Content marketing is defined by the Content Marketing Institute as a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action. And it’s a great way to make yourself more visible and attract new clients. It can be a great way to attract referrals as well.
Being referable means giving people in your tribe reasons to mention you to other people. We know that a referral is most frequently made because a client hears a friend express a need they recognize their advisor can satisfy. Of course, you never know when those opportunities are going to arise. So regularly creating original new content will provide a reason for your clients to keep talking about you.
Here are a few ways original content can help drive referrals:
Remarkable is referable – Timely original content gives people a reason to talk about you. It makes you remarkable in the literal sense of being worthy of a remark. Why should someone talk about you? It’s not your great service or your special relationship with clients. I get great service from my auto mechanic but I don’t mention him very often. Sure, if a friend expresses frustration over where they currently take their car to be serviced I will bring him up. But otherwise there is not a reason to mention him regardless of how great his service is. If he sent me an article he wrote about the 10 cars in the new model year with the lowest maintenance costs, I might mention it or pass it along to a few friends. One reason people might talk about you is because of the novelty of something you produced. It’s the same reason we mention television shows, movies, current events, Donald Trump, even the weather. It’s worth talking about because it’s the shiny new object. Content marketing makes you remarkable.
It gives clients something to point to – We know that advisors only get to meet a small portion of the referrals their clients make. When your client refers you, what do they say? (If you have not asked your clients this, you should.) Is it something generic? That they like working with you, that you provide good service, that you have given them good advice? How much more powerful would it be if your clients could point to a specific article related to a conversation they were having? What if they could say “my advisor wrote an interesting piece about that a little while ago. I’ll send you a link.” It becomes more than “I like my advisor.” You have a chance to speak to them about something that’s on their mind, when it is on their mind.
It helps a referral get to know you – Before someone reaches out to interview you, they would like to know that besides having expertise, you are a person they will get along with. Projecting a sense of who are is the whole rationale behind the advisor matching service Guidevine. Creating content enables you to project your beliefs, values, and personality.
It enables you to give value before you ask for something – Committing to a discovery meeting, having a conversation about services, even picking up the phone to make contact require a level of trust. Offering insights, tips, and generic guidance affords you the opportunity to earn some of that trust before a prospect ever reaches out to you. And original content can deliver that value.
Here are a few tips that will help make your content marketing more effective.
- Talk to the unique needs of your target market. Economic and market updates do not help you connect with your ideal prospects. We have CNBC and the Motley Fool for that. Addressing the special problems and challenges your target clients struggle with delivers value and helps you establish a connection. It communicates that you know what they need.
- Highlight your niche. If you have a special expertise, a unique perspective on things, or a special way of doing things, talk about them. Give people a sense of what it’s like to work with you.
- Take a position. Express your opinion. Be personal. Let people get to know you. Help them understand that you are the kind of person they would like to work with.
- Leverage current events. You may be reinforcing timeless principles but tie them to the headlines. Being newsworthy gives people a reason to bring you up in conversation.
- Make your content easy to share. I conducted an advisory board meeting a couple months ago where we asked about different kinds of communications that clients could endorse and pass along to friends. One board member summarized the group’s feeling when she said “I don’t want you to send a bunch of letters with my name on it but if you post more things to your Facebook page I would be happy to share them.” Provide social links on your content so that people can easily post it to their own social media or email it to a friend.
- Promote your posts. If you blog or publish articles to your website, make it easy for people to hear about it by posting links to it on social media.
- Use email. People might see things you post to your website or social media but they can be easy to miss. Email is a much more intimate, personal kind of communication. You can increase the likelihood that someone will see a message by inserting it into their inbox. Whatever platform you use to post content, connect it to your email marketing system so that it gets distributed automatically.
- Include centers of influence on your distribution list. When you create content don’t forget your COI’s. Anything you create that is useful for your clients may be valuable to many of their clients as well.