Advisors: How to Engage Early Stage Prospects

It is safe to say that the buyer’s journey has changed. Customers now conduct most of their own research, and engage with more online content to support their decisions. However, in today’s self-educated world, we know that the online information pool is vast and buyers are picking and choosing content to support their decisions and requirements.

Most people who visit your website for the first time, no matter how well-optimized it is, won’t buy or engage with you. In fact, 96% of first time website visitors are not ready to buy in their journey.   So, what are they doing and what does this mean for you? Ask yourself, do you have enough valuable content that can benefit your visitor even if they never become a client?

According to Google…

‘’Our research has shown that, on average, business buyers do not contact suppliers directly until 57 percent of the purchase process is complete. That means for nearly two thirds of the buying process, you customers are out in the ether: forming opinions, learning technical specifications, building requirement lists, and narrowing down their options, all on their own, with minimal influence from you.”

Sales material is not what early stage buyers are looking for when they come across your website.   Most of your website visitors come to learn, not to be “salesmanned”. Early stage buyers are not looking for why they should work with you over your competitors. They are trying to give a name to their problem, consider what options exist, and be as educated as possible before moving forward.

What does this mean for Advisors?

As a result of the new buyer’s journey, Advisors need to become teachers and thought leaders that educate their audience and earn their trust.  Some of the most successful Advisors are using content marketing to engage with prospects by delivering information that makes the buyer more intelligent. The Financial Advisors who have achieved success through digital marketing are using content marketing to provide their visitor with valuable content, without selling anything, that will benefit the visitor even if they never become a client.  Below, is a fantastic chart, courtesy of Hubspot, that outlines the different buyer stages, and characteristics of each stage of the journey.

The Buyer Journey


Advisor’s content should speak to their target audience in the midst of the learning journey outlined in the chart above. From awareness, to consideration to decision, position your website around content that addresses the problems, questions, challenges and information gaps at each stage; the goal being to seamlessly educate across the entire customer journey. Buyers are ultimately going to do business with people who have educated them and earned their trust. However, in a world where consumers are bombarded with hundreds of marketing messages a day, it is not enough to just teach; you have to teach well.


Quick tip: A quick and easy way to come up with helpful topics to write about is to write down all of the questions that you get asked on a regular basis from clients. Each question can be put in to a blog post to help provide solutions and answers to questions that prospects are searching for online.


Guide to Content Marketing

Introduction to Content Marketing for Financial Advisors


Marketing has evolved tremendously in the past decade – and more importantly the way we market to people has changed. Today’s consumers make purchasing decisions based on research they do on their own, reading online reviews, and through trust that is built overtime with an organization.

We are now in the age of “Googling”. This means that people are turning to search engines, like Google, to find the answers to their questions. Considering that 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine (imFORZA), having the ability to answer a prospects question online could help you seal the deal when the time comes. After all, 70% of the buyer’s journey is complete before a buyer even reaches out to a sales associate (Pardot).

With content so readily available to consumers, one of the best ways to build trust and credibility is through content marketing. So, what is content marketing and how can you start your content marketing journey?

Well, first off…

What is content marketing?

By dictionary definition, content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience – and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action. 

Content marketing aims to educate and inform your audience without selling your product or service – a form of uninterrupted marketing. Consistently creating content that is relevant, informative and provides value to your audience will help attract new clients to your business as it positions you as a thought leader and builds a sense of trust between you and a prospect. Content marketing is one of the most important marketing strategies you can implement for your business. It helps you to build trust with your audience, connect and engage with prospects, and strengthens your Search Engine Optimization, all while further establishing yourself as an expert in the Financial Services industry.

Content creation

There are a variety of different formats of content that you can create to attract a wider audience of prospects. By creating content in different formats and promoting through different channels, the chance of others finding, reading and referring back to your content increases.

To make things easy, start with one idea and decide which medium would be the most appropriate way to share it. Would the information be better interpreted as a blog post, an infographic, a video?

