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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You’ve read my other posts (Part I and Part II). And you’re finally ready to talk to a marketing or PR agency.

Or are you?

I’m amazed how many prospects contact an agency without any advance preparation whatsoever. It’s not just that they don’t know what services the agency offers. The real issue is, they can’t even explain why they’re calling in the first place.

You might be raising an eyebrow at my suggestion that you actually need to prepare before calling a vendor. Don’t. I want to help you maximize your time, and potential investment.

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Everybody likes to think they’re open-minded. But what if you’re really not?

As I said last time, there’s no point in paying for outside advice if you have no intention of listening to it. But all of us have trouble admitting when we’re being stubborn or dismissive. That’s why, at FiComm, we’ve learned to look for certain telltale clues that suggest an advisor may not be emotionally ready to trust an outside professional.

Whether you’re a vendor or advisor, watch and listen for these statements coming out of an advisor’s mouth. They could express perfectly legitimate sentiments—but they can also signal that the time isn’t ripe for working with an outside agency.

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Have you ever wondered, “Do I really need a Marketing or PR agency? Can’t I just do everything myself?” If so, this posts—and the next four that follow—are for you.

Last week, I was on a call with an advisor who asked me those exact questions about working with a PR agency. He told me, he could just write his own press releases and send them out across the wire himself.

“I can do the same thing you do,” he said.

I told him: No, you can’t. 
 
He took some convincing. Until that phone call, the only things he had ever seen coming out of a PR agency were poorly written press releases sent over for his approval. We gave him a glimpse of what really happens behind the scenes. We had to show all our work: the messaging, the strategizing, nurturing relationships with reporters, outreach, follow-up, and then more follow-up. Eventually, I did convince him, but the conversation was exhausting.

Surely there’s a better way.

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As I said in an earlier post: when you sell to advisors, you have to be authentic to your own product. If you’re not, you’ll eventually be exposed as a fake. It’s inevitable.

Still, people keep trying to fake it anyway. Think of all the vendors who position themselves as “partners” or brag about their “consultative approach.” (By the way, who doesn’t have a consultative approach these days? Can you think of any providers who advertise their “arrogant dictator” approach or their “we-don’t-listen-to-you” approach? It’s meaningless jargon at this point.) Okay. So this joker is now your partner. Try calling this new “partner” of yours for help solving a specific, real-world problem in your own business—say, performing an advisor practice valuation or recruiting a Millennial woman. Chances are, you’ll get to watch them twisting in the wind until they finally admit they don’t actually do any of the things they talk about on their website. They just put the content up because they know you want to read it.

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The Natural

How to be an outstanding PR spokesperson

Public Relations is challenging.  Because it is by nature unpredictable, with no precise formula for achieving a desired result, it can be particularly stressful both for those who practice it as a profession and those called upon to be the standard bearers for their companies in the face of consistent media scrutiny.  In this post we’ll focus on the latter.

The spokesperson’s role is to represent the business well, on the front lines with the media.  Over the course of more than a decade putting clients in front of reporters to tell their stories, offer insights and provide access to their particular expertise, I’ve seen a wide range of skill levels, along with many successes and more than a few failures.  Some are simply not cut out for continuous at-bats with different journalists and publications – you can see the pain on their faces at the very thought of an unscripted encounter with a media outlet.  These don’t last long – better suited to advertising, and should seek safe harbor in words bought with coin.  Others take time to develop, but with the proper coaching, counsel and repeated practice, they become very skilled at engaging with members of the Fourth Estate.  But every now and then, we discover a company representative who seems born to champion the brand publicly and does so with an ease that makes one marvel.  These spokes-folk are rare indeed.

It was apparent not long after taking on Riskalyze as a client that Aaron Klein, their CEO, possessed a special gift with regard to media relations.  He intuitively seemed to “get it”, almost immediately.  Klein seemed to take to PR like an athlete who knows he’s going to perform well, has put in the practice reps, proceeds to memorize the playbook, and then runs out on the field and takes over the game.  Its fun to watch.  I could go on about Aaron’s savvy as a company representative with the press, but in order to understand his approach, and to glean as much as you can from it to incorporate into your own PR playbook, I sat down with “The Natural” himself.

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