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​How to turn your excuses into action

Blogs, videos, podcasts, and posts, oh my! The concept of content marketing—to educate, inspire, and entertain your target audience or existing clients in the places where they are engaging with content that you create, curate, or syndicate for the goal of increasing business—can be overwhelming.

Many advisers rationalize that a content strategy will not work and serve up myriad excuses to avoid this powerful and essential marketing.

Here’s how to quash five rationalizations and turn your excuses into action.

1. I don’t have enough time.

The lack-of-time excuse is an easy crutch to lean on. It paralyzes many advisers from advancing their practice.

Reframe the familiar excuse of “I don’t have enough time,” as the more accurate confession: “I don’t make enough time.”

When you run a business, one of your essential roles is to market your practice. Marketing has to be a top priority, not something you “fit in.” Decide now to champion the story your audience discovers about you through your content.

These three strategies can help you make time:

Focus. Commit to a home-base marketing channel—a blog, a podcast, or a YouTube channel. Pick one and run with it. Sharing content through that home base is the one marketing task you commit to complete each week. No matter how busy you are, you know this is a top priority. View everything else as a bonus.

Block. Block out time on your calendar and protect this sacred slot to ensure you complete your content. Schedule this session early in the week and at the start of your day to avoid disruption. If you are going on vacation, block double time the week prior and complete two posts, or block two days at the start of the month and develop all of the content at once.

Delegate. What duties prevent you from investing time in content marketing? List all the tasks you do in a week. Bundle together similar responsibilities and seek help. Consider a virtual or a part-time assistant to support you. Search listings at Upwork.com or run a Craigslist ad to find a candidate.

2. If I get too specific with my target audience, I will pigeonhole myself and lose out on clients.

With no specific target audience, you cannot know what kind of content to develop or where to distribute it. If you serve up generic content that attracts no viewers, it will not work (see No. 4).

People want to work with an expert. They want to hire someone they can get excited about, who appreciates and acknowledges their worries and dreams, and stands out among the masses.

As the first financial planner to focus solely on new and expectant parents, I developed audience-specific content for nearly a decade. Not only was I able to grow my practice quickly and attract valuable media attention with my tight target, I also had pre-retirees and young college graduates trying to sell me on becoming my client (“I’m not a new parent, but…”) Why? Because demonstrated expertise is appealing.

Here is some guidance on creating a tight target.

Find your first target, not your forever target. If the fear of locking into a specific market segment keeps you from this essential focus, know that you are selecting your first target audience. This is the audience you will proactively work to attract to your firm. It may be different from another adviser’s focus in your firm; and, if you’re solo, it may evolve into a different target after you gain experience or transition through life stages yourself. You are not beholden to this audience forever.

To make your content marketing work, however, you should commit for a minimum of 12 months to a single audience. You can master the key issues, take content deeper than other advisers, and reinforce more quickly how much value you offer for an explicit segment. The momentum that results will distinguish you in the field and captivate a wider array of possibilities because of your command of one group’s issues. Definitive selection of your audience will also accelerate client referrals of similar people and keep the flywheel turning.

You are not trapped by targeting. Under this targeting strategy you are “allowed” to work with prospects outside of your selected segment. Ultimately, as the leader of your business, you get to decide who your clients are.

No matter how narrow you focus your marketing, you can choose to work with whomever you want. However, you may quickly realize that each time you work with someone outside of your target audience, you devote resources to learn new issues, develop new templates, or work out ways to service these clients that may not fit your regular routine. You may also dilute the type of client referrals you receive. This scattered outcome often reinforces the value of the focused approach.

3. If I give away too much information, no one will hire me.

“Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?” my late father was fond of warning me. This advice about holding back may have mattered before the Internet.

Now, with heaps of information accessible online, your job is to create, curate, and share information. The more you give away, the more likely you will attract your very best clients. You want people willing to hire experts, not the do-it-yourselfers. Build trust and relationships over time through frequent and consistent content sharing; you’ll be top of mind when the life event triggers action from your audience.

4. I’ve tried content marketing and it doesn’t work.

Content marketing usually fails for two reasons: lack of patience and poor quality. Most advisers stop sharing content before their audience could get to know them, and what they do share falls flat in delivering value.

Look at the content you have shared over the last six months and evaluate these two elements:

Frequency. How many times did you publish or share content? Content marketing requires sharing consistently over time. If you have not shared relevant content through your or a partner’s digital platform two or three times per month at a minimum, you cannot expect this marketing strategy to work for you. People need to see you repeatedly—the marketing rule of seven says that is an average of seven times—before they take action.

Quality. Are you delivering generic messages to appeal to as many people as possible, or regurgitating facts that fail to offer perspective? You will not gain lift or engagement in your practice from using substandard content.

Devise a content strategy where you outline the needs and aspirations of your narrow audience and create or curate content that moves them closer to their goals. Demonstrate through 140-character tweets, two-minute videos, or 400-word blog posts that you care. Provide commentary on articles or videos and select high-quality content to share. If you set standards for content types that fit your audience, you can engage others to help implement.

5. I don’t have to do content marketing; I get all of my leads from referrals.

Referrals generate some of the best new clients. But waiting for the phone to ring or an email to arrive is reactive. So ask yourself, “How am I being proactive? Where do I go out in the world and demonstrate I understand my customers’ mindset?” Find the spots where your clients are and contribute.

If generating referrals is your primary marketing strategy, you are not in the clear from content marketing. The people your clients refer will Google you, check LinkedIn, and seek out information about you before you meet. Make sure the content they find tells the story you want them to read.

You will soon realize that consistently creating and sharing content that is inspirational, educational, or entertaining fires up your creativity. Be open to welcome the new ideas and possibilities that await you. 

Kristin C. Harad, CFP®, helps independent financial advisers create marketing systems to prioritize efforts, ease stress, and achieve their full potential. She champions entrepreneurship through training offered at kristinharad.com and implement-now.com. Learn more about content marketing in her complimentary webinar at www.kristinharad.com/AttractWebinar.

Sidebar:

How to Start Sharing Content with Your Target Audience

If you do not give away content in exchange for contact information, you miss out on initiating a relationship with the majority of your website visitors.

Two must-have ways on your website to start the conversation (without pushing the consult) are:

“Direct to inbox” requests for your blog, podcast, or video channel. This low-hurdle option invites visitors to receive notifications of the latest content by sharing their email address. You then have permission to push out the content rather than waiting to pull them in again.

Free download. Deliver a how-to guide or a checklist that visitors can download in exchange for their name and email address. To be successful, this content must be hyper-targeted (for example, “How to Save for Retirement When You Are a Sole Proprietor and Don’t Have an Exit Plan,” or “10 Steps to Lower the Costs of Your Next Family Vacation and Still Enjoy the Trip”). The download opens up a one-on-one dialogue where you can continue to share valuable information and stay top of mind.

—K.H.

 

Learn More:

Connect with Marketing Experts at the FPA Annual Conference
The FPA Annual Conference—BE Baltimore, Sept. 14–16, will feature a Business Consulting Lounge where attendees will receive one-on-one time with noted experts who will provide practical advice and strategies across a variety of practice management areas, including marketing, cybersecurity, social media, and public relations.

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