Increasingly, advisors are doing more than advising clients. They’re educating the public.
X Some planners seek to build their brand by sharing their investment philosophy or musings about the economy. Others want to empower investors to make smarter decisions or teach them about financial principles.
Regardless of their motive, financial advisors seem intent on disseminating their thoughts in writing. From blogs to books, they’re producing content like never before.
If you’re going to share your knowledge or opinions, what’s the best vehicle to use? Posting short blogs from time to time on your firm’s website is a low-cost, low-commitment endeavor. Writing a monthly or quarterly newsletter can strengthen your relationships with clients (and attract prospects), but it requires more time and effort. And completing a book can enhance your credibility and help you reach a wider audience.
“What works best is pairing your writing channel with the appropriate demographic that you’re trying to reach,” said Douglas Boneparth, a certified financial planner in New York City. “Reaching certain baby boomers through social media can be a bad idea, because they may prefer a newsletter. But for Generation X or Generation Y, more digital content can be effective.”
Even if you deliver substantive content to your target audience, you need to convey your points clearly and succinctly. Pruning away extraneous detail — and presenting digestible nuggets of insight — raises the odds that readers will take notice.
It’s also important to balance what you find fascinating with what your readers deem interesting and relevant to their lives. You may enjoy speculating about the inner workings of the Federal Reserve, while investors might simply want to know how the Fed’s moves can impact their investments.
Target Your Audience
Savvy advisors don’t just write stuff in a vacuum, hoping that people read it. Instead, they follow the numbers to determine whether their content hits the mark.
When Boneparth adds written material to his firm’s website, he measures the results. Using tools such as MailChimp for email marketing, he tracks the number of readers, when they open a particular blog post or newsletter article, and how long they spend on it.
“If you don’t measure it, it’s harder to make adjustments,” he said. “The analytics can show you if you’re reaching whom you want to reach.”
Boneparth, 33, wants to connect with readers from age 18 to 36. So he writes with them in mind, knowing that they tend to “digest information in two- to three-minute spurts.” He also cites movies and other cultural touchstones that resonate with them.
Some advisors strive to reach a mass audience in the hope of positioning themselves as thought leaders. With limited time to devote to writing, they may figure that the more readers they attract, the better.
For the past three years, Jon Ten Haagen has written an article every other week for Long-Islander News, his regional newspaper. He’s a certified financial planner in Huntington, N.Y.
He says each “Ask The Expert” article takes about two hours to research and write, and he invites readers to sign up for his e-newsletter. He plans to compile the articles for a book.
“I used to post my articles on my website, but that was a waste,” he said. “I didn’t get much of a response. Now that I’m in the newspaper, I reach a lot more people.”
Begin By Blogging
For many advisors, the starting point for writing is launching a blog. They may lack grounding as writers, so blogging gives them a chance to polish their craft, find their voice and identify what topics trigger the most interest.
Blogging requires experimentation and patience. Advisors usually don’t see instant results, as it takes time to build a following. Those who offer compelling facts, trenchant observations and eye-catching graphics tend to stand out.
Lauren Zangardi Haynes, a certified financial planner in Midlothian, Va., started a blog in 2016. Initially, she sought to help friends who posed questions about their personal finances.
It took many months for her readership to grow. But she now finds that the blog solidifies her standing among prospects.
“It’s a way they can check me out before calling me,” she said. “People want to hire a planner who’s knowledgeable, but it can be hard to connect with someone on a typical website.”
Having the blog has also opened doors for new writing outlets. She has started to submit articles to a local magazine aimed at families.
“I’m not sure I would have gotten that opportunity without having my blog in place,” she said.
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