentaries, the monthly letters, the monthly video scripts, the quarterly newsletters, the bi-annual phone calls, and the annual review reminders.
Wouldn’t it be a simpler world if everyone only preferred getting emails? The fact of the matter is people are different and how they chose to absorb their information is different. Advisors are often stuck not knowing how they should be reaching out and as a result tend to stick the easiest and cheapest methods. It’s no surprise they often have limited results.
The best communication strategies are built to be multichannel. That means the strategy incorporates a variety of communication channels (video, email, snail mail, calls, and social media) as the ways to send out content. The more channels clients are engaged with, the more surround sound the strategy becomes.
3. Social vs. Educational.
Every type of communication in existence falls into one of these two categories. Content is either social or educational. Sure, there is a gray area in the middle and some content can be dialed more to one side than to the other, but this is the spectrum people operate in.
The best communication strategies are built using both social content and educational content. From birthday cards to market commentaries, from weekly quotes and recipes to estate planning tips and tax planning, it’s the mix of content that keeps the whole strategy fresh.
What good is a robust communication plan if it’s not relevant to your book of business? An advisor who is building a client-centric social media campaign but doesn’t have a single client who owns a computer is not communicating effectively.
Similarly, if clients are always asking about the fluctuating state of the markets and the advisor never sends a market update, would it be fair to say a competing advisor who sends this information might appeal more to those clients?
5. The Communication Pyramid.
All of the rules above are great places to start, but where is all of this content going to come from? The good news is there is a rule for that too, and it’s something I like to call the Communication Pyramid. This concept has many different variations between industry leaders, but here my take on it:
At the base of the pyramid is the catered content. This content is part of the content libraries from marketing sources that advisors can white label (broker dealers, Platinum Strategies, Marketing Pro, FMG Suite). The best part about this content is it is easy, professional, and low cost. The downside is availability. When more advisors have their hands in a particular pot, the more widely used that content becomes. This content is a good base for advisors to pull content that needs to be communicated, but doesn’t need to be custom.
The best practice for catered content is to pull relevant communications with the best quality and scarcity and use this as a base to build from. Afterall, the more exclusive the content, the less likely someone else is using it. Avoid having catered content be the only communication type in your strategy.
Curated content is all about shared material. What are other industry leaders saying that corroborates the financial advisor’s message? What holiday recipes from celebrity chefs should clients try making for the holidays? This is content that is written and branded by someone else that advisors can use in a variety of ways. There are many apps that can consolidate many sources out there to the top few that are relevant to the advisor (apps like Flipbook, Apple News, and Feedly).
The best practice for curated content is to look for timely pieces and share them while the topic is trending. A lot of curated content often goes stale quickly.
By far the best content in the world for an advisor to use is custom content. This content exists nowhere else and can be written specifically to fit uniquely fit an advisor’s practice. This content is often done as ghostwritten copy for company brochures and websites as standalone pieces meant to stand the test of time. The best advisors don’t stop there. They put together their own blogs, podcasts, videos, and eBooks, and get this information out to the world. The big drawback with this content is the cost. Custom content is expensive whether the price is paid with hiring a ghostwriter or an on-staff writer. On top of that, custom content takes time to write which can take advisors and staff members away from doing what they do best.
The best practice here is to start with a monthly blog, video script, or announcement that is no more than 500 words in length. This is manageable to write quickly and more affordable if ghostwritten.
All of the above might seem like it is too much. The good news is clients would argue the opposite. One of the top reasons clients leave their advisors is advisors often do not reach out enough. Communications are essential components to any marketing strategy and keeping them going out regularly cannot be overstated enough. With a weekly commentary (52 contacts per year), a monthly letter (12 contacts), a quarterly newsletter (4), ongoing client events, calls, and meetings, a good amount of annual communications is about 76 each year. Every book of business is different, so be sure to dial this up or down based on your own clients’ preferences.
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We will discuss this and more at our Elevate conference in Orlando, Florida, in February 2019.
Visit www.PlatinumStrategies.com/Elevate-Conference today to sign up. See you there!
This blog is Part 4 of 6 in the Storytelling in Internetland series. CLICK HERE to start at the beginning.