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In Marketing Today, No Matter The Question, The Answer Is Simple: More Content. 

Content, content, content, content.

It’s not like you haven’t heard this before. Likely you’ve been hearing it for a few years now from the FPA, from marketing companies, from industry magazines and people like me. And yet, most financial planners aren’t doing anything about it. They are parading around like nothing’s changed.

Everything has changed.

Think about how you watch TV. I bet when you kick your feet up after a long day at the office and you plop down on the couch, you’re not channel surfing. You’re opening up your DVR and watching your favorite shows that are ready and waiting for you to watch on demand. Or you open up Netflix and start the next hot series someone told you about.

While you watch TV you’re also on your phone catching up on Facebook or LinkedIn or Instagram for the day. You’re scrolling past photos from friends and silly Internet memes and videos. Something catches your attention and you’re now watching a video on your phone while also watching TV on the couch.

This is not unique.

It’s the norm. It’s our new trained behavior. And if you (put on your small business owner and marketing director hat) are not in the newsfeed of your prospects, you don’t exist.

And how exactly do you enter the newsfeed of your prospects and local market?

By creating and distributing more content. Especially if you aren’t creating any now.

This content is not you sharing links to news stories or articles either. It needs to be content you are creating that gets people to know you, like you and trust you. It’s content that puts a face to a name. It’s content where you are the one adding value, not passing that off to some journalist who wrote a financial article.

You need to be the one with whom people associate great commentary, advice and insights.

That means you on camera talking. You in photos. Your unique thoughts and opinions in a blog post, while playing nice with compliance, which is more than possible.

People don’t pay you to read them the news. They pay you for your insights.

That’s why simply sharing a link to an article from The New York Times will never work. Everyone can find and has access to that article. What they can’t find is your insight. Filming a two-minute snackable video that helps your local community do something or learn something or change something because of that article or piece of news or new law or new study is what will make you a financial leader in your field.

It Used to Be Easy

There were a few hit TV shows and you could run some local commercials during prime time to get in front of your community. Prime time today is what people are seeing on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube ‪from 5 p.m. to midnight. Your job today is to capitalize on that. Not to fight it. Not to ignore it. Not to shrug it off as a young person’s game. But to understand this is what we do. This is what consumes our attention. And that’s what you want—attention.

Eating My Own Cooking

This is the answer for me and my business too. Personally, I am creating a weekly TV show, “The Ambitious Life.” This show features me, talking to the camera for three to five minutes every week offering insights into how you can grow your business using video and content to live a more ambitious life. Then, every single day we share 60-second to two-minute video clips, which we call snackables, that are edited from speeches, interviews, episodes and anything else I have filmed to share on these platforms. There is also a highly produced reality show on Amazon Prime. There are daily images for Instagram. There are near daily emails and newsletters. Guest blog posts like the one you are reading right now. Monthly print newsletters that get sent via the mail. Facebook and Instagram Ads driving new prospects to check out all this content. Webinars. And so on and so on.

Content. Content is the answer. With more content you have more at bats. Not everything is a home run. Most financial planners treat marketing as if they need a home run at every at bat.

I just want an at bat. I just want an at bat for you. With enough at bats you’re going to get on base a lot and even hit a few out of the park. Stop thinking what you are doing now is enough. Especially when you know you can help someone with one of the most stressful pieces of his or her life—money.

It’s time to go all in. Content. Content. Content. Content.

Greg Rollett.jpg

Greg Rollett is an Emmy® Award Winning Producer and Founder of AmbitiousTV, an online TV network that gives a voice to small business owners. To learn more about working with Greg to create your own online TV show, or a video marketing strategy for your financial practice, visit http://ambitious.com/financialtv or send an email to greg@ambitious.com.

 


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Things You Shouldn’t Say to Grieving Clients

The unthinkable recently happened in my family.

My dad died.

We’re still living this nightmare that started when he got sick. Oftentimes, kind‐hearted well‐wishers unknowingly make it worse with the things they say, but my parents’ financial adviser is not one of those people.

I remember Mr. Vincent Rogers since I was a little girl. I was frightened of him for a long time simply because when my parents took out life insurance policies on us when I was 9, I was terrified to have blood drawn and I blamed Rogers for my fear.