Why content marketing?

Content marketing is a means to help solve, educate and inform your audience on problems they may be facing. By providing prospects and clients with readily available information online, you’re able to build a more trusting and valuable relationship with them. This is one of the most inexpensive and effective forms of inbound marketing. According to DemandMetric, content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing and generates about 3 times as many leads.

If you think back to a problem you may have encountered, or a question that came up such as, “How do I stain my porch?” or “What are the best restaurants in Toronto?”, Did you search for an answer online? Just as you turned to the Internet to find answers, many people do the same for topics related to the Financial Services industry. Search is the #1 driver of traffic to content sites, beating social media by more than 300% (imFORZA). By including content marketing in your digital marketing strategy, your business has the potential to be a 24/7 online hub for individuals looking for financial advice.

Getting started
To get started on your content marketing journey, here are some things you can do:

  • Find an area that you can be an expert in and use content marketing as a means to answer your target audience’s questions, and solve their challenges.
  • Make a list of blog post ideas – kind of like an extensive FAQ, or relevant topics that would be of interest to your audience
  • Create a content calendar – this will help keep you organized throughout the process
  • Decide on the types of content you want to create
  • Make your current content more socially shareable
  • Learn to optimize your content and boost your SEO to amplify your organic reach
  • Use eNewsletters to push out and repurpose your content


For a more in-depth guide to content marketing, try downloading our eBook: The Financial Advisor’s Guide to Content Marketing

Blogging Like It’s Nobody’s Business


What is Blogging?

Blogging is the act of adding new material to or the regular updating of a blog. A blog is a collection of articles that provide helpful valuable educational and remarkable content to your target audience.

You might be thinking, “it sounds like a lot of work” but there are many benefits to creating a blogging strategy that will benefit advisors and their business.

What’s the difference between a blog and a website?

As an advisor, if you’re thinking “I have a website, why do I need a blog?” They are often mistaken for the same thing when they are not. Blogs are updated more frequently whereas the rest of your website is static content that is not updated often. This could be basic content about you and your business’s products and services. 

Blogging Benefits

1. More traffic & New Visitors

Blogs that are consistently updated often see up to 55% more website traffic than those that don’t. Blogs that are updated often also help with Google rankings as the crawlings see a new blog post as fresh new content. 

Before/After Blogging

This advisor started blogging on October 1st, 2014. As you can see, after they began blogging, the traffic going to their website increased, both organically and in total. In addition, there were many new users that started visiting their website after they started blogging.

2. Delivering an Experience

Marketing is not what it used to be where it was constant one-way communication. Now, it’s about creating advocates for your product or service. It’s about creating an experience online that will make your audience want to come back. If your audience feels they are getting valuable, relevant content on topics that matter to them they’ll have a great experience with your content and want to read more of your content.

Social media changed that entire game. With social media, your audience can engage and interact with your content. Engaging in blogging is a strategy to extend your experience to a communication medium where your audience lives.

3. Develop Authority and Trust With Your Audience

Being an authority helps to establish trust, develop credibility as a thought leader in your industry. By writing blog content advisors can position themselves as experts in their particular specialty. Your target audience wants to read content that is relevant to them by someone that is reputable and knows what they are talking about.

Components of a Blog Post

1.Page title: Keyword focused page title

2.Page URL: A url that has the important keywords of your blog post will help with SEO

3.Blog titleCaptivating, eye-catching title to make your audience want to click and read your article. There are some free tools you can use to check the quality of your blog title.

Veriday Blog

4. Description: The description is what will be displayed in search results when your blog post comes up.

Veriday Blog

5.Content: Writing content that has keywords is important for getting your blog post to rank on Google. Keyword research can be done using the Keyword Planner tool.

6. Call to Action: Having a call to action at the end of each blog post is crucial in moving prospects through the buyer’s journey. This could be Contact, Download, Sign Up. By completing an action, the prospect is telling you they are interested and want to learn more. 

