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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.


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Your Marketing is Not Setting You Apart; It’s Making You Blend In

“Differentiation,” the action or process of differentiating, is a term that gets thrown around ad nauseam in business and marketing. It’s used so often that I worry we’ve begun to file it away as yet another buzz word that people say to sound smart, but that has little meaning.

I fervently hope that this is not the case, as I believe differentiation lies at the very heart of what separates successful marketing from mediocrity. That may sound harsh, but in an environment in which we are all exposed to an unprecedented volume of advertising and promotional content, it’s more difficult than ever to stand out.

It’s one of the most frustrating things about marketing today, especially for small business owners. You have something important to say, and something even more important to give to your clients, but you can’t get a word in edgewise. You can and should be perturbed! But you also can’t just give up on marketing for the very same reasons—you provide a critical service and are committed to doing the right thing and people should know about it.

So what do you do? To begin, let’s set aside the term differentiation—it’s too industrial and jargonized for our purposes. What it really means is finding answers to the question of “Why you?” Why should your prospective clients choose to work with you, instead of: a) investing on their own; b) getting free portfolio support from their 401(k) provider; or c) working with another planner?

Writing out your answers to this question will help you realize that a good portion of how you’re currently representing yourself and your business on your website, in your marketing materials and on social media isn’t helping you stand out—it’s actually making you blend in. The most common example of this in the profession is the ubiquitous list of “services provided” on nearly every financial planner’s website.

Yes, it’s important for current and prospective clients to understand what you do, but if it’s not far less prominent than who you really are or why you do what you do, you’re not only doing your business a disservice, you’re also benefiting your competitors. Stop showing people why you’re the same and start focusing on why you’re different!

There is a bit of an art to this, and it does take courage, but I believe every financial planner can at least take the following steps necessary to reveal their true selves to the world.

1.) Take a Stand. Doug Kessler, one of my favorite marketers, gave a presentation at Content Marketing World in 2015 that has really stuck with me. The title was, “How to Practice Insane Honesty in Your Marketing,” and the premise was that volunteering weaknesses in your products and services can actually bring in more customers than focusing only on the positives.

For most financial planners, going all in on that type of strategy would be an incredible leap. Starting with one small component of the concept, however, is inherently doable. For example, one of the pros Doug shared about “insane honesty” is that it alienates less likely customers or clients. Traditional marketing tenets state that we should never alienate anyone, and that our job is to make everyone feel good about our products and services.

I’m with Doug on this one, though—you can certainly attempt to position yourself and your business as being all things to all people, but that tends to backfire. In reality, you often end up casting such a wide net and staying so close to the middle of the road that you start to blend in with everyone else. In his presentation, he used the example of Hans Brinker Hotel in Amsterdam which, without waiting for the media or consumers to do it, went ahead and labeled itself as the “Worst Hotel in the World.”

As an extreme budget motel with small, dingy rooms and massively outdated appliances, the company knew it was never going to woo travelers seeking a nice family vacation or those who routinely stay at the Ritz-Carlton. So, Hans Brinker chose to alienate those people entirely through its marketing and advertising efforts.

While the ads undoubtedly turned away more discerning clientele, it resonated deeply with the company’s target market: young, extremely budget-conscious travelers looking for an all-night party in Amsterdam. Each advertisement reads like it was created expressly for these types of travelers, and the response was incredible—Hans Brinker quickly became one of Amsterdam’s most popular hotels (with its target crowd, of course).

Take a page out of the Hans Brinker book by taking a stand and telling your current and prospective clients what you truly believe in, why that matters to you and what you intend to do about it. Yes, you could certainly lose clients and alienate others through this approach, but were those clients your ideal clients in the first place? Were the others ever going to be your clients if they don’t identify with your values?

In today’s hyper-aware and distrustful world, talking about how great you are no longer signals confidence; it can actually signal weakness. Taking a stand based on your most important core values and using that stand as a filter for who you want as clients and who you don’t might sound heretical, but in practice, may be what sets you apart from your competitors.

