Written by: Zach McDonald
Looking back on 2016… well, let’s not bother with that. It was a tough year for many, but it had its redeeming qualities. Let’s look ahead to 2017.
This year holds a lot of promise for the advisory industry, but it also holds a lot of unknowns – the DOL fiduciary rule, a new president who has said he wants to draw back government regulation, Brexit is supposed to kick in by the end of March, increasingly unstable international markets, and much more.
Your relationships with clients and prospects need to be strong to weather such potential storms. Building that relationship is a matter of regular communication. While much of your existing clientele communicates with you via phone, in-office visits, and email, the majority of the population is acquainting itself with new advisors online these days – specifically via blogs.
Here are six reasons 2017 is the year to start putting your firm’s blog to work:
1. It’s the fastest, easiest way to dispel client fears in a year packed with unknowns
So far (knock on wood), the markets are off to a better start than they were last year. But who knows what tomorrow brings?
When the market inevitably hits a rough patch this year, most advisors could basically turn over the hourglass to count down to when their more anxious clients will contact them. Often it’s the same people calling with the same questions.
Should we sell? Do you think it’ll get worse? Is now a good time to buy?
If you’re an evidence-based advisor, your answers will pretty much always stay the same. If you use more of an active approach to portfolio management, your answers may vary, but your investment philosophy remains the same.
Either way, your clients want your input, which means you’re going to spend a lot of your day writing emails and answering calls. If you blogged regularly, you could save yourself some of that time spent answering the same old questions over and over.
One of the great side effects of blogging is that you always have a ready-made answer to send your clients as soon as the bear market rears its ugly, unavoidable head.
Old blogs can be sent out right away when market news goes south. While you’re working on a response to the current situation, shoot your clients a quick email outlining the latest market drama along with a line that says, “While I’m working on writing our response to this situation, here’s a link to a blog I wrote last year that I think largely applies to what’s going on here.”
Let clients know they can still call you if they have any questions, but you ask that they read your blog post first as it may answer some or all of their concerns. You’ll be surprised how few people still feel the need to call. By emailing them right away, they’ll feel like they have an advisor who has the situation under control and their best interests in mind.
2. Last year, Google acknowledged that content is king when it comes to search rankings
Google uses a lot of factors to decide where websites will rank in their search results. While no one outside of Google fully understands all of their factors for sure, Backlinko offers a pretty convincing argument that there are about 200 of them.
On Backlinko’s list – and several others – regular site updates play a substantial role. And they’re not just talking about changing some dates on your About Us page.
While Google’s factors are largely a mystery, just last year they said themselves that new content is one of the top measurements they use (along with links, which I’ll get to in a second). Now that Google has confirmed it, there’s no excuse for not participating in the great content race.
The easiest way to regularly add new content to your site? You guessed it: blogging.
Google has also said that links are super important to their bots. That includes outbound and inbound links. Here’s a quick primer in case those terms are foreign to you.
Outbound links are links to other sites from your own site. We’ve met a lot of advisors who struggle with this idea. “Why would I want to point one of my readers to another site?”
One of the main reasons is because Google says so. See, Google isn’t the official lawmaker of the internet, but they’re certainly its informal arbiter. They strongly believe in fairness and give and take, which is why they like to reward people who play nice by linking to other sites. If you choose not to link to other sites, that’s your choice, but it will be counted against you.
I know, it seems counterintuitive in the short term, but it will make Google’s countenance smile upon you, which can only mean good things in the long term.
The best and easiest place to include outbound links on your site? You better believe it’s on your blog. Your best bet is to try to include one to three outbound links in every piece you write.
Inbound links are links to your site from other sites. These are more difficult to generate than outbound links because they require someone else to link to you. There are all sorts of ways to partner with others to get them to link to your site, but that’s an article for another day.
I’ll just point out that few if any people will ever link to your “About Us” or “Services” page. Most links between sites point to one place: blogs.