Rogers was not just a financial adviser, he was also a friend to my dad, as he relayed to me when he paid his respects at my dad’s funeral.

“Do you remember me?” he asked.

“Of course,” I responded before thanking him for joining our family to celebrate our dad’s life.

“Your dad was my great friend,” he told me.

He relayed a story about how when he was a young newlywed, my dad made his wife (who was from Colombia and at the time spoke limited English) feel comfortable because he spoke in Spanish to her. Oftentimes, Rogers said, my dad and he had philosophical conversations about life and marriage. He told me that he will miss my dad—and I could tell he meant it.

There is one guarantee in this life and that is death. Given that fact, there is a very high chance that your clients are going to experience the loss of a loved one in the course of your working with them.

A time of loss is also a time of heightened sensitivity. Understandably, it’s stressful to approach a grieving person for fear of saying the wrong thing. Death in a family can cause your clients to cut out their own family members, and if you say something offensive to them, they just might cut you out too.

Clients might hold you to a higher standard when it comes to communication skills, and especially during a time of loss. Avoid being offensive by steering clear of the following phrases:

“I can’t even imagine.” Andrea Raynor, hospice chaplain, writes in her book The Alphabet of Grief: Words to Help in Times of Sorrow, that this is one of the more hurtful things to say to clients who are grieving. She said that this is like telling your client that their situation is so horrifying that you can’t even picture yourself going through it.

“I know how you feel.” None of us know how each other feels, really, and especially not during a time of loss. We’ve all lost someone, so if you are trying to say you know how they feel because you too have lost someone, then tell them the specific story while also clarifying that you understand that we all grieve and feel differently.

A friend, who’d also lost her father not too long ago, reached out and instead of saying, “I know how you feel,” she shared a specific story of how she has coped with losing her dad.

“It gets better when you realize he’s always with you,” she told me. This has been incredibly comforting, and I think of it every day.

“I’m so sorry.” Amy Florian told the Wall Street Journal that your clients will likely hear this phrase thousands of times and it will likely not have any impact by the time you say it. She’s right. This phrase could open the door to a negative situation, also, Florian noted, like the client responding with “Not half as sorry as I am.” Instead, she adds, share a memory of their loved one if you knew them, the way Rogers did with me.

“Everything happens for a reason.” This is another one best avoided, David Kessler, author and lecturer on death and dying, told the Wall Street Journal.

“When you’re in deep grief, you don’t care about any reasons,” he said in the article titled, “What Not to Say to a Grieving Client.”

He advises to simply let your client talk. Allow for extra time for your meeting with them with the expectation that they’ll need more time to tell their story.

These are the four phrases that have been triggers for me, and upon further research I found them on several lists of what not to say to clients who are grieving. Simply avoid these phrases altogether, opting for an authentic, heartfelt story of your clients’ loved one. You’re not going to make them feel better, but you could avoid making them feel worse.

One last bit of advice: check in on your clients. They’re probably not OK one month, two months, even a year after their loved one’s death. You reaching out just to see how they are will mean the world to them.

Ana TL Headshot_Cropped

Ana Trujillo Limón is associate editor of the Journal of Financial Planning and the editor of the FPA Practice Management Blog. Email her at alimon@onefpa.org. Follow her on Twitter at @AnaT_Edits.

 


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Fee Transparency: The Right Trend for Advisers and Their Clients

We teach our kids to do the “right” thing, although we know it isn’t always clear what that right thing is. The same is true in business. In our profession, for example, you could very easily name 20 or more current trends that are at varying stages of awareness and implementation. Which of those trends are right for your business and your clients? Of course, the answer depends on many factors. But one trend that seems obviously right (to me, anyway) is fee transparency.

What Do Clients Want?

Clients have been articulating a desire for fee transparency for decades. After all, isn’t it in their best interest? A recent InvestmentNews article titled, “Investors Want More Information About Financial Advisers’ Fees,” highlights just this issue. Specifically, it discusses the SEC investor roundtables that were held to explore the “so-called Form CRS … designed to give investors a summary of the differences between investment advisers and brokers in terms of their services, the standards of conduct they must meet and the way they charge fees.”

