Let’s get digital


When Aussie legend Olivia Newton-John scored her biggest US hit with the raunchy single ‘Physical’ the digital revolution had not yet been televised.

If you were of the demographic that wanted to watch a white-leotarded, purple-tighted Newton-John prance around to the relentlessly perky tune when it was released in October 1981 your options were pretty limited: wait for it to appear on one of the-then novel video hits shows (perhaps even on MTV, which had launched on August the same year), or; view a lo-fi, recorded-from-TV copy on VHS – maybe at your rich friend’s house.

While the lyrical and musical merits of ‘Physical’ continue to be debated (alright, they don’t), the Grammy Award-winning video, is embedded in our culture. Today, its many different versions are also digitally embedded in YouTube, providing leotard-lovers with audio-visual content at the touch of a button.

Olivia Newton-John, of course, is just the thin-end of the wedge. The fact we can produce, copy and distribute all manner of digital materials at almost light-speed creates both opportunities, and challenges for financial advisers.

When content is everywhere – and free – it takes some skill to craft a message that can stand out in the crowded online market for your clients’ attention. ‘Content marketing’ – as the strategy is now known – does not imply you bombard your clients incessantly with useless information simply to keep your brand in view.

Unlike Olivia, we can’t all rely on a back-catalogue of risque ‘80s hits to maintain our online profiles. But financial advisers can’t ignore the multi-channel communication opportunities offered to us by the internet age.

Let’s get into digital.

And here’s some simple steps to help you make the move:

Set your objectives 

Your first step is to determine exactly what you want to achieve with your online communication strategy. Is it raising awareness, retaining existing clients or building a profile that’s most important? Agreeing on what your priorities are from the outset is essential for success.

Identify your audience 

Identify exactly who it is you want to target and find out how they negotiate social media. Ask yourselves what sort of content they’d like to receive. Is it the informed investor, is it ‘mums and dads’ who need help or those who are transitioning to retirement? Think about the problems they’re facing that you might provide an answer to.

Plan your timelines 

The most important thing here is to be realistic. Research suggests that it takes between six and nine months for content marketing to start making a significant difference. Don’t expect overnight success. But be specific – for example, you could aim for a number of web-page or LinkedIn views per day after, say, a month, six months and a year.

Schedule your communications 

A content calendar laying out what you intend to publish and when is essential. As a visual person, I create mine in Excel and break it down into a weekly content-marketing schedule. There are plenty of apps that can help in this regard. Every week in my staff meeting we plan the next month’s content, decide who will prepare it and what medium it is to be distributed by. Of course, when creating your timeline you must always consider holidays and other events that may affect your target audience. Revisit this program, edit it regularly to make sure it is hitting the targets mentioned above.

Match the medium(s) with your audience

Interviews are a great way of starting either written, email or video content. Create a set of questions to ask your favourite client and then use this content in your chosen medium. Once you have the questions ready to go, distribute in as many ways as possible – LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, WordPress, YouTube, Instagram… The more you can distribute or redistribute the bigger your target audience may be.

With so many generations in the workforce it’s important to choose the medium (or mediums) that will suit your particular target group. This could be as simple as a regular written form of communication to something more complicated such as a professionally-produced video distributed via multiple digital platforms.

Be clear about what you’re promoting  

Content marketing is not always about ‘me’, it is about referencing other people, other ideas, quoting sources.

Financial planning is a service industry but if you just talk about how great your business is, potential clients will be instantly turned off. Focus on the wants and needs of your clients, how your solutions solved their problems. Show how you can help them, not sell them your brand. Brand sale will come automatically when your message resonates with client needs

Make a call to action 

One of thing I find most people forget is a ‘call to action’. Sure, we don’t want to lay on the hard-sell but what about providing them a copy of the latest white paper you found interesting or a case study that might relate to their circumstances.

Edit, then edit, then edit again

I am constantly trying to teach my 10-year old daughter to fine-tune her book reviews. Don’t give me the full story, I tell her, summarise. Likewise, ask yourself if there is something you can say in a sentence instead of a paragraph. There is plenty of content in the market place: make yours clear concise and effective.

The bottom line is that financial planners need to attract and retain clients. Word of mouth is the best way to find new clients, and content marketing is simply an extension of that. It’s all about having something valuable to say, generating discussion and gradually establishing yourself, or your firm, as a thought leader.

People need to be educated about financial planning advice, and content – especially video – is a powerful educational tool.

In her famous 1981 video for ‘Physical’ Olivia Newton-John offered up her own communication tip, singing:

“I’m saying all the things that I know you’ll like Making good conversation”

We need to make good conversation with our clients by whatever means available. So, let’s get into digital.

As presented at FPA Australia by Philippa Sheehan

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