2.) Your Clients Understand What Sets You Apart—Use Their Words. Take a moment to review the “Who We Are” or “About Us” sections of your website. If you’ve spent a lot of time and effort here, and you think that the content adequately represents you and your business, congratulations! For most planners, however, this isn’t the case. These sections are often treated as throwaways and populated with copy from old marketing brochures listing services offered and benefits provided. At best, this hurts the business from a search optimization perspective, and at worst, it completely turns off interested prospective clients from pursuing further inquiries.

When executed well, these sections can be a powerful and relatively low-effort way for you to tell your story and position for the clients who you want to work with. The best part? You don’t need to be a writer or marketing genius to put this content together. Your best resource—your top clients—are sitting right across from you.

First, identify what you mean by “top clients.” Your ideal clients aren’t those with the most assets; they are the clients you most enjoy working with. Want more clients like them? Ask them outright what they like most about working with you and your staff, why they chose you and/or plan to stay with you down the road. I can almost guarantee you’ll hear things that you never considered yourself, spoken or written in a way that will resonate with other clients who are looking for the very same things.

Yes, you have to be careful with testimonials, so don’t use this content for that purpose. Instead, gather the information and use the main themes, terms and phrases to populate your “Who We Are” or “About Us” sections, and start driving people to these areas with your social media or email marketing efforts.

3.) Find (Or Re-Discover) Your “Thing.” As a financial planner, there are many things you do every day to prepare for client meetings, conduct the meetings themselves and to craft and manage financial plans—and you likely do many of them well. Of the many things you do well, which one is your “thing?” Many of the skills and services that make you a good financial planner are the very same skills that other advisers and planners would list as their strengths. So the question then becomes, what makes you great?

Again, if this were an easy question, there would be no need for marketers or a burgeoning marketing industry. I can’t tell you the answer, as it’s a question that requires deep personal introspection on your part, but I can tell you that I’ve been surprised by how often someone’s “thing” exists outside of the day-to-day work of their profession.

For example, the greatest business leaders are rarely lauded for their tactical skill in any given area. Instead, we are in awe of their authenticity, empathy, emotional intelligence or the ability to make and stand by bold decisions in the face of significant opposition. It’s the same for marketers in many ways—the excellent public speakers, humorists and collaborators are positioned above even the strongest tacticians.

Don’t limit yourself to just your skills as a financial planner. Ask yourself: What makes me a person that people not only want to work with, but be around? What cause or issue am I so passionate about that I volunteer my time outside of work to local programs and organizations? If you asked my friends what they like most about me, what would they say? What makes me happiest, whether in or outside of work?

These types of questions may spark an answer, and the useful thing about a “thing” is you’ll know it when you hear it. Finding your “thing” should be a wonderful moment, regardless of whether you’re re-discovering it or finding it for the first time. It should make you feel powerful, energized and awaken or re-awaken that confidence that says, “Oh this? Yeah, this is my thing.”

I’ll leave you with a quote from Debbie Millman, author of Brand Thinking and How to Think Like a Great Graphic Designer, who said, “A brand is simply a set of beliefs. And if you don’t create a set of beliefs around your products or services, well, you stand for nothing—you have no values and no vision.” So get out there, take a stand and tell the world not just what you do, but who you are, and why it’s time for them to pay attention.

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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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Learning to Be an Adviser

Industry-wide, financial planning practices are making the shift from tenured advisers to the next generation. With that transition comes the need to train next-gen advisers, but that can be daunting. It’s hard to get someone up to speed, especially when the experienced advisers doing the training barely remember what the process was like.

Everything seems to have changed since then. Back in the day, cold calling was the norm, and now it’s not. The industry is transforming. And the learning process (including the availability of technology-based learning), what clients need and the increasing emphasis on financial planning over somewhat commoditized investment management are pushing the financial planning arena into an entirely new landscape.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have someone build an adviser training system just for your firm? For larger firms, thanks to the gig economy, hiring an independent contractor to come in and build a program may be doable. But that option is likely beyond a solo or small, multi-adviser firm. What should you do instead? Start with the broad buckets of knowledge the incoming generation needs to absorb, and drill down from there.