3. It’s a great way to build trust with prospects (fiduciary rule change or not)
If everything goes through with the DOL’s upcoming fiduciary rule change, a lot of advisors will no longer be able to point to their fiduciary status as a differentiator. When everyone is held to the same standard, it’s harder to be noticed for being a straight-shooter. How can you convince prospects that you deserve to be trusted with their life savings/children’s college fund/retirement?
Even if Trump follows through with axing the new rule as he’s hinted he will, blogging will still go a long way in establishing your reputation as a trustworthy individual.
One of the most difficult parts of trying to turn a prospect into a client is establishing trust. If a cold prospect walks into your office, they might hear you out, but they probably won’t commit to you on the spot. And the return rate on cold prospects is not great.
One of the main reason prospects hesitate when it comes to committing to a new advisor is because they want to know they’re hiring someone they can trust who knows their stuff.
The best way to establish trust? Not your blog this time, actually. No matter how far technology advances, talking to a prospect on the phone or, better yet, face to face will always give a clearer picture of your character than any email, blog post, or ebook ever could.
But your blog isn’t too far down on the list of great ways to establish trust with prospects. You don’t have to look far for proof of this. Michael Kitces, Carl Richards, Wade Pfau – I could go on and on listing financial professionals who have established themselves as trustworthy authorities in the advisory world thanks in large part to the fact that they blogged regularly (and, of course, brought a fresh perspective).
4. New leads
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Your website is a lead-generating machine and I believe your blog is the engine. Every time you write a new post, you draw more visitors to your site. When you include a lead magnet in your posts, you generate leads. While the lead magnet actually captures the prospects’ info, the blog is the reason they showed up in the first place.
Blog posts are great because they’re a permanent fixture on your site. If you write a post on tax loss harvesting and then a year later someone is searching for that subject, there’s a good chance they could happen upon your article.
But old blog posts have nothing on new ones. In my experience, a blog post will typically earn 98% of its traffic within the first five days after it’s posted. Beyond that, the numbers may still increase, but not by much.
If you want new leads, the best way to keep them rolling in is by writing new blogs.
What was your new year’s resolution for your firm for 2016? More clients? Increase AUM by 30%? Update your website?
If you’re anything like the 92% of the population I typically fall into, chances are you didn’t hit your goal. The best way to hit any goal is to set aside time to work on it regularly. That means building in some strategizing time to your days.
Think about it. How much time in a day do you spend thinking through your business – your investment philosophy, client relationships, marketing strategy, big picture, etc.?
Thirty minutes? An hour?
That’d be nice, but who has the time to just sit and think, right? Advisors’ days are typically jam-packed with client meetings, office management, reporting, and prospecting. I find the same is true for me.
That’s why I’m trying to blog for at least 15 minutes a day. It doesn’t seem like much time, but when I’ve done it before, it’s been incredibly productive. Sometimes I’ll be strategizing, sometimes I’ll be blogging – not everything I write will go on the blog, but everything I write will be focused on Mineral business.
Some of my best ideas have hit me while I’m in the middle of writing a blog about something else. Taking the time to sit down and think through any concept gets your brain working. When you spend that time thinking about your business, only good things can occur.
6. Stake your claim with your personas
One of the biggest effects of the internet (for better or for worse) is that everyone has a platform now. From the disenfranchised to the overprivileged, everyone is making their voice heard.
In the financial industry, not quite everyone is doing it, but 2016 seems to have brought the number of blogging advisors up considerably. That means countless advisors are out there blogging directly to their desired audience, and if you’re not doing it, then you’re getting left behind.
Imagine if one of your personas was a young professional just starting out who wants to save for their first house. That prospect will be searching for blogs on mortgages, when to buy, financing options, and best saving practices for real estate. You might be the perfect advisor for them, but if someone else has written all those blogs and you haven’t, that other advisor is going to look much better than you are.
You might have all the knowledge in the world, but if you haven’t written it down somewhere in the internet, you might as well not exist.
So make 2017 the year you start blogging and stop missing out on prospects.
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