You're listening to “Financial Advisor Marketing”—the best show on the planet for financial advisors who want to get more clients, without all the stress. You're about to get the real scoop on everything from lead generation to closing the deal.
James is the founder of TheAdvisorCoach.com, where you can find an entire suite of products designed to help financial advisors grow their businesses more rapidly than ever before. Now, here is your host, James Pollard.
James: Hey, financial advisors. Hope you're doing well. I want to start this episode by expressing my gratitude for you. I appreciate you. I'm thankful that you exist and I'm happy I get to do what I love for a living, which is help financial advisors.
In the past few months, a lot of people have subscribed to the Inner Circle Newsletter and I'm thankful for that, too. It's nice to see advisors jump right in and get serious right away. There's really no need to mess around, because with a monthly paper-and-ink newsletter, every month represents hefty opportunity costs. That's a missed month of implementation. It's a month of information you're not getting. It's a month of marketing strategies you are not getting, and it just adds up over time. [01:13.0]
So, thank you, thank you, thank you, for everyone who has subscribed to it. There has been an influx of new subscribers and that's awesome, an influx of people who are listening to this podcast. So, thank you, thank you, thank you again.
This week's episode is going to be about blogging and I'm going to share some lessons I’ve learned from building the blog over at TheAdvisorCoach.com/blog. You can see it yourself and you can see that I actually have a blog. I'm not just telling you what I think is cool or some theory. I really do this. I don't think I’ve done a blogging-specific episode yet. If I have, I know I haven't shared my process. Either way, this will be new information.
By the way, just like I said, if you want to see the blog, go to TheAdvisorCoach.com/blog. I want you to note these aren't skimpy little 500-word articles either. One of the things I’ve learned is that it's better to have one in-depth blog post than 10 surface-level ones. [02:06.5]
This is for a multitude of reasons, such as the fact that it increases your time on page, but also because it's more helpful for the reader and it's more helpful for someone who is searching for a solution—because if someone is searching for a solution, why not give that person more detail instead of less?
They also might look simple and that's because they are simple. I don't need to make my blog posts complicated to make them effective. If you've been a long-time listener, you know that simplicity is highly valued around these parts. There's no need to make things more complicated than necessary, but here we go. This is my process.
The first thing I'm going to talk about is beginning with the end in mind. This idea became famous because of Stephen Covey in his The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People book. It's something that successful entrepreneurs have been doing for years, and, as a marketer, you should begin all marketing campaigns with the end in mind, and it should be more specific than set appointments or get clients. [03:04.6]
For example, if you're running an online advertising campaign, your goal could be to set three extra appointments per month for an average cost of $250 per appointment or less. That is a clear target, not “get more clients.” That is the end, so the means are going to accomplish the end, and if the end is set at three appointments a month at $250 or less, then that is where you're going.
The reason you want to begin with the end in mind when writing a blog post is because the end will dictate how you create the blog post itself. For example, content written for your website should be written with search engines in mind. I don't care what anybody says or, like, Oh, you should write for humans. Yes, that's true, but you should also write for search engines. You should be able to write for either, where it's not mutually exclusive, okay? You're not writing for either search engines or either human beings. You should write for human beings, but also have the search in mind, all right? That's pretty basic stuff. This is fifth-level or fifth-grade level stuff. [04:01.0]
If you're writing about a general topic and keywords aren't that important, meaning, you're not going to write for a search engine, then you should write for social media or LinkedIn. That sounds super vague, so I'll give you a specific example from The Advisor Coach.
On my website, I have blog titles, like, What Is a Good Marketing Budget for Financial Advisors? That article is written for financial advisors who are searching for information about marketing budgets. But on LinkedIn, I have an article titled, Why I Blacklist Junky Financial Advisors, which talks about why I blacklist financial advisors who cancel their Inner Circle Newsletter subscription.
If you want to know why, it's because these people are typically information junkies who need to get their fixed by chasing bright, shiny objects, and I do not allow them to resubscribe, especially because the newsletter itself is a commitment and, when you join, you should be mentally prepared to stay until your career is finished. Yes, until your career is finished. But the reason the title is so different, Why I Blacklist Junkie Financial Advisors, is because it's not written for search, and since it's not written for search, I put it on LinkedIn where it can afford to be a little more clickbaity. [05:08.6]
Another way you can begin with the end of mind is by getting crystal clear on your audience and exactly where these people are in their financial journeys, really, but I was going to say journeys, but for financial advisors, it would be financial journeys.