The Tip of the Iceberg: Training Plan Components

Any training program should include the following key components:

  • Hard knowledge: At the very least, rising financial planners need training on investments, taxes, retirement planning, insurance and estate planning. They can start with the structured CFP® curriculum to attain the credential. Industry and insurance licenses support hard knowledge as well.
  • Soft skills: Equally critical is the ability to interact effectively with clients. Many young advisers compensate for their anxiety or a perceived lack of knowledge by talking too much. Tenured advisers know the skill of not talking. Young advisers need to learn that.
  • Business development skills: The most basic—and essential—skill of all is asking for an introduction to a potential client. Clueing the next generation in on this skill should be a requisite.

Generally speaking, you can find resources to address these needs from industry associations, wholesalers and third-party training vendors. Most advisers would agree, however, that this is just the beginning. The details have to be ironed out between tenured and next-gen advisers, with conversations about the unique aspects of their firm: its vision, values, client philosophy, ethics, compliance policies and procedures.

Best Practices: Content Vs. Format

In addition to the content your training program needs to cover, you should consider how that content will be presented and how learning will be evaluated. This is where the next generation’s learning styles and preferences make a difference in terms of the effectiveness of your training, which will require the following considerations:

  • Keep it short and sweet: Today’s young learners want to learn now in discreet snapshots compatible with a shorter attention span.
  • Motivate with fun incentives: Gamification, which employs game-design elements within learning, is expected and tends to have a positive effect on engaging learners.
  • Use a variety of techniques: Blending different forms of learning is optimal. Online training, classroom training, opportunities for groups of learners to address issues with peers and dialogue between younger advisers and tenured advisers are all parts of the training puzzle.
  • Make the most of resources: Formal training is worth seizing when available.

The Silver Bullet?

Successful firms of tomorrow will commit to developing training programs today. They may start out with an informal structure and lean a bit too heavily on some learn-as-you-go methods. But over time, firms will see that formality in training will attract and retain young advisers better than haphazard, on-the-job training attempts. I predict the industry will double down on training for new advisers in the future.

Still, training in and of itself is no silver bullet. Sometimes, individuals attempt to pursue a career for which they are ill suited, and no amount of training will make up for it. Experienced advisers serve their practices—and their trainees—when they guide the younger generation in the right direction, even if it’s a different path than the one they took. Ideally, we can all learn something in the end.

Joni Youngwirth_2014 for web

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


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Niche Marketing and Social Media for Financial Advisers

Forbes conducted a social media usage survey within the financial planning industry in 2017 and found that 85 percent of advisers use social media to grow their business and connect with prospects. Of this percentage, the majority said that using digital media shortened the buying cycle.

Like its counterparts in the digital realm, social media stands as a strong arm of the inbound marketing umbrella. However, much of it is still misunderstood, largely due to the variety of platforms and their general target markets. Depending on your particular niche, you may do much better on Facebook than Twitter, or perhaps even Pinterest or Reddit.

Here is a quick check-up guide to help you determine where you should be on social media, what times you should post based on that platform, and, as a bonus, some tools to help you manage your social media presence.

Before You Pick a Platform

We’re really big on niche marketing at the CWA Network, so much so that our founder John Enright did a full personality test to best determine what profession he should seek clients within—so that’s exactly what I suggest you do for your business over all—know your demographic inside and out. Unless you have a foundation set in your business plan (your ideal client profile, mission statement, etc.) then it doesn’t matter where you post your content if it isn’t geared towards the right people. This seems like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many advisers don’t “niche themselves” and cast an incredibly broad net.

Is Facebook for Me?

If your business plan is heavier on the 401k/retirement side of things, Facebook is your goldmine. Aging boomers spend a decent chunk of time on Facebook. The best part of Facebook advertising (should you go the paid route) is that it’s much cheaper than advertising on Google Ads. The amount of targeting options available is incredible. For example, you could set up an advertisement that targets 45 to 65-year-olds who live within 30 miles of your office and have interests that are directly related to retirement.

Best times to post on Facebook: Saturdays and Sundays around 9 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., times that all have higher engagement according to a study done by CoSchedule.

Is Twitter for Me?

One of the best strategies for advisers on Twitter is simply to curate content. Sure, you could engage with potential clients (and profiles they may follow), but Twitter is a fickle and fast beast. If you don’t have the time of day to actively engage in ongoing conversation, the content curation route may be best for you. Of course, feel free to post your own content but gathering up articles and links of interest to your demographic is a solid strategy.

