Thought Leadership May Be the Only Edge for Financial Advisors
Clearly, the financial advisory industry is undergoing a major transformation. Technological advances and the democratization of investing has virtually commoditized financial advice to the detriment of advisors who continue to languish in brand obscurity. Until financial advisors can differentiate themselves as authorities in their field, most struggle to gain the attention of new clients or keep the attention of existing clients. Advisors who establish themselves as true thought leaders hold a distinct advantage in the race to add new clients and grow assets under management.
The Yellow Brick Road to thought leadership
Although thought leaders don’t usually sprout up overnight, financial advisors have the capacity to transform themselves into one fairly quickly. As the good witch, Glinda revealed to Dorothy, who desperately needed to find a way to get home, “You had the power all along, my dear.” For Dorothy, it was the ruby red slippers she was wearing. For financial advisors, it’s their website – not necessarily the website itself, but the content that springs from it.
Your website acts as your main branding platform. But, without fresh, compelling, thought-provoking content that provides authentic perspectives while building trust in your brand, it is nothing more than a digital brochure. If your website consists only of static content with little opportunity for user interaction, there is no reason for visitors to find it or spend any time there if they do.
If you think about it, in a highly competitive arena with a level playing field, the only way to gain a differentiation edge is with content. It’s what clients are looking for. They want information they can use; to learn something new; insight into your thinking; a compelling reason to start a relationship; a reason to bookmark your website. Firms that can regularly provide that kind of content are more successful at filling their pipeline, cultivating relationships, and building their client base.
You need a blog
The primary method for delivering original content is through a blog featured prominently on the website. While most people know what a blog is, many firms recharacterize it in terms that connote an educational resource, such as “Insights” or “Perspectives.” Regardless, your visitors know a blog is where they will find content. It helps to feature headlines and excerpts of recent posts on your website home page. When you incorporate SEO techniques, your posts have a better chance of appearing high in the search pages. Once the search engines find your content, they will come back looking for more if you post fresh content regularly, keeping it high in the search engine rankings.
Social media for building influence
But, that’s just the first step in building your thought leadership position. If you think of your blog as your traffic hub, it sits at the center of a “web” of other content portals, such as your social media sites. Posting your content on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites expands your potential audience and builds your online presence. When they click on your link, they are taken to your website where they can explore more content. When your audience begins to react by leaving comments on your posts, it’s your opportunity to engage and build your influence.
Influence + Credibility = Thought Leadership
But, you can’t stop there. The more content you provide, the more influence you gain. But you need credibility. By combining your content – whether it’s an article, a white paper, special report, or ebook – with public relations, you get the media involved. When the media picks up on your content, you and your message gain instant credibility and your influence flourishes. Start locally by building connections with local journalists and smaller media outlets. Those connections can lead to opportunities with larger media outlets. If you score a media appearance, so it is imperative that you be well-prepared and well-practiced.
Finally, you need a way to track those who are engaging with your content. By adding a marketing automation system to your email marketing, you can know who is engaging with your website and social media sites and what they are doing when they are there. Through marketing automation, you can begin to build direct relationships with them with automated follow up consisting of content that interests them. When their level of engagement reaches a certain level, it’s time to reach out. When you are a thought leader, they will take the call.
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