In our new digital information era, traditional marketing has been turned on it’s head. People have been empowered by mobile devices and the internet to find their own answers online. Traditional advertising has become less and less effective as a result, and it’s forcing us to think creatively about how we reach out to clients.
As an independent advisor this may seem like a force that benefits the biggest players in the industry as they move in to dominate these new spaces. When you look closer though, the truth might be quite the opposite. Consumers today are looking online for impartial and helpful experts who can help guide them, not large brands that will obviously tell them their products are the best.
That’s where we have an opportunity to turn this tide to our advantage. To become the wise advisor providing sage advice to our clients using a modern medium. The key to this new medium though, is not advertising, or owning the best digital real-estate. The key is content.
Thus, augmenting your marketing strategy to include an element of content marketing, could be your secret ingredient to flourishing in this new digital space.
What is Content Marketing
You’ve likely heard of Content Marketing, but what is it really? That can be a bit of a tricky question. According to the Content Marketing Institute, content marketing can be defined as follows.
Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience – and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.
That might still be a bit dense though. In terms of tactics, it’s a shift from trying to sell someone on a product, and rather trying to educate them about problems and their possible solutions. The theory and hope is that a more educated client will be a better client, and they’ll see the person or company who helped educate them as a trustworthy and valuable partner.
Sometimes we hear people asking if this new form of marketing actually works. Well, it probably makes sense to first dispel a myth engrained in that question, ‘this new form’. Content marketing isn’t actually all that new.
Where Did it All Start
You’ve likely all been exposed to many examples of content marketing whether you’ve realized it or not. Here’s an early example that illustrates it well. In 1889 France had less than 3,000 cars when the Michelin brothers started their tire company. They realized quickly that the best way to encourage more people to buy tires, was to encourage more people to drive. They decided to do this by creating a guide for road-trips letting people know where they could fill up on gas, good restaurants to eat at, and hotels to stay at. This guide still exists today, and the Michelin star rating is now one of the most coveted marks of excellence a restaurant can achieve.
Another example that is likely less familiar yet expresses the essence of Content Marketing perfectly is the Furrow Magazine. This is a magazine started by John Deere in 1895. The intention of the magazine was to help build better farmers. A more knowledgeable and skilled farmer will make more money and will be able to justify buying a premium John Deere tractor. The magazine was incredibly successful and by 1912, the magazine had over 4 million subscribers. It had the effect of not only building betters farmers, but also helped cement John Deere’s brand as THE premium tractor brand.
Today, these types of strategies are actually quite common and diverse in implementation. Blendtec made their blenders one of the most sought-after brands with their ‘Will it Blend’ YouTube videos. Hershey’s fills Pinterest with delicious imagery of sweet treats and recipes using their products. The question now, is what are you going to do to help build better clients and keep your business top of mind?
Building a Better Client
Michelin understood that when people better understood how to take advantage of a car, and use it to enjoy life, they would sell more tires. John Deere understood that a farmer who knew how to make the most of their land, and how to maintain it to create long term value would buy more tractors. So how do we apply the same ideas to the personal finance industry?
This kind of thinking asks that we take a more holistic approach to our service of clients than the traditional insurance salesperson. We’re not simply focusing on how insurance can help a client, we’re concerned with teaching our clients how to be effective stewards of their own finances. A client that understands how to build their net wealth will naturally have a greater need to protect that wealth, and thus be a more valuable client.
Take Sally, a recent engineering grad. She just got her first job, she’s single, and she’s renting an apartment. She has virtually no assets (other than herself) to protect, nor does she currently have savings to invest. But we’d be foolish to ignore her until she’s in a position to invest and has a need to buy life insurance. We should be connecting with Sally from day one, teaching her how to start saving, when and how to start investing, when and if it makes sense to buy vs. rent, and how to make the most of tax advantages she might have. These are the actions that both help build a valuable client in the future and lays the groundwork of a lifelong advisor-client relationship. You’re playing the long game and maximizing long term profits over short term gains.
Now that you understand the concept, and what we’re trying to achieve, how do we get started with content marketing?
For that, we’ll need to develop a strategy, including who our target audience is, what we’re trying to do for them, how we’re going to communicate with them, and how we keep ourselves top of mind so that when they go to make big life decisions, they remember to speak to us first.
In our upcoming articles, we’ll discuss how you can build your own content marketing strategy, how to get started using social media and email marketing, and even some tips on creating your own content.