Best times to post on Twitter: Wednesdays at noon, but this could vary depending on your niche.

Is Pinterest for Me?

If your demographic is over 80 percent women, then you’ll want to spend some time on Pinterest. Creating content that is geared specifically towards personal finance and budgeting will go a long way. Just be careful to utilize a keyword strategy so that your content doesn’t fall into the incredibly broad “penny pinching” and “thrifty” categories.

Best times to post on Pinterest: Pinterest varies wildly from its counterparts because it’s an image-based platform like Instagram. However, there is a consensus that “pinning” is usually done on Saturdays between 8 and 11 p.m., but 2 a.m. and 4 p.m. any day is also considered fine. Avoid work hours.

Is LinkedIn for Me?

If your client profile has a heavy professional element to it (and it most likely will), targeting business pages where they hang out is a good strategy to have. Creating a Company Showcase page for your practice is the first step as a passive and constant place to show your content, but actively seeking out groups related to your demographic is highly recommended.

Best times to post on LinkedIn: Midweek (Tuesday through Thursday) from 5 to 6 p.m.

Is Google+ for Me?

It’s very unlikely that you’ll find your traffic on Google+ because it’s viewed as one of the less active (community-wise) platforms. CoSchedule found that 90 percent of users on Google+ are lurkers and won’t interact with your page. However, from a SEO perspective (see my last Practice Management Blog post), having a Google+ local business page is incredibly important. Firstly, it helps validate that you are, in fact, a real business. But it also will help prospects find you on the map, contact you easily from their mobile devices and give you that very important validation that being on a Google listing brings.

Is YouTube for Me?

We believe that advisers need to first educate their clients and not worry so much about selling to them. Our job is to help them buy. That said, if you fancy yourself in front of the camera and want a more personal face-time approach to finding and interacting with your clients and prospects, then having regular content uploaded to YouTube is a great idea. Bonus; Like Google+, having a YouTube channel helps with SEO.

Best times to upload a new video: This one is up to you, depending on the content you’re sharing. If it’s more educational in tone, uploading on Mondays generally gets better viewership. If you’re trying to get a call to action completed, try for Thursdays. Industry tip: the same rule applies for sending out emails to your list.

Tools You Can Use

Content scheduling tools can help free up your time to do your client work and analytics tools can help you find out if your efforts are worthwhile. Here are a few:

Content scheduling and engagement
Hootsuite
Buffer
Feedtable
Sprout Social
Social Pilot
CoSchedule
Feedly

Analytics

Buzzsumo
Simply Measured
Keyhole
Reputology
Brandwatch
Google Analytics

An Important Note on Compliance

You know there are rules for traditional marketing. Rules also apply to digital marketing ventures. If you need to know more, make sure to review what FINRA and the SEC says, or check in with your compliance officer before any design or piece of content goes to the cutting room floor.

Kristina Rocci

Kristina Rocci is the web content manager for the CWA Network, a Rochester, N.Y.-based financial adviser coaching business that has developed a turnkey practice management business plan for the high net wealth, 401K and Mass Affluent/Gen XY markets. She originally hails from the fin-tech world in Toronto with 7 years of digital marketing under her belt. You can learn all about how the CWA Network can help adviser and planners alike at www.cwanetwork.com.


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3 Signs You’re Barking Up the Wrong Tree with Your Marketing

It’s been said that the definition of insanity doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

Are you going a little insane with your marketing efforts, trying the same things over and over but not getting anywhere (and have no idea why)? The problem might not be you—and I doubt you’re truly insane.

You just might be barking up the wrong tree. And in that case, the solution is simple: find a different tree!

If you’re finding yourself in any of these situations, it may be time to hit pause, return to the drawing board and consider another, more effective approach so your marketing gives you better results.

1.) You’re Trying to Convince Your Target Market They’re Wrong

Try this fun little experiment: get on a social media network, any social media network and espouse your political opinions to the world. See how many people who fundamentally disagree with you show up to argue about your opinions.

Then try to convince all those people they’re wrong.

You can also try this at your next family get-together or holiday. Or not, because you know how that ends.