Much of the feedback and suggestions from roundtable participants centered around adviser fees. According to the article, investors want more specificity in this area. This included accounting of the actual dollars they pay; explanations in short, plain language rather than the dense text often found in multiple-page government documents; and access to an online cost calculator that would allow the investor to easily compare the fees of various financial professionals. So, what should advisers do with this information?

What Do Advisers Fear?

Let’s say that an adviser found a way to itemize every piece of the compensation puzzle. In today’s environment, that adviser would stick out like a sore thumb. Rather than being rewarded as an early adopter of fee transparency, he or she may find it hard to be the lone trendsetter and fear that clients would end up shopping around.

Impostor syndrome is a pattern of an individual doubting his or her accomplishments and the resulting fear that he or she will be exposed as a “fraud.” One might wonder if ambiguity of fees contributes to the syndrome or vice versa. Perhaps there is fear that clarity of fees would cause resistance among clients—especially in light of another trend toward fee compression and yet another trend of expanding the number of online ETFs and index funds available to clients. That fear may prevent some advisers from following the fee transparency trend—but should it?

The Rightness of Fee Transparency

The profession of today is designed so that fees and charges are tucked away here and there. Because many of these charges are not obvious, however, it gives some the impression that something is being hidden. Advisers know this perception is not grounded in truth but rather in the complexity of processing business. Nonetheless, you also know that client perception is important and that their trust is essential to the success of your business.

I think you will find that the rightness of the fee transparency trend is obvious if viewed through the lens of the clients’ needs. The bigger question? Whether our profession is up to the challenge of addressing it.

 

Joni Youngwirth_2014 for web

Joni Youngwirth is managing principal of practice management at Commonwealth Financial Network in Waltham, Mass.


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Understanding the Reconnection Strategy

One of the most puzzling things that can happen to a financial adviser happens during the first appointment when the adviser seems to be building rapport, then suddenly the conversation takes a turn and there’s an awkward disconnect.

James T., a veteran financial adviser client of mine with 10 years of experience, explained that he was recently in a meeting with a prospect who was in a high tax bracket and he had a large sum of money to invest but didn’t want to pay taxes on the money as it grew.

James felt that he knew just the right investment vehicle to recommend and said, “It sounds like to me you need a variable annuity.” Unfortunately, what James did not know is that the prospect had a disdain for annuities, didn’t fully understand them and felt that the internal fees were way too expensive. As a result, the prospect responded, “No I don’t.” After that it was quite apparent that he didn’t want to hear anything else that James had to say.

Understanding the Reconnection Strategy

Oftentimes, advisers can say something that may cause a prospect to disengage. When this happens, most advisers try and stress their point or find another way to reconnect. Unfortunately, neither are effective. I suggest to my clients to use what I call the Adviser Solution Reconnection Strategy.

The following is an example of the Reconnection Strategy:

1.) Disconnect: When an adviser asks a question or makes a statement that creates resistance in the prospect, it creates a disconnection in any rapport. The challenge is that it’s virtually impossible to know what any prospect may feel about a product or service.

Adviser: “One of the things that I do for my clients is to make sure they have the right life insurance coverage so that we minimize financial risk to the family should anything happen. Can you see why that is important?”

Prospect: “We don’t need more life insurance, we’ve got enough coverage to pay for the burial expenses.”

2.) Explain: When the adviser realizes that something has gone awry, it is important to explain why he/she asked the question or made the statement that they did in the first place so that the prospect can understand the adviser’s rationale.

Adviser: “The reason I ask that question is because burial expenses are sadly just the beginning of the expenses, not the end.”

3.) Story: Telling a story helps to take the pressure off the prospect seeming wrong or having to defend their position.

Adviser: “It reminds me of a client I had who said he just wanted enough to cover the cost of the burial. Unfortunately, that’s all he got and later that year he had a heart attack and passed away. After about a year his wife had to downsize because she couldn’t pay the mortgage on her own. They moved and the kids went to a new school.”

4.) Reconnect: Once the story is shared, it is vital to ask if the prospect can relate to the story.