This is something I think is unique to financial advisors because when people search for financial advice online, they are typically coming from a wide variety of starting points. Some people could be business owners who have a $10-million business. Others could be entry level workers who want to maximize their first, quote-unquote, “real job.” Other people could be in the middle of their careers, realizing that they need to get serious about this whole retirement thing.
The most effective content is content that speaks to a specific person, so don't be afraid to write for a specific person. Again, you're beginning with the end in mind. If the end goal is to have an appointment with a specific type of person who is in your niche, then you should probably write content for that specific type of person. Okay, again, this is fifth-grade stuff. [06:08.2]
I personally think the idea of an avatar is a little cheesy, but I do agree here that it can be helpful. When you're writing your blog, go ahead and picture a real person, not some imaginary figure, or not an imaginary figure, just like a nameless faceless entity. Don't do that. Actually, picture someone real.
For instance, you can write to Bob who is a 46-year-old corporate executive with two children in high school. He's thankful to be earning the most money he's ever made, but he also knows he has obligations to fulfill, such as college for his kids and retirement for himself and his wife. He knows he can't keep working at such a frenetic pace forever. He needs a little help, so he can eventually make work optional. When he gets to that work-optional phase of his life, what does he want to do? He wants to travel the world with his spouse.
That is who you're writing for, not some nameless faceless entity. You're not writing to the masses, okay? You're writing to Bob. Bob is the 46-year-old, the whole thing. I just went through the whole deal. That is who you're writing for, okay? [07:07.3]
Now, moving on, the next step in my process that I would recommend to people who want to write better blog posts is to write about high-intent topics, and I can tell that someone is an amateur content marketer, if that person says he or she writes for traffic. Having more traffic be the goal is dumb. Something like healthy smoothie recipes gets a lot of traffic, but why would financial advisors waste your time writing about an unrelated topic?
Getting traffic is easy. If you have a credit card, then you can get traffic with Facebook ads. I could run Facebook ads tomorrow in places like India and Bangladesh and Pakistan. I could get 1,000 clicks to my website for a couple bucks, but do I want to do it? No, because they're not qualified traffic. It's not qualified traffic, so I would not want to do it.
Now, what do I mean by high-intent traffic? These are visitors who are more likely than the general population to do business with you. Something like “Sony” is a general keyword. People searching Sony could be looking for a job at Sony, looking for Sony's stock price—if Sony is a public company, I'm pretty sure it is—or looking for a Sony camera. [08:17.2]
But something like “Sony Smart TV for sale” is a high-intent keyword. If I'm in the business of selling smart TVs, then I would rather write about that instead of something general. Someone who is searching Sony smart TVs for sale is going to be more valuable to me on average than someone who is just searching Sony.
If you're going to get into the content game, you're going to create multiple pieces of content anyway. You should create multiple blog posts about high-intent topics and get a large amount of aggregate traffic. You don't need a lot of traffic that doesn't convert. I would rather have 100 visitors and 10 conversions than 1,000 visitors and five conversions. But guess what? You can have the small-traffic article, like one article that only gets maybe, let's just say, 100 visitors a month, and you write another one, and you write another one and you write another one, and, eventually, you have a machine that is just giving you nothing but qualified traffic that comes to you searching for a high-intent topic. [09:16.6]
I'll give you a good idea of what I consider to be a high-intent topic and that is “How much money should I have saved by age 40?” If you type in, and you can do this with me—if you're listening on your phone, you bring up your little Safari browser, Firefox or whatever you use, and type in—go to Google.com first because it has to be a Google search, “how much should I have saved”, put that into Google and let autocomplete do its thing, and you will see that people ask how much they should have saved by age 40, by age 45, by age 60, at 25 to buy a house for retirement age at age 50, I could go on.
Don’t you think that these people are kinda sorta interested in retirement planning? Hmm, it seems as if these people are searching for advice about their finances. Wait a minute, wait a minute, isn't there a profession built around giving financial advice? Do you know anyone who gives financial advice? Hmm. [10:13.5]
If you type in “retirement planning for” and let autocomplete show you what people are searching, you'll see retirement planning for small business owners, childless couples, teachers, married couples, and young adults. The same groups come up if you type in “financial planning for”. If you're someone out there who is against choosing a niche, you should write a long in-depth blog post about each of these groups and try to rank in Google.
