Day in and day out, I read articles and blog posts zealously persuading advisors that the key to successful content marketing is “telling your story.”In reality, this isn’t entirely incorrect. When done properly, storytelling can be a fantastic way to engage readers, build trust, and nurture the advisor/advisee relationship; the problem is that very few of these articles provide any guidance on effective execution. As a result, storytelling in business blogging continues to be grossly misunderstood.
First, Shift Your Perspective
Storytelling is not an exercise in vanity. It’s not the practice of rehashing our C.V. every chance we get. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.As entrepreneurs and financial advisors, we are in the business of selling (a) our services, (b) ourselves, and (c) our firm. We spend so many hours building brand awareness and educating prospects about what we offer, that when we are told to add a storytelling element to our marketing content, our first inclination is to talk about our services, ourselves, and our firm. Sounds reasonable enough. But that’s exactly the problem.When we are producing content whose purpose is to convert prospects into clients
, we’ve got to shift our perspective in the opposite direction—in the direction of the reader.
Paint Pictures that Illustrate Your Value
At the heart of it, the most important thing to remember is that the story you’re going to tell isn’t for you or even about you. The story is both for and about your audience.Let’s start with a non-advisor related example to clarify: a barbecue grill commercial. What is the first thing that comes to your mind when I mention a television commercial whose purpose is to sell barbecue grills? Families and friends of all ages spending time in the backyard? Laughing children doing cannonballs into the pool? A pleasant young man, spatula in hand, donning his “King of the Grill” apron as his attractive young spouse plants a peck on his cheek?If you notice, the grill commercial is hardly about the actual grill. Rather, it is about painting the picture of what your life could be like if you owned that grill. The selling points aren’t how much the grill weighs or how sturdy the grilling plates are, they’re community, family, love, relaxation, youth, energy, and fun. The psychology is “You, too, could enjoy all this if only you owned this grill.” That’s storytelling at its finest.Now I know you aren’t selling grills. You’re selling financial services. But in similar fashion, your story should illustrate the value your financial services add to your clients’ lives. How will a prospect's life be better with you in it?Let’s take financial freedom in retirement as a prime example. Imagine what financial freedom looks like, feels like. What do retired people enjoy doing when they don’t stress about outliving their savings? Do they spend time with family and friends? Travel? Relax? Take up fencing? Whatever you think it is, show it. Make it palpable.Depict the real-life benefits of what you can help them achieve.Related: Turn up the Heat on Your Content
I am certainly not recommending you write your next blog post on great vacation spots in Tahiti because you want to portray that financial freedom can allow you to take lavish trips.Effective storytelling is subtle. The story must be tactfully and seamlessly woven into the fabric of the content you are already writing and supported with enticing visual media.· Website Content: Start by evaluating your website as it sits today. Ask yourself, is my website all about me and the services I offer, or does it reflect the value I add to my clients' lives? It’s important to have a balance of both.· Blog Posts: Blogs are published to inform and educate, but also to convert. The storytelling element of a blog post is the conversion tool, but won't normally be more than a handful of sentences peppered throughout the piece or added at the end right before the CTA (call to action).· Visual Media: Images are just as much a part of the story as the words you write, so choose them wisely. Do they portray the value you add? Or are they just fillers? Never underestimate the power of a warm, inviting photo to motivate someone to read your verbal content. Conversely, never underestimate the power of lackluster images to drive someone away.Your words and visual media should complement one another to invite the readers in and trigger them to envision their lives with you in it.However, if you’d rather focus on re-balancing portfolios, onboarding new clients, and building comprehensive financial plans
, you’re in luck. For most advisors, outsourcing content writing and marketing needs allows them to be better advisors to their clients. Instead of stressing about finding the time to implement a marketing plan, outsource it!