Adviser: “Can you see how that affected the family?”

Prospect: “Yes, I see how that impacted them.”

Adviser: “How would it financially impact your wife and kids if something similar occurred?”

Prospect: “They would probably have to do the same thing. I guess we should consider taking a look at some more life insurance.”

Why the Reconnection Strategy Works

The reason why the Reconnection Strategy works is because it’s not about the adviser defending their position but rather about explaining the challenges others have faced in scenarios that may be commonplace. By helping the prospect realize that at some point down the road they too may have that same challenge, the reconnection is made as the prospect now understands the adviser has the expertise and knowledge of situations that take place that should be safeguarded ahead of time.

If this blog resonates with you and you would like to have a free consultation with me to see if professional coaching is a fit for you, email Melissa Denham, Advisor Solutions’ director of client servicing at melissa@advisorsolutionsinc.com.

 

Dan Finley
Daniel C. Finley is the president and co-founder of Advisor Solutions, a business consulting and coaching service dedicated to helping advisers build a better business.

 

 


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Helping Your Clients Embrace the Second Half of Life

Over the past few years, I have had the genuine pleasure of getting to know Richard Leider, the founder of Inventure – the Purpose Company, and one of America’s preeminent executive life coaches. I have had the opportunity to meet many different coaches throughout my career and life, and I can firmly say I have never met anyone quite like Richard.

He has spent his life understanding the value of purpose and its importance to leadership, and he has taken up the banner of helping others find their meaning and act upon it. The strength of his belief in his mission is palpable, and his objectives are not based on profits or revenues, but changing the world. In addition to wonderful mentorship and guidance, Richard has shared with me a wealth of materials that he and his colleagues have written on how to apply purpose in one’s daily life.

One of these articles, “Savoring Life through Servant Leadership,” introduced concepts that I believe could fundamentally change our collective view of the future, not just financially, but for our overall well-being. I am excited to be able to share a few of these ideas with you in the hope that they can serve as the foundation for changing the narrative when it comes to elderhood.

To me, the most powerful theme in the article was the idea that, instead of becoming “elderly,” which implies frailty and vulnerability, we simply, at some point in the future, enter the “second half” of our life. In this piece, I take a look at the ideas in “Savoring Life through Servant Leadership” in the context of how financial planners can help clients make their “second half” count.

Help Your Clients Become “Inventurers”

Richard coined the concept of an “inventurer,” meaning one who adventures inward through outdoor experiences, and has transformed his theory into reality by hosting “inventures” in Africa and other locales for those seeking purpose. The idea of an “inventurer” has many applications to those either approaching or in the second half of life.

To use the outdoors theme, perhaps those in the second half of life are still able to physically complete the climb to the Parthenon or to the highest vista in Machu Picchu in search of inspiration and meaning. Then again, those days may be behind them. That does not mean, however, that they are no longer the adventurer they once were. It’s simply a new type of adventure—one that includes finding out who they really are and living their second half of life with that wisdom in mind. In fact, it may be the greatest adventure of all, as challenges facing the soul and spirit are often far more taxing than those facing the physical body.

To be an “inventurer” means that you never stop exploring, regardless of the state of your body or where you happen to be physically at any point in time. Indian speaker and writer Jiddu Krishnamurti tells us that “the whole of life, from the moment you are born to the moment you die, is a process of learning.” “Inventuring” is a way to carry that torch during the second half of life. If we devote our second half to accruing knowledge about the world and, more importantly, about ourselves, we give ourselves the chance to grow whole, not just old.

Encourage Clients to be Open to Adaptation

In their seminal piece, Leider and co-author Larry Spears tell the story of a 95-year-old fisherman sitting by the window of his house on the coast of Maine quietly knitting nets for lobster traps for the active fisherman to use. The tale conjures a powerful, lasting image. The man in the story is still serving by doing what he can do best at his age, while not stepping completely away from something he loves. It’s an important distinction to separate vital aging, or remaining valuable as we grow old, from expecting that life as we age will be the same as it always has been.