So why are you trying the same thing in your marketing?

I’ve worked with financial planners who, when I ask them, “What does your target audience believe about money?” respond with, “Well, they don’t think they need a financial planner.”

Those firms used their marketing to try to convince that particular market segment that they were wrong. It didn’t work.

You need to understand your audience and meet them where they are and work with their beliefs, not against them. And if a client persona you want to market to fundamentally disagrees with your business or your services, you need to go back and redefine that target market. 

2.) You’re Focusing on Your Weaknesses

Most of us feel that to improve personally and professionally, we need to identify our weaknesses and strengthen them.

I’m not sure what the thinking behind this is, but it seems a little backward to me—especially if you’re just starting out. Why double down on what you know you’re bad at, when you could really use all the help you can get to gain traction and grow your practice?

I don’t mean to suggest you should never identify a weak spot and attempt to improve or correct it. But I do mean to say the time to do that is not when you’re trying to grow, you’re struggling to hit goals or you’re not on track to the kind of success you want.

Focus on your strengths instead so you can start making progress and seeing results.

How does this apply to marketing? Here’s a simple example: if you’re a terrible writer but a great speaker, don’t blog. Try video or podcasts, seek out phone interviews with journalists, or apply for speaking gigs as you primary marketing channels.

Or record yourself talking and hire someone to transcribe that into a blog post for you.

3.) You’re Appealing to Reason

Many planners make rational, reasonable appeals in their marketing messages and their content. They logically explain their services and why they’re objectively better than the next firm down the road.

The problem? People aren’t rational.

People don’t make rational decisions. People don’t choose a product or service because it’s objectively better. People make decisions based on their emotions and their feelings, on their worldviews and belief systems.

We all suffer from a number of cognitive biases that lead us to make irrational or illogical decisions. That doesn’t mean we always make bad decisions or choose the wrong thing.

But we tend to believe we’re making logical choices when in fact we’re highly influenced by a number of things at a subconscious level that have nothing to do with logic at all. We’ll do mental back flips to justify our decisions as perfectly reasonable and rational.

The solution? Stop appealing to reason and start appealing to emotion—or even to those cognitive biases themselves.

You can do that through storytelling. You can do it through great copywriting. You can do it by understanding some basics about human psychology and understanding how people—including yourself—think and make decisions the way they do.

You can get empathetic with your audience and really take the time to understand what they care about and respond to, and what does or doesn’t matter so much to them.

Only by doing that work first can you create compelling content that resonates with the group of people you seek to serve.

KaliHawlk
 Kali Roberge is the founder of Creative Advisor Marketing, an inbound marketing firm that helps financial advisers grow their businesses by creating compelling content to attract prospects and convert leads. She started CAM to give financial pros the right tools to build trust and connections with their audiences, and loves helping advisers find authentic ways to communicate in a way that resonates with the right people.


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Disrupting Distribution: How Financial Planners Can Take Advantage of The Golden Age of Distribution 

Back when “Will and Grace” was first broadcast by NBC back in 2006, there were only three ways that someone could catch an episode. Viewers could use their antenna (remember those?), they could tune in via cable or they could have a satellite dish service like DirectTV. Plus, you had to tune in Thursday nights ‪at 8 p.m. to see it. If you got home late from work that night—at say ‪9 p.m.—there was no way to see that episode again.

When NBC rebooted the sitcom in 2017, they launched the show with more than 100 ways to watch a single episode. Sure, there’s still tuning in Thursday nights ‪at 8 p.m. to NBC, but if that were the only place they broadcast the show, they would lose out on more than 90 percent of the audience that wants to tune in. Today viewers can watch that exact same episode on NBC Digital, on demand, taped via your DVR, on DirectTV, with skinny cable bundles from YouTube TV or Sling, catch clips on Facebook and YouTube, through Hulu—and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Financial planners are faced with the same distribution issues. Do you tell your clients, prospects and market about your new product, news or updates via an email, a newsletter, via a video on YouTube, a photo on Instagram or a status update on Facebook? The correct answer, much like “Will and Grace” discovered, is that you use them all.