Common Mistakes and Pitfalls

Pitfall #1 – Expecting Overnight Success

Success in blogging takes time but people who commit to a consistent blogging strategy will see results over time.

Pitfall #2 – Forgetting to tell your audience about your writing

Just because a new blog has written, that doesn’t mean people will automatically read it. It’s up to you to tell your audience about your new blog post. This could be posting it on social media channels and including the blog post in an email newsletter. It’s a good idea to always look for new ways to promote new blog content to get it in front of new people.

Pitfall #3 – Missing Conversion Mechanisms

When it comes to blogging or any marketing activity, your ultimate goal would be to get new clients and new business right? Be sure to include a call to action to convert your blog readers into actual leads. You want to be always trying to move prospects through your sales funnel.

Pitfall#4 – Creating Content that is off topic

It’s important to know your target audience and write content that is relevant and important to them. The blog content should relate to the title of the blog post so people know what to expect when they’re reading.

Pitfall #5- Trying to Create the Perfect Post

If you’re new to blogging, it can be easy to get caught up in making the perfect blog post. There are thousands of blog posts on how to make the perfect blog post but having a completed live blog post is always a better approach.

Our eBook, The Financial & Insurance Advisor’s Guide to Content Marketing, can help financial advisors get discovered online quickly and easily, check it out to take the next steps in your content marketing journey!

Blogging: Content Marketing

5 Types of Content to Boost your Advisor Website Traffic


According to Marketo, “Inbound marketing is a strategy that utilizes many forms of pull marketing – content marketing, blogs, events, SEO, social media and more – to create brand awareness and attract new business. Inbound marketing earns the attention of customers and makes the company easy to be found.”  

There are many ways to boost traffic to your website and better engage your audience. But, which form of inbound marketing is the best? The answer varies from business to business. In a day and age where people prefer to be educated rather than sold, content creation is the key to connecting and engaging your audience, and further boosting traffic to your Advisor website.

Here are 5 different types of content you should start (or continue) to create for your website to help boost your traffic and engage your audience:

  1. Infographics

Researchers found that coloured visuals increase people’s willingness to read a piece of content by 80% (Xerox). Infographics are a great way to share information with your audience in a simplified and visually appealing way. To get started, check out some free infographic templates, provided Venngage (sign up required).

  1. Videos

51.9% of marketing professionals worldwide name video as the type of content with the best ROI (Adobe). Whether it is an informational video describing the difference between an RRSP and a TFSA or a welcome video introducing yourself to your online audience, there are many easy ways to incorporate video into your Financial Advisor website.

  1. Webinars

According to Entrepreneurs Forum, hosting a webinar creates several benefits for your business including:

  • Develops authority and trust with prospects and clients
  • Raises brand awareness by providing users an uninterrupted way to advertise your business
  • Grows your contact list
  • Generates qualified leads
  • Shows off your brand’s personality – something that isn’t as easily done through the written word

Webinars are a powerful tool for interacting and connecting with prospects and clients. Hosting a webinar allows your audience to get to know you, as a Financial Advisor, on a much deeper level than they would if they were to only read website content.

  1. eBooks

eBooks are a great way to compile your existing blog content and dive deeper into a specific topic. For example, we have compiled some of our existing blog content into an eBook: The Financial Advisor’s Guide to Content Marketing. eBooks have a higher perceived value to your readers who will be more willing to give you their contact information in exchange for access to your eBook. Readers are more likely to feel like this was a fair exchange as you supply them with instant access to a valuable piece of content that they are interested in.

  1. Blogs

 81% of U.S. online consumers trust information and advice from blogs (BlogHer). Blogging is one of the best ways to have a conversation with your audience by answering questions they may have in a non-intrusive manner. Research some of the questions that your audience has, or what information they enjoy reading and use that to your advantage by writing about it.  Over time, this will help you build valuable, trusted relationships with prospects and clients.