We can’t control what happens to our bodies as we age, but we maintain control of our spirit and our will. Change and adaptability, then, are of vital importance. If we hold onto only what we once were, we can never truly embrace who we have become. Every one of us, regardless of our age, wants and needs for what we are doing at the moment, and our lives as a whole, to matter. Yet, in the U.S., as our elders age, they seem to lose their usefulness (in both our eyes and theirs), which causes deep psychological rifts, not to mention the loss of vital lessons, stories and experiences that could serve future generations.

Reconnecting value to our elders as a nation, then, is a critically important goal. It is also the definition of a two-way street: we must do a better job of changing perception surrounding the importance of our elders’ experience and wisdom, while the elders themselves must make a commitment to adapt to remain a vital part of the community as they age (as the fisherman in the story above has done).

In the Hadza culture, the elders of the tribe are afforded a seat close to the fire, while younger members of the tribe gather around to learn. Yet, a seat close to the fire is not a given simply based on tenure. As Leider and Spears write: “a person seated close to the flames is expected to have something valuable to bring forth.”

The discussion surrounding the “elders of our tribe” and the use of the literal placement around the fire as a representation of value reminds us of the raw power of oral tradition. Oral tradition has been one of the world’s most powerful means of communication since civilization’s earliest days, and is still the primary way the most important stories and legacies of a people, a tribe or a family unit are passed down to future generations in many cultures.

As oral tradition is based wholly on the experience and wisdom of our elders, rediscovering its value and execution as a society may be considered a critical issue. The revival of oral tradition in the U.S. has many applications, and can be one of the many ways we can help, through our own actions and through working with our clients, to redefine the value of those in the “second half” of life.

Help Your Clients Assume the Mantle of Teacher

In “Savoring Life through Servant Leadership,” Leider and Spears touch on one of the most common stereotypes surrounding our elders in the piece: “Elders teach by story and example. But it isn’t a simple recalling of stories about ‘the good life of the past.’” This is a powerful call-to-action for the generation of “new elders,” as it puts the onus on them to serve as teachers (not just storytellers).

Reminiscing about the “good times” is important, as it provides a perspective on the past for younger generations that they might not otherwise experience. The next step, however, is teaching based on life experience. Teaching requires the sharing of both the positives and negatives from the past, as lessons from failure or tragedy are often more powerful than those taken from success.

This focus on taking the good with the bad in sharing experiences may not just be a shift for the “new elders,” but also a larger cultural shift. Many organizations give into the temptation to share only the “good news” or the facts that support the company’s story, but the organizations who choose to show vulnerability by leading with weaknesses are often those that earn the highest levels of consumer trust. Thus, we see a lesson not only for our elders, but for our society as a whole.

Help Your Clients Recalibrate Their Alarms for Purpose

The alarm clock metaphor has been used liberally in the retirement space, as the first day of retirement may be the first in many years that your alarm does not wake you up. The metaphor, while attempting to show that the retiree can finally achieve some level of relaxation, also assumes that, on your first day after a long work career, you no longer have anything to wake up for. I believe, for most of us, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

As Leider and Spears write: “As a matter of fact, for many new elders, the alarm that might have dragged them out of bed for so many years has been permanently retired. Freed up from imposed schedules, some now find the freedom to make their own.” This is a vitally important point, in that, most of us cannot spend 40 years of creating the schedules and routines that give our lives structure, then suddenly descend into 30 to 40 more of unplanned “relaxation.” For many of us, a schedule will remain important in our second half of life, but because it can be one of our own choosing, we can imbue it with our purpose.

The freedom to pursue our passion, follow our dreams and, for the most ambitious of us, attempt to change the world, represents the ultimate purpose-driven call-to-action. Thus, helping your clients take the concept of “something to wake up for” past just throwing away the 9-to-5 alarm clock altogether may represent an important distinction. There’s still a reason to get up and make every day count in the second half of life, but it’s no longer an “alarm,” which conjures urgency, fear and apprehension. It’s instead an internal clarion call, driving us to seize the day with the power of purpose.

At its most basic level, the information above centers on the life-long search for meaning. The concept is simple, yet the execution can be incredibly difficult. The pitfall of mistaking “busyness for meaning” is a concept those either approaching or experiencing the second half of life must all understand. As Leider and Spears write, in the second half of life: “You quickly find out if you are comfortable in your own skin, or if the meaning of life is found in the busyness of your day.”