There you go. That's worth a lot of money, so there you go, literally these topics, childless couples, teachers, married couples, young adults, small business owners, and try to rank in Google. There you go. The cool part about this strategy is that you could take the similar parts and you could interchange them in each article, so you could get more mileage from the same content.
Also, a lot of financial advisors are stuck on square one with the “financial advisor near me” search. Yes, okay, I get it, local searches are important, but you should expand your horizons at some point and that is done through effective content. [11:11.2]
Hey, financial advisors. If you'd like even more help building your business, I invite you to subscribe to James' monthly paper-and-ink newsletter, “The James Pollard Inner Circle”. When you join today, you'll get more than $1,000 worth of bonuses, including exclusive interviews that aren't available anywhere else. Head on over to TheAdvisorCoach.com/coaching to learn more.
Next tip: outlines or your friend. I've always loved writing as a child. I wrote short stories. I won a few essay contests in school. I got great grades on my writing all the way up to college, but I never outlined. Sure, there were a couple classes in elementary school and middle school where outlines were required, but aside from that, if they weren't required, I didn't do them. I've always had the gift of being able to sit down and just let the words flow out of me, and I recognize that not everyone has that gift. However, I discovered that acting as if I didn't have that gift at all helped me write even better, because I began outlining. [12:14.5]
Outlining helps you organize your ideas so they flow naturally. Plus, outlining makes you cognizant of what you want to cover and make sure that you cover everything. You can write all the sections out and you can go back to fill them in. Outlining also helps you get a better order of your content. Once you've done your outline, you can look at it and see if anything's out of place. It's a lot easier to shift paragraphs around in an outline than in a rough draft.
Generally speaking, there are two types of outlines. There are keyword outlines and sentence outlines. Keyword outlines are when you have different sections and one or two words for each section. If you're writing about how much money you should have saved by age 40, a section could be retirement accounts, and then your subsections could be IRA, 401(k), taxable account, and so on. They’re just one or two words per section. [13:08.2]
Under 401(k), you could talk about tax-deferred or that would be the word there. For IRA, it could be tax-free or tax-free growth. The sentence outline is typically—not typically, but always is—more detailed because you're going to write out full descriptions.
I personally use sentence outlines, because I write a lot and I want to make sure I remember my thoughts, if I come back to get an outline a month or two later, and if I have one or two words and that's it, sometimes I don't remember what my exact idea was or the intent of the original outline.
Sentence outlines also helped me a lot with my Inner Circle Newsletter, because the newsletter is written in a way where I might begin a topic this month and then continue it in two months. I want to know where I left off without reading the entire newsletter.
I’ve found this type of writing style, where financial advisors can get a refresher or some continuity of a topic, really helps them achieve mastery, because they might not get everything in July, but when I come back in September and continue with the topic and I say, “Hey, do you remember how in July I talked about this thing? I want to tell you a little bit more about that thing,” then it just helps them achieve that mastery. [14:17.3]
The next tip is to choose images carefully in your blog post, but don't get married to them, and the reason I say don't get married to your images is because you'll probably end up changing them. If you're not tracking your metrics like time on page, bounce rates, clicks, etc., then you should start doing that.
When you track your metrics, you'll notice that as you change your images, your metrics will change. In my case, I take a bunch of different images and I use them in online ads. Then I will take the winner and I’ll put it at the top of my article, because I want it to match the ad sent. The ad sent is essentially matching what the ad looks like to what the landing page looks like.
It's like the pepperoni pizza rule. If you're promising pen pepperoni pizza, give the people pepperoni pizza. The highest conversion rates come from when people see the exact same image in your article as they do in your ad, which is why it helps to have it as the first image they see. That way they land on the article and know they're in the right place. There is no confusion. [15:16.7]
The captions on your images also matter a lot. Different studies have found that the captions are the second most read part of a sales letter and I’ve found the basic idea to also be true with articles.
Another little tidbit I want to give you about images is that you should put an outline around your images. Your mileage may vary. This might not work for you, but it works very well for me. I personally do it because I noticed a nice little bump in metrics and now I do it with all of my images. Okay? So, you put a little outline around it.
Next, I want to give you what I consider to be an advanced tip. It's something that I don't see done very often, but it can make a massive difference in your marketing, and that is to seed your content with authority. These are little sentences that build trust and credibility. [16:00.2]
As your reader is going through your content, he or she should begin to learn things about you, maybe that you work with more than two dozen millennials, maybe that you've been featured on a podcast, maybe that you have a podcast, maybe that you've been featured in other niche-specific publications. Whatever the case, you want to drop these little nuggets of credibility throughout your content.
