Let’s begin with a scenario…
Somewhere in California there is a woman, let’s call her Cindy, approaching retirement. Cindy, who is roughly 59 years of age, is an accountant and the bookkeeper for her family’s financials. Cindy and her family have around $1M saved for retirement. They work with a local Advisor and have their money primarily in a few 401(k)s and individual investment accounts. As Cindy approaches retirement, she’s continued to ask herself, her advisor, and her husband “are there any big moves I need to think about from an investing perspective as I get closer to retirement?” While she’s not ready to have an in-depth conversation about it, she’d like to begin doing her own research, so she calls her Advisor to see if he/she has any research to help get her up to speed on the situation. Her Advisor, because they’ve developed the right content process, has the perfect piece that gives her the 5 big things she should think about. Three months later, Cindy comes into her Advisor’s office to dive into the moves she’s making. This, in result, creates an even stronger bond between Cindy and her Advisor. So strong in fact, she refers her two best friends to her Advisor. All because they had the valuable content ready to go.
In today’s day and age, it’s clear that content marketing can help grow your business. The right content, at the right time, can attract new prospects and deepen relationships with current customers. But, when it comes to identifying what to write or talk about, where do you start? How do you figure out what content you and your team should be developing? Below we list out a step by step guide.
Reverse engineer your customer
The best way to determine what content you should be developing is by leading with your customer rather than your point of view. Too often businesses create content that appeases them instead of speaking directly to their customers’ needs. The best way to reverse engineer your customer is to sit down and interview them around their wants, needs, and habits. Now, you likely do something like this on a quarterly basis; but the goal is to figure out what resonates form a content perspective. A few key questions to ask include:
- What are your biggest financial challenges at the moment? How do they make you feel?
- What are some topics that you feel you need to become more versed in?
- What is your decision-making process when making financial decisions? Who’s involved?
- How do you prefer to consume information? What type of content do you generally read day-to-day?
- Where do you feel we’ve provided the most value? Where do you think we could improve?
Getting these answers documented will allow you to uncover themes and specific topics that you can address via content. For example, if a client’s biggest challenge is being able to monitor their spending across accounts, then you could build a step-by-step guide on how to monitor spending. Interviewing multiple clients and asking them the same set of questions will allow you to drill down into their core wants, needs, and challenges in a scalable manner.
Create buckets and themes across client sets
Getting the interviews documented will allow you to see where the common themes are across clients, which leads into the second step – synthesizing the topics into buckets. Listen, we get it, you have limited time and resources, so writing one piece for one individual client doesn’t make a lot of sense. That’s why, when documenting the answers from your interviews, you’ll want to identify common themes across interviewees. If you’re seeing that a lot of your clients are struggling with retirement specific challenges, then it’s probably a good idea to create content around retirement. This will also allow you to create pieces that appeal to multiple readers and scale your value to not only clients, but prospects as well!
Use this information to create broad bucket themes that can hold a number of sub-topics. A broad bucket theme, for example, could be retirement income. Within retirement income, you could have a number of different topics including spending habits in retirement, changing investment allocations in retirement, and more. Document, synthesize, extract – the key to topic identification.
Get feedback on your content
Say you’ve interviewed 30 clients, identified the topics, and even developed and distributed 10-15 pieces of content over the course of a few months. So, what’s next? This is where client feedback and data have a big impact on your marketing program. If you want to understand what is working and what is not, it’s best to ask your clients directly while also looking at the data. Did the retirement piece you sent them last week resonate and provide answers they were looking for? If not, what was missing? Did you see good engagement from it when looking at your data analytics? This constant feedback loop will allow you to evolve when creating new content. It will also allow you to provide deeper value for clients on an ongoing basis.
As always, remember to check with your in-house compliance teams to understand what you can and cannot say in marketing communications. You can also visit the FINRA website for guidelines on the reasonable use of digital communication or The Financial Planner Board of Standards for a free guide.
If you want to read more on how to leverage content marketing for your business, see our 5 ways content marketing can grow your business piece.