I believe it’s harder to get out of the “busy” mindset than we think. If you spend 30 or 40 years pursuing “busyness” in your life, then simply changing that mindset on your first day of retirement is likely akin to quitting smoking cold turkey. Make time for this conversation with your clients, as they may need your help in exploring these emotions and feelings at or near retirement.

As with so many things, we need to spend some of the first half of our lives preparing for how we will live in the second half; it’s foolish to think that we can simply turn on a dime when the time comes. I hope that this article and the stories that inspired it have given you a few ideas to help in your search for meaning, and that, if so, you will share it with others to assist in their search for purpose.

Dan_Martin_Headshot

Dan Martin is the Director of Marketing for the Financial Planning Association, the principal professional organization for CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM (CFP®) professionals, educators, financial services professionals and students who seek advancement in a growing, dynamic profession. You can follow Dan on Twitter at @DanW_Martin and on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/danmartinmarketing.


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4 Aspects of Quality Advice, from Fitness Trainers

Much of the same self-control and behavioral aspects are in play when it comes to both financial and physical health.

That’s why when reading the Fitness Journal, the publication for ACE-certified professionals, we find resources that could be helpful for CFP® professionals. One such article in the June issue was “Four Corners of Quality Coaching,” which offered information that translates to financial planning.

Knowing the information doesn’t mean clients will change. Just because a client has the information you want them to act on, it doesn’t mean they know what to do with it. For instance, personal trainers oftentimes have clients who do the workouts, but then eat sweet treats endlessly, leading to no improvement or even weight gain. You probably have clients who continue to put big expenses on credit cards, not save enough, or make bad money choices. They know better, they just don’t do better.

“Find ways to personalize it so that clients can successfully integrate new skills,” the article read. Translating this to financial advice, try to give clients examples of the concepts you’re presenting that relate to their lives. Make it personal.

Don’t lecture. Revisit a 10 Questions interview the Journal published in July 2016 with Eric Maddox, the interrogator who was the mastermind behind Saddam Hussein’s capture, who underscored the importance of listening and making your clients feel valued and heard.

The Fitness Journal article reiterated the point. “Clients often struggle with lecture-style instruction,” the article read. “Create teaching tools that allow clients to demonstrate acquisition of a skill or concept.”

Another element of this is using non-technical jargon to make clients feel more comfortable. Not all clients are as familiar with the financial vernacular that comes so naturally to planners, so be cognizant that this could be a barrier and make the information more accessible.

Listen to understand. Bradley T. Klontz, Psy.D., CFP®; and Ted Klontz, Ph.D., wrote in the November 2016 issue of the Journal that listening to understand, and not to respond, is critical to helping clients feel successful.

Seek clarification, ask for expansion, and seek confirmation that you are hearing and understanding correctly so clients have the opportunity to correct you if you’ve misunderstood something. Frame questions like a statement so that clients are less stressed.

“Research has shown that sentences that end in a question mark increase a client’s level of stress and can actually shut a client down,” Klontz and Klontz wrote.

Have clients take a financial inventory. The Fitness Journal article suggested having clients take stock of what life elements are causing their behavior. A similar exercise with your clients could be helpful to determine what could be causing detrimental habits. Brad Klontz has several resources at occamllc.net, including the Klontz Money Script Inventory, which could help you determine and understand your clients’ money beliefs to better guide them.

Ana TL Headshot_Cropped

Ana Trujillo Limón is associate editor of the Journal of Financial Planning and the editor of the FPA Practice Management Blog. Email her at alimon@onefpa.org. Follow her on Twitter at @AnaT_Edits.

 


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How to Create Content That Connects

Many financial planners struggle when it comes to content marketing. The frustrations are endless:

“I don’t have time.”

“I don’t know what topics to cover.”

“How do I know that these efforts are even working?”

Creating content can be time-consuming, but it’s absolutely worth the effort. In fact, studies have shown that content marketing costs 62 percent less than traditional marketing and generates approximately three times as many leads. With data like that, it’s impossible to ignore original content when putting together your financial planning practice’s marketing plan.

