You are your brand. Your brand is you. You may never think that this is a top business priority as a financial advisor, but your clients – current and prospective – crave insightful information. If you provide this to them on your website, in addition to meetings, you will give yourself an edge against the competition. Think of this part of your practice as a chance to elevate relationships by becoming a financial educator, in addition to all of your other roles.
The Path to Thought Leadership
Thought leaders on Wall Street or elsewhere rarely arise overnight. It takes time, and effort, to develop your message and to connect with your audience in a meaningful way. There is some trial and error, but you can do this. Focus on key issues in your practice that keep arising again and again. Share your thoughts on the struggles that are facing clients. Discuss how to address “pain points” in their lives.
Of course, your website acts as your main branding platform and portal into your world. Your website should be managed like an investment portfolio. You must organize the site so that it makes sense, and covers key issues that are important to your business and to the lives of your clients. Update the content on a regular basis to reflect key issues in the market and economy, and connect everything back to the clients. People want information that they can use to make better decisions – which is always hard to find. If you provide that to people, you have really achieved something meaningful.
But if you let your website languish, and you resist the effort to provide fresh, compelling, thought-provoking content then your website is little 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. A great fact about websites is that they live 24/7. Even as you sleep, or focus on something else, information-rich content works for you, and helps you fill your sales pipeline while making existing clients feel that you are as invested in them as they are in you.
You Need a Blog
As we said, you need a strategy for your website. Somewhere prominently you need to create a blog where you can share thoughts and insights. Rather than calling your blog a “blog,” punch up the description and call it something like “Insights” or “Perspectives.” Highlight blog posts on the homepage of your website. Try to entice clients to click through links to spend more time learning what you have to share with them. Use some keywords so the search engines that organize the Internet’s content can find your site.Influence + Credibility = Thought Leadership Click To Tweet
Social Media for Building Influence
A blog is just the first step in creating an ecosystem of content and clients. Think of your blog as your traffic hub at the center of a “cobweb” of other content portals, such as your social media sites. Create accounts on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites. At any given time, there is a massive, robust conversation occurring about markets on Twitter, and loads of information is shared on LinkedIn, which is popular with financial advisors. Facebook is more of a place to share personal information but many people invariably share information they think will help people.
Remember, you want your content to create a community of people with similar interests. An ecosystem is valuable and you can build and expand it, and it will pay you dividends.
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, it is imperative that you be well-prepared and well-practiced. Staying on message is key. Know what you want to say and say it. Write down three of four key points on an interview preparation sheet and stick with them. Be prepared for questions you might not expect. Be authentic. It matters.
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 through 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 thought leader, they will take the call. They may even may beat you to it and call your first.