These sentences can make a big impact on your conversion rates because they get people to stop and pay attention. Plus, it primes people to trust you and to take action eventually or eventually take action, which is going to be something like setting an appointment or joining your email list.
It might sound too simple, but a way to do this is to introduce yourself at the beginning of your blog post. For example, I have a blog article called 50 Things I Wish Financial Advisors Knew About Marketing. You can find it by going to TheAdvisorCoach.com/advisor-marketing, so “the advisor coach [dot] com [slash] advisor [hyphen] marketing”, and here it is verbatim. This is what I say at the beginning of that article. [17:01.5]
“Hey, financial advisors…
If you don’t know me, my name is James Pollard. I’m the founder of this website (TheAdvisorCoach.com) and the host of the Financial Advisor Marketing podcast.”
There's a link to the podcast.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to help tens of thousands of financial advisors get more clients, and here are some things I wish advisors knew about marketing…”
Could I have started the article a different way? Yes. Could I have jumped right into the content? Yes. But I chose to put those sentences in there to demonstrate authority, and when people click on the link—you don't have to have a link, but I have a link, and when people click on the Financial Advisor Marketing podcast link, they're taken to a page where they can see I have dozens and dozens and dozens and dozens and dozens of podcast episodes. They can see some feedback that people have left. They can go to other parts of the website. They can basically learn more about me.
Now, of course, this means you need to have some authority. You can't just make stuff up. I actually do have this podcast. You're listening to it right now. I really have helped tens of thousands of financial advisors to get more clients. Heck, I even have money back guarantees on a lot of stuff, because if I can't get results for people, I don't deserve to keep their money. Inserting sentences like that gets people to perk up, pay attention, and visualize who you are and how you help. [18:16.7]
It looks like I'm coming up on over 17 minutes now, so I want to wrap up this podcast soon, but I want to give you three more tips, okay? I want to tell you that it's important for you to link to other pieces of content. This is one reason why, if you're going to write blog posts, you should write a bunch of them. You should really commit, because linking them together not only improves your SEO—it's called internal linking, and you can google that. You can say, “benefits of an internal linking”—but it creates more engagement with your reader.
At the end of the day, your reader is the most important person on your website, because you're creating content for your readers, for people to interact with you. When they're going through a blog post and you have a sentence, like, “You can learn more about this by clicking here,” and you have a link to another article, or you say, “If you're interested in learning more about IRAs, specifically, since you're learning about how much money you should have saved by age 40, then click this link her,” and you take them to a page about IRAs. [19:13.7]
I have an entire product called the Client-Getting Website and it outlines the basic structure of a good website, and it's, basically, linking together your Home, your About Us, and your Contact pages. The reason that's important is because even as people bounce around your website, so you're basically keeping them on your website for a longer period of time, what happens is they will go to your homepage, your About Us page, your Contact page, or some version of that.
They might go to About Us and then go to Home, or they might go to the Contact page and then not want to contact you right away, so they learn more about you at the About Us page, but the longer you can keep people on your website, generally speaking, the better chances you have of them getting to that structure. [19:58.4]
The next tip I want to give you is to lead to an email list. Oh my, oh my, oh my goodness, email marketing is so gosh darn effective, I can't believe that people don't do it. I'm not going to harp about email marketing. I have entire podcast episodes about it. I have a blog post about it. I don't remember the link. I think it's TheAdvisorCoach.com/email or emails.
One of them is the page for Appointments on Autopilot. The other one is the blog post. You can try “TheAdvisorCoach.com/email”, and then “TheAdvisorCoach.com/emails” with an “S”, and it is just going to knock your socks off.
Then the last tip I have for you is that you should have a plan for distributing your content, because creation, really, it's only half the battle, and it blows my mind that people will spend all this time to create content—and their articles look great. They have good headlines, good images, good captions, good subheads. They've got good content. Nice little outline. It’s obvious that it took them a lot of time to create this beautiful, well-thought-out content—but they don't distribute it. [21:01.6]
You could do social media. You could do online ads. You could do email marketing. I mean, the opportunities available for you to distribute your content, especially with something like the internet, is just incredible. So, don’t spend a lot of time creating all this content and making it wonderful, without having a plan to get it in front of your target audience.
With that said, I will catch you next week.
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