This post wraps up my series on content marketing. The last content type I want to talk about are checklists and FAQs.

She can’t be serious, you’re probably thinking. Checklists?

Of course I’m serious. Too many firms spend their whole design budget on big projects—a website, collateral, white papers, quarterly commentaries. But they don’t take the time to design the smaller pieces that clients see every day. Checklists. Meeting agendas. FAQs. Yet those are equally relevant to the relationship.

Take checklists. Almost every firm I’ve ever worked with uses a new client checklist—asking clients for wills, tax forms, statements, account balances, and so on. It’s one of the first things a new client sees, and it’s usually just an Excel or Word document that’s ugly, hard to read, and dull. Like it or not, this piece is an extension of your brand, so you need to get it right.

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It’s time for more real-world examples of content marketing. In this post, I’m going to talk about infographics.

And to be honest, talking about infographics is all most people do. The industry loves the idea of infographics—images that combine the technical data and text that advisors adore with a graphic visual that’s actually fun for readers to follow. Problem is, too few advisors are actually using them. It’s time to fix that.

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The FiComm team enjoyed some southern comfort in Nashville last week at Insider’s Forum 2017, which kicked off with Founder, Honkytonk Bob “Tex” Veres, serenading the crowd at the Omni with his soulful take on the “Fiduciary Blues.”

Light-hearted humor aside, the week was both thought-provoking and empathetic about the uneasy state of the industry (compressed margins, rising competition, succession planning, and the looming DOL rule). Bob wasted no time tackling many of these topics in his keynote, and his predictions for the future painted a vastly different picture of what financial advice could look like in just a few short years.

FiComm is a long-time supporter and partner for Insider’s Forum, and with good reason. Bob and his team have created a lasting, impactful event that often sets the tone for how advisors and service providers think about industry trends, and the action-packed agenda of breakouts and moderated panels always makes for an energizing, immersive and collaborative gathering.

Here are our five takeaways we wanted to share with you from the event:

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I have more real-world content marketing tactics to share with you. Last time, I showed you how videos and animations could build your brand. Now, let’s talk about social media advertising.

We’ll start with a few examples. Here are some ads we did for CLSAutopilot, developers of a next-gen self-service client experience solution for clients and advisors. Like robo advice taken to a whole new level.

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Or How to Bring Life to Your Story with Videos and Animation

To round out our discussion about content marketing, I promised to show you some real-world examples—ideas that might inspire you to create awesome, shareable, unique content of your own.

Let’s start with videos and animation. First, take a look at some short animated videos we created for one of our clients, Mobile Assistant—a mobile transcription service that lets you dictate client meeting notes from your car, for instance, and get a transcript created by an actual human being.

 


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In my last post, I introduced the idea of the Content Roadmap (please read that post first if you haven’t already). Also called an editorial calendar, it’s a tool we use to plan, organize, and schedule content marketing programs for our clients.

If you want to try using it yourself, I’ve made a handy Excel template you can download and customize.

(You might want to open it up and follow along as you read this post. If not, skip to the next paragraph for now.) As you can see, the Roadmap tells you what you’re going to accomplish every week, every month, every quarter, and every year. Along the top are the themes and messages we’ll focus on each quarter. Down the Y-axis you can see all the content and programs we’ll produce all year, broken out by category. Find where a specific row and column intersect, and you’ll see when each program will deploy. Simple.

Before I go any further, let’s address what we’re doing here, and why.

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Here’s something that happens to me a lot: I finally convince an advisor to try content marketing. Then I have to talk them down off the ledge once they realize the whole world will be able to read everything they publish online. That includes their clients, their partners, their mothers—everybody.

Seriously. The knuckles go white. Sometimes they get clammy. I can almost hear what they’re thinking.

“What if nobody likes my writing? What if I make a mistake? My credibility will be shot. How will my peers judge me? What will I talk about? I need more research. More graphs. More footnotes!”

Take it easy on yourself. No one is expecting your blog to win a Pulitzer. If you’re a solo practitioner or very small firm, don’t place unnecessary pressure on producing the type of content that will be picked up by the press. After all, the purpose of content marketing is not to become a media star. You just want to avoid becoming a “ghost”—someone with little or no online presence to shape the customer journey for your prospects. Don’t worry whether you’re smart enough or snarky enough. Simply share your knowledge, just as you would with a client across the table. Be yourself. That’s more than enough.

Getting started is easier than you think. Over the years, we’ve identified the 7 most important secrets to content marketing success. Keep these in mind as you get ready to roll:

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Are your ears ringing? They should be. Because right now, someone you don’t know is probably talking about you. Or checking out your profile on LinkedIn. Or reading something you’ve written, trying to decide how smart you sound. It’s 2017, and yet advisors are still surprised to hear that their social media feeds are being pored over by prospects.

Why wouldn’t they be? Don’t you do the same thing? If you get a call from home about a burst pipe, don’t you immediately type “plumbers” into DuckDuckGo or Google? If you’re interviewing candidates for a new position, don’t you look at their social media posts? Don’t you ever check LinkedIn or Facebook to find out more about your clients?

Of course you do. Everybody does, including your prospects. Even if they came to you through referrals, they aren’t blindly relying on what their friends and accountants tell them. They’re doing their own online research—whether you realize it or not.

And that fact completely changes the client acquisition game.

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Still with me? This is the last post in a five-part series—one where I try to help you figure out whether you’re truly ready to work with a marketing or PR agency.

As you weigh all your options, I want to leave you with one final thought: Marketing is never as easy as it looks.

Sending a press release seems pretty simple, doesn’t it? You just decide what you want to say, type it up, press a button and put it across the wire. Then just wait for the phone to ring, right?

Wrong.

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This is a follow-up to my last post about getting ready to meet with an agency.

Why don’t advisors do a better job of preparing for their first agency meeting? One reason is that they don’t know how. They’re smart people, they work hard, and they take the process seriously. But they do work in advisor firms, after all, not in a PR or marketing agency. To them, we represent a foreign country. It isn’t easy to figure out where they should start exploring.

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