This is both good and bad news for financial advisers. It’s bad because we have limited time and resources and simply cannot be in all places at all times. It’s good news because it gives us even more outlets to share our content, our ideas, our products and our services with the people who need them.

Enter into The Golden Age of Distribution

In this Golden Age of Distribution there are four key things you need to do in order to seize this opportunity and start getting more attention on you and your financial business.

1.) Create weekly episodic content. One thing we can all learn from our favorite TV shows is their frequency. Most are weekly and draw us back in to watch next week and then the next week. When you create weekly episodic videos you are giving your community a reason to keep paying attention to you. If creating a new video or episode of your TV show intimidates you, record them in batches. Spend one ‪Monday morning every month filming four episodes that can be spaced out throughout the month. Our clients create 10 to 13 episodes in one day, providing them with weekly episodes for an entire quarter.

2.) Connect with media brands and platforms that need great financial content. Local media brands understand that they need to create a massive amount of content to remain relevant. They also know that they cannot profitably afford to staff in house video teams and staff writers to supply them with enough content to satisfy the demand necessary today. This is your opportunity to partner with them and get them to distribute and share your videos and episodes. This is something we have done with ‪Entrepreneur.com, which shares our weekly show, “The Ambitious Life” with their millions of readers and social media followers every week. This gives them a highly produced and valuable show to share with their audience without having to fund the production and it exposes us to their audience. You can do the same thing locally, nationally or internationally with media outlets that have the attention of your market. Make a list of all the media outlets your target market consumes and tell them you want to create a show for their audience that you will pay for and produce. You’ll be surprised how many will take you up on that offer. (Editor’s note: FPA members can take advantage of FPA’s Media Training program to help them learn to do this. Sign up today for upcoming media trainings here.)

3.) Re-package content for different platforms. The reason you can see episodes of “Will and Grace” on a hundred different platforms is because people are choosing to watch content where they want, when they want. My mentor, Dan Kennedy, has always taught me to sell in a vacuum, but that is becoming more difficult with our “on demand” world. Today I still prefer to sell in a vacuum (in a sales environment I have control over), but I want to push out my content into as many channels as possible to start the conversation. Taking a page from “Will and Grace,” every time I film an episode of my own weekly show, I post it to Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn. I send it to my email list, I share it with Entrepreneur, and then also distribute it to Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire and other platforms. This type of distribution model allows you to be everywhere your market is watching content.

4.) Drive people back to your media platform. If there is one thing I have learned above all else, it’s that with everything you do, you want to lead interested prospects back to the media platform that you own and control. This can be your email list, your newsletter, your magazine or any other media that you own and control. Every video and every piece of content you distribute online should point people back to your website, a landing page or opportunity to work with you. You are not in the business of getting ‘Likes.’ You’re in business to help people create their financial future. Your content and episodes gain you attention, trust and influence, but none of that feeds you. Turning this attention to dollars is what really matters. Never forget that and never forget why you are investing time and money into video content.

Right now, you have an opportunity to enter the Golden Age of Distribution. This can only happen when you film episode 1. When you share it, market it and distribute it. If you don’t, your market has plenty of other options to watch videos from your competitors and more than 100 different ways to watch their favorite sitcoms. Why not make their new favorite show your own?

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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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Taking Control of Your Business

More and more people seem to describe life today as feeling like the roller coaster ride that never ends. Between political polarization, market volatility, bizarre weather, daily scandals of one sort or another, it seems as if disturbance is everywhere. In a world where pessimism may seem to be at every turn, it’s time to seek ways to regain a positive approach to your practice, your clients, your family and your community. You must maintain perspective, both personally and professionally, and draw inspiration from various sources. It’s time to take charge of that which is in your control—step up to that plate, lead by example and make a difference!

Take Control of Your Time

Time seems to have become the most precious resource. Adding more hours to the day is not a viable option, so you need to manage the time that you have. Get organized and engage in the activities that will lead you to achieving your goals. There is no single, right organizational system, but find one that fits your practice and works with your team. Don’t set yourself up for frustration; ensure that your daily activity plan is realistic and don’t let others take control of your day. And, be sure to include your personal or family activities in your organizational system. Define what’s important and make it your reality by creating and executing a balanced calendar. Take a look at our Time Study activity in Coaches Corner to help you get started.

