Written by: Zach McDonald
Since we opened our doors in the summer of 2015, we have published north of 1,000 pieces of content—blogs, web pages, case studies—for advisors across the country.
Throughout the course of publishing those pieces, we have worked with several different types of advisors: some want to oversee every step of the process, some take a laissez-faire approach, and others fall somewhere in between.
Advisors have a high tendency to get stuck in the weeds when blogging. They’ll come up with a good idea, start writing it, and then either give up or spend way too much time on it.
Yes, good content takes time, but if you’re spending six or seven hours on a blog, you’re wasting your own time and money.
I’ve found advisors generally get stuck on blogs for three reasons:
- Wanting to avoid any red flags that could bring down the wrath of the SEC or FINRA
- Wanting to lead clients in the right direction
- Having an inflated idea of the impact of the content
The first two items are valid concerns, but they can be overcome. The third is just a matter of adjusting your perspective.
1. Avoiding Red Flags
Whether you’ve done anything wrong or not, nobody wants to deal with an SEC audit or get on the wrong side of FINRA’s advertising review. It’s time-consuming, exhausting, and stressful.
But if you’ve spent any time in the advising game, you should have a pretty good idea of how to work within the SEC’s guidelines. Speak in general terms, don’t make any promises, temper any potentially promissory phrases with “we believe.” Susan Weiner has a great post laying out the basics of SEC-friendly blogging.
The bottom line is this: Just because there are a lot of rules surrounding what advisors can and can’t say online doesn’t mean you shouldn’t blog. Content marketing has the potential to bring you literally thousands of prospects, and it’s perfectly legal when done correctly.
You definitely need to learn to play by the rules, but don’t let the rules keep you out of the game.
2. Wanting To Lead Clients In The Right Direction
This one tends to be a big roadblock for advisors, and it’s completely understandable. The foundation of an advisor’s job is to give advice, and you want that advice to be good, right?
If you’re doing inbound marketing right, your blog contains free, actionable financial planning and investing advice. Advisors often point to two factors in this area that keep them from blogging:
Custom Investing Solutions
Many advisors offer custom investing solutions that cater to the needs of individual clients. These advisors struggle with blogging because they have a hard time speaking in general terms. They want to make sure they cover everyone, so they’re constantly revising their blog to address a situation they forgot to include in the previous draft.
This is understandable (and admirable), but you’re not going to be able to cover everyone in one blog. Limit each blog to one persona and 1,500 words. That’s more a rule of thumb than a speed limit, so you can occasionally go beyond that word count, but you should do your best to stick to it.
If you don’t, you’re probably writing more than people will ever read and you’re robbing yourself of precious SEO. The more unique blogs you create around a topic, the better you’ll do in search results.
Don’t Want to Give Away Too Much
These advisors definitely want to lead people in the right direction, but they’re also worried that if they give away too much advice for free, either no one will need to hire them or other advisors will steal their secrets.
Both of those things could happen, and at least one of them most likely will. But that shouldn’t keep you from blogging freely.
If you hold your knowledge with an open hand, you’ll attract all kinds of people. Most of them will be legitimate prospects that are looking for what you’re offering. A select few might like your advice and have the time and energy to do it themselves, and there might be a couple advisors in there who decide to copy you.
But is that any reason to turn away thousands of potential prospects? We’ve never had an advisor say they had to close their firm because another advisor started doing business like them.
3. Having an Inflated Idea of the Impact of Your Content
Don’t get me wrong, the content you write is important. You are giving your unique perspective and advice on how people can plan and invest wisely. That insight is very useful.
But it’s easy to get so caught up in a blog that you begin to think people will base their entire investing strategy on this one article. No one is going to do that, and if they do, you are not to blame. No one should be making investment decisions based on one article.
To ease your conscience, make sure you include a line in your posts about the importance of speaking to a financial professional before taking any action.
So get out of the weeds and start kicking out some content. Your new clients are waiting for you.
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