How much time we spend towards something usually dictates how good we are at that activity.
The top esports competitors right now play around 12-14 hours a day.
LeBron James cross-trains and practices basketball drills two to three times a day.
And in his book Outliers, Malcoln Gladwell writes that to become world-class at something, you have to spend about 10,000 hours practicing it.
If you’re like me, you want to be really good at communicating why people should work with you…but you don’t have a spare 10,000 hours around to make yourself into a marketing master.
And if you’re a financial advisor and marketing isn’t your main job, I know you don’t have 10,000 hours to spend on creating content to market your business.
In a recent study of how advisors spend their time, Michael Kitces found that most advisors spend around five hours a week on marketing and business development activities. That means that not all those five hours even go to marketing.
So you’re short on time, but you want to create great content. What do you do?
You need to have a set framework you can work within to get the most out of your time.
Over the rest of this post, I’ll cover three types of content you can lean on to produce a consistent flow of marketing communications.
The first is perhaps the easiest method.
Don’t worry about creating wholly original content with never-before-seen insights all the time. I get that you want to become a thought leader, but if you spend all your time thinking about ways to become a thought leader—you won’t have time to actually become one.
So don’t put your focus on big flashy ideas. Put your focus on what’s going on around you.
Again, according to the Blue Shirt sage himself, advisors on average meet with clients for just under 9 hours a week.
That’s 9 hours a week where content ideas are being served to you on a platter.
Here’s what I mean.
Your clients are asking you questions all the time. They’re bringing their problems to you. They’re seeking you out for your advice.
They want to buy a house, so they ask you how much they should put for a down payment. They started their own business last year and now they need to know what type of retirement account to put their extra money into this year.
All of the conversations you have with clients are opportunities for content (don’t ever forget—conversations are your content).
I guarantee that the client in your office is not the only one thinking about the question they asked you.
So when a meeting is done, pop open Voice Memos or your favorite video app on your iPhone and record a quick five-minute track of what you discussed, the solution you gave, and what else people need to think about when they’re faced with that situation.
If you’re going to release yourself talking about it online, generalize the discussion and obviously don’t talk about the client by name. (And, duh, run it by compliance first.)
It’s as simple as that.
The next hot content tip is to Interview.
Yes, it’s exactly what it sounds like. There’s no tricks here, only treats.
This tip is super easy if you want to reach to other professionals (like what Justin Castelli and Taylor Schulte are doing with the Advisor Growth Community—check it out if you haven’t already). In that case, bring another advisor onto your podcast or blog and have them talk about their life and challenges. There is tremendous value in peer advice and community. Don’t undersell it.
But what if you aren’t in a situation where you’re providing services to other advisors? You probably don’t want to bring a client in because of those pesky testimonial rules.
There are other ways you can leverage interviews. They work best when you have a specific client niche.
Reminder: Pre-retiree with $500,000 of investable assets is not a niche.
But let’s say you work closely with Boeing employees. Boeing has more than 150,000 so it’s a pretty sizable and unique market. Or maybe you’re into tech entrepreneurs in the Bay Area.
In either case, there are people who your niche cares about hearing from that you can talk to and include in your marketing communications.
It can be as simple as getting an accountant to partner with you and talk about tax considerations for tech entrepreneurs in the Bay Area. You’re not directly speaking to your services in this case, but you are providing value to the clients you care about. And providing value is what you should be doing, always.
I recently attended the Fearless Investing Summit in Boston and the first keynote speaker, Jon Acuff, dropped this Free Jewelry (thanks Tyrone Ross for the term):
“Care about what the people you care about care about.”
Bringing in guests is not only for podcasts. Use the knowledge of others to your advantage.
Here’s something I’ve always thought is super weird about financial services.
For most of its history, investing’s main communication package has been the quarterly newsletter.
The quarterly newsletter says “Hey, check out the quarter that just happened. This is what the markets did, and this is what your portfolio did too. It’s all in the past. By the way, past results in no way indicate future success. Let’s catch up again after the next quarter is over! Happy investing.”
Meanwhile, the actual reason anyone invests is because they have hopes and dreams for the future and they need money for those hopes and dreams to become real.
Financial planning, which is becoming more of a central focus, is all about the future. A plan determines future goals, and then tries to track progress toward those future goals.
So, the basic reason for why people invest and the basic method used to communicate about investing are opposites. One looks forward, and one looks backward.
It doesn’t make sense to me.
So what you can do is align your communication with where your clients’ eyes are and look forward.
Obviously I am not telling you to predict the markets. That would be dumb and as we have already established, guaranteeing future results is not a great look to regulators.
So forget the markets. Look at what the people you care about care about.
Maybe you serve those tech entrepreneurs in the Bay and they’re major Apple enthusiasts. Apple has a couple keynotes every year. Pay attention to what’s going on and let your clients know what product updates you’re most excited for and how they might change how you work with them (group Facetime doesn’t just have to be for grandma and grandpa).
As with all good content, it all comes back to the people you serve.
Empathetic marketing means that you figure out what your clients care about and then speak to that. From there, you can give your take based on your own experiences. That’s where the authenticity comes in.
Your content doesn’t always have to be about investing. Use these three techniques to add some variety.
If you start by thinking about content within this narrow framework, I think you’ll find it’s easier to come up with ideas and it’s easier to keep going.
No one likes looking at a blank page. When you start here, you never will.
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