The true opportunities and challenges for any business today lie in the creation of useful content. This may sound like one of those vague concepts that the people in your marketing department like to come up with.
Useful content generation is becoming one of the most important activities in any company? Without great content, your marketing and social media efforts won't take you very far.
This is especially true for the financial industry which has only begun to embrace social media as a communication channel.
There is only one problem:
The financial services sector is a highly regulated industry. Strict rules have been set out regarding financial promotions to protect investors from misleading and abusive investment propositions. That is why many financial institutions still see the social media space as a minefield littered with accidents waiting to happen.
The failure to generate good content is the main reason, for most financial service providers, the social media journey ends before it even begins. Many simply end up feeling they have very little to say beyond the obvious product placement message.
What I will briefly cover in this post is how to create a system that generates compelling content that is both relevant, complaint with regulations and results in making a more meaningful connection with a financial services firm's target audience.
In the end, running a content marketing strategy only makes sense if it brings results. The desired outcome for most businesses will probably look as follows:
- Brand - strengthening the value proposition
- Inbound marketing - attracting target clients
- Client retention - long-term relationship based on understanding and trust.
Let's now have a look at how to generate an ongoing stream of useful and interesting content. To make this exercise more practical, let's imagine you are a fund manager.
In order for the messages to be compliant for public consumption, all the information that is considered as a direct financial promotion needs to be stripped away. This means that there can be no mentions of products in any way, the manager's performance or any direct investment advice.
Many managers will find this a barren place to start from but this exercise in itself will help define the essence of what the fund manager's activities are all about. It provides more space to speak about the underlying philosophy of the investment strategy.
Let your clients come to you.
People invest in the things they like and understand. In the real world this is not always the case because many investors also chase past performance. But as a fund manager, your preference will always go to having the type of investors that chose you for more fundamental reasons. This means you need to find a way to connect with the kind of investors who are genuinely interested in the same things that you invest in.
A great content marketing strategy will help those investors find you.
This probably already made sense to you before you started reading this post. However, I am sure you have seen many managers barking up the wrong trees by trying to convince investors who don't share their views.
The way to build a community of investors with kindred minds is to become a knowledge beacon within your category. Managers are supposed to be experts in their respective fields that make well researched decisions. This research can yield enormous amounts of useful content. If you can trim it down to the essentials and convey it in pedestrian language, your message can go a very long way. We will cover how to do this in more detail in the next chapter about how to sharpen your message.
The most cost efficient way to educate investors
Useful and relevant content also provides a great opportunity to educate people about the themes that drive your investment strategy. This gives you a chance to become a mentor with regards to the subject. This is what you want to become because people keep a special place for their mentors.
Before we had blogs and social media, I spent enormous amounts of time educating investors in person about new asset classes. While this is very important, a manager's business model is not built to monetize this considerable investment in time and resources. In reality, no matter how you look at it, most of the investors got away with free tuition.
Today there is another way. I you have a great content strategy and open social media channels, your educational efforts become enormously scalable and very cost-efficient. It simply frees up more time to focus on writing more business.
A personal touch
Movies are always about characters, biographies are still being sold by the millions and gossip is still the favorite content category consumed by millions. In essence, we are curious beings and we are mostly interested in other people's stories.
Adding personal stories to your content will work as a multiplier on your efforts to engage readers. You could share your personal experiences as if it were a diary that is shared with others. A personal touch will deepen your relationship with your audience.
Just compare the following paragraphs:
'Our research indicates that the pharmaceutical sector is set to benefit from a demographic trend that is characterized by an increase of 'baby-boomers' entering retirement age...'
'Someone at one of the leading pharmaceuticals told me something that really made me think. He was explaining to me how they were getting ready to cope with the growing demand of the baby-boomers...'
Honestly, which paragraph did you enjoy reading the most?
A bit humor, as long as it is appropriate, also goes a long way.
Media coverage on autopilot
Last but not least, if you message is apt for all kinds of investors, it will certainly be fine for syndication by the media. If your content truly adds value, you can be sure that a large part of you audience will be people from the media. They are always looking for stories and sources. Being quoted in the media is a good thing, it is often the best form of advertising.
In the end it is all about extracting the stories that define and drive your value proposition. This type of content will eventually resonate with the right customers for your business.
Admittedly, the above is very high level but over then next few weeks I will be writing a series of posts in which I share more ideas in detail for how financial services businesses can design and execute successful content marketing strategies.
Stay tuned for the next chapter about how to sharpen your message.