The problem that financial planners often face when trying their hand at content marketing is simple: they’re stuck in “creation” mode and don’t have a strategy to back it up. Spending hours on creating original content is meaningless unless you’re converting ideal clients. That’s why creating content that connects with your target market is critical—so, let’s go over how to do it.

Read the Room

When you start to build a content plan, you need to know who you’re creating for. Some financial planning topics are going to resonate with you, but they may fall flat with your audience. Taking the time to develop avatars, or case studies, to clearly define different members of your core audience is a good first step.

If you can group your existing clients and prospects into a few separate “niches” you’ll be able to better understand what they’re looking for in your content, and what other ideal clients will be looking for when they find you. Jot down a few aspects of each avatar, or client niche:

  • What are their pain points?
  • How can you help them?
  • What are their interests?
  • What financial milestones are they about to hit?

Still struggling? Put together a survey and send it out to existing clients. Asking them what type of content they want is always a good idea. They’re guaranteed to have opinions on what financial topics they want to learn more about, they’ll be comfortable opening up to you because they know you, and the content they want is likely the content that your prospects want, too.

Develop a Topic List

Once you’ve done your homework to better understand your client profiles and the types of content they’re looking for, it’s time for a brainstorm session. I typically recommend that financial planners keep all their ideas stored in one central location—a dedicated notebook, a list on your phone, or a document on your computer. This helps to ensure that if you ever run into a day when the creativity just isn’t flowing, you have a fallback list of ideas at the ready.

When you’re brainstorming topics, you’re trying to strike a balance between two things:

  1. What your audience wants to know.
  2. What you’re passionate about.

Start by listing the ideas that you’ve gathered from your existing clients, or that you think would be applicable to a future prospect. Then, go back through and highlight your favorites. Pick the ideas that get you fired up! Whether you’re writing a blog post, recording a podcast, or creating social media posts, you’re always going to be more engaging when you’re excited about the topic you’re discussing. If you run into something that you’re just not jazzed about, skip it. You can always circle back to it later when you’re feeling more inspired.

Know Yourself

The truth is, your audience wants to work with you. Humans crave connection with other humans. Engaging content that converts starts with you being true to yourself and forming authentic connections with your audience. If you find yourself straying away from your values as a financial planner, or from creating content that holds your interest, you’re doing it wrong.

Instead, infuse your content with your personality. Tell stories about your life that illustrate the points you’re trying to make. Steer clear of industry jargon and create content that matches your same conversational tone. If you tend to be more formal and focused on data, stay true to that. If you’re more of a jeans and t-shirt type of person, your content should reflect that.

The point is—don’t be someone you’re not. When you’re focused on authenticity in every piece of your content, you give your audience a platform to get to know you before they even schedule their first consultation. If the content you put out into the world doesn’t match your authentic self, it creates a feeling of dissonance when a prospect meets you for the first time. They showed up for the “you” that you’ve been portraying through your marketing, and they got something completely different.

Track Data and Adjust

It’s easy to let your content marketing game grow stagnant. We’re creatures of habit and sticking to a schedule comes naturally. Financial planners can avoid getting stuck in this rut by adding regular pulse-checks to their marketing strategy. A few KPIs you should look at are:

  • Where is your website traffic coming from?
  • What pieces of content are consistently performing best?
  • What types of social media posts have garnered the most attention?
  • What email broadcasts or campaigns have the highest open and click rates—what was different about them?

These questions will help you gain a deeper understanding of what topics your audience is truly connecting with, and the best way to continually serve them that content—on your website, through email marketing and on your social media channels. On the other side of the coin, if you’re finding that a topic you’ve posted about several times is getting a poor response, remove it from your list of ideas.

Content marketing is incredible because there are an infinite number of ways to do it successfully. As you refine your unique content marketing strategy, continually checking in to see if your content is still authentic to you while still being valuable to your audience will help you to always create content that connects with your ideal client.

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Zoë Meggert has built Perfectly Planned Content around financial planners because she firmly believes that they’re changing the world—one life at a time. Together with her clients, she and her team help develop and implement unique content marketing strategies that connect and convert.