Engaged team members need to know how they influence the success of the business. (2)Take Control of Your Communication

Lack of communication remains the No. 1 client complaint in our profession and miscommunication is typically what fuels personal relationship issues. This should be an easy item to fix but clearly this is not the case. When the markets take a wild ride, financial professionals must proactively communicate with their clients. No hiding in your offices and asking your team members to take a message. Get out there and let your clients know that you are actively taking care of their financial situation. When there is downbeat news that needs to be shared, delivery is key! It is important to not only use the right words, but also to deliver the message with the right tone. Perpetuate the positive and remember the difference between being realistic and being negative. Also, this is not the time to skip your team meetings. Be authentic and transparent with your team and be sure they have a voice within the practice. When internal team communication falters, errors, stress and dissatisfaction all increase. Likewise, while at home, be sure that you are listening and sharing with all members of your family on a regular basis. Check our Coaches Corner for a checklist and article on communication. And, if you’re interested in learning more about preferred communication styles, ask us about our MapMyStrengths.com assessment tools.

Take Control of Your Client Service

In a commoditized industry, the service experience you offer your clientele is fundamental to retention. Clients are also more susceptible to the attention of other financial professionals during times of financial, social or political uncertainty. We recommend that every financial planning and advisory practice build a service model that articulates, demonstrates and validates the value that your team offers. You need to take the time on a regular basis to let them know how important they are to your practice. Simple thank you cards, personalized notes and small tokens of appreciation can make a big difference to them personally and also to your client retention ratio. Exceeding clients’ expectations from a service standpoint will make a huge difference, especially when performance expectations may not be met. Service is more important today than ever. (If you are interested in learning more about developing client service models, ask us about our book, Know Service.)

Take Control of Your Perspective

When times get rough and you need something to get through the hectic day, gratitude and being thankful for every little thing in your life can help provide your fuel. Your clients, team, centers of influence, family and even smiling strangers can contribute substance and value to your life. Acknowledging others, performing random acts of kindness or giving small gifts to others, are great ways to put a smile on someone else’s face and provide a sense of fulfillment in your own life.

Instead of getting caught up in depressing headlines or non-constructive attitudes, create time to do something nice for others. Make a donation to a client’s favorite charitable organization. Take a team member out to lunch. Meet a center of influence for a coffee. You can also make an enormous difference in someone’s life by visiting a senior’s home, serving at the homeless shelter once a month or just listening when a person needs a friendly ear. Create a work and home environment filled with encouragement, recognition and the “pass it forward” concept. You’ll breed more loyalty along the way, feel good about yourself, and make a positive difference in someone else’s life. By focusing on things that are in your control, you will create a more pleasing environment for all around you.

Take Control of Your Actions

It’s very easy to get caught up and follow the crowd when you are surrounded by negativity. Don’t fall into this trap—dare to be different and unique. Avoid the water cooler conversations, turn off the TV and don’t take out your frustrations on others. Misery loves company—don’t accept the invitation! In your practice, focus on the long-term plan and objectives of your clients, not the idea of the day. Don’t worry about what everyone else in the office or neighborhood is doing; live YOUR dream, not someone else’s.

Is attitude everything? It may not be everything, but it is a good starting point. Without a positive mindset, we do nothing but perpetuate the cycle of negativity that surrounds us. Changing other people’s attitudes and actions is out of your control, but you can certainly respond in a more affirmative and confident manner. Always try to take the high road and, do everything in your power to create an environment that breeds encouragement, whether it is at work or at home. But remember, the only attitude that you really have control over is yours! So don’t let others bring you down, don’t follow the crowd and don’t ask “where did the fun go?” Take control and re-create it. Yes, financial services is a serious profession, but professionalism and fun do not have to be mutually exclusive. Make the best of your time, communicate often and effectively, serve others and appreciate the small stuff in life. Be sure to celebrate the good fortune that you have, laugh at yourself, deepen the relationships in your life and BE the difference!

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Sarah E. Dale and Krista S. Sheets are partners at Performance Insights (performanceinsights.com), where they focus on helping financial professionals increase results through wiser practice management and people decisions. They are also coaches in FPA’s Team Development Coaches Corner.