There is a wide range of content that you can create to better engage, inform, and connect with prospects, clients and industry leaders. Some other examples of different types of content are:

  • Newsletters
  • Memes
  • Reviews
  • How-to-guides
  • Case studies
  • Podcasts
  • Interviews
  • Slideshares
  • Social Media
  • Opinion pieces

Aside from the clear benefits mentioned from creating a variety of content for your audience, doing this will also help to improve your SEO and search engine rankings. If you feel like continuously creating content is a big time commitment, remember that you can always repurpose your current content in order to get the most mileage out of all of your content writing efforts.

Advisors: Why The New SEO Is Actually All About Content Marketing


In part 1 of this series, we looked briefly at an overview of what Search Engine Optimization (SEO) used to be versus what Search Engine Optimization is now. One thing that we know for sure is that what used to work, doesn’t work anymore. One of the biggest game changers in SEO over the years has been content marketing.

The old SEO was largely focused on researching your target keywords and then building an SEO campaign around those focused keywords. It was understood that search crawlers looked for keywords in website content, and that it was most effective to use those keywords in titles, meta-descriptions and the first 100 words of an article. Content was created and those targeted keywords were inserted in all the right places. If you were an Advisor that was early to market, and there wasn’t a lot of competition around your keywords, chances are you would see some success.  Traditional SEO focused more on trying to rank high using target keywords and less on trying to fulfill the needs and requirements of the people using these keywords to make searches.

SEO used to be a strategy that was fairly easy to take advantage of. It didn’t take a rocket science to trick Google into ranking a poorly put together website high on their search results page.

But then…

Online competition increased, consumer awareness improved, and out went the days of a keyword focused SEO strategy.

Unlike old SEO strategies, the new SEO puts focus on value, quality, and engagement. Keyword research has become far less important than good content marketing and content creation. Today’s SEO is in large part a combination of creating and sharing great content. It has become about communicating with your current and future customers without trying to promote your Advisor services, a method of helping your prospects by teaching instead of directly selling. The idea is that if you are creating valuable content focused on questions and topics that are relevant to your business, and your client’s and prospect’s interests and challenges, your content should naturally contain the keywords for which you want to rank.

Google is now looking for more active engagement with your site’s content. This is why unique and valuable content is more effective than ever. High quality content offers Advisor’s clients and prospects unique and applicable information that they can engage with, like and share. If more people are referring and sharing your content, you have a better chance of getting ranked higher in search engines than if you were to solely target the ‘’right’’ keywords.  Additionally, creating high quality and unique traffic helps to drive more traffic to your website, drives client engagement and leads, and has a long-term effect for your web presence.

So, what are three of the most important things Advisors should be doing to get help drive traffic to their website?

  • A dynamic website – Search engines love websites that are constantly being updated with unique and fresh content.  When content is constantly updated that means that your website is always changing.  When Google spiders come to audit your site to see if anything has changed, they report their findings back to Google; they report back whether your website is of high quality (or not) as a result of whether it is constantly updated with new, unique, and quality content. A dynamic and constantly changing website is good for you because this not only means that Google will send spiders to your website more often, it also means that your website has a better chance of ranking for your targeted keywords.
  • Blog, blog blog! The new SEO is all about great content.  New content builds trust and keeps your visitors engaged and coming back. Your blog articles should be focused on quality and share-ability.
  • Be Active on Social Media! Social activity allows you to build links and engagement (likes, shares, tweets etc.) around your website content.
    • Infographics, E-books, Guides, Webinars, How-tos, Case Studies, Interviews, Research and Original Data, Reviews…are all great ways to share information and insights.

Today, SEO is in large part a byproduct of excellent and unique content. By taking time to invest in sharing and creating high quality content, you can educate your clients and prospects, and build a credible, industry-leading business in the process.

I think this is a win-win that we can all agree on.

Guide to Content Marketing


How is Content Marketing Changing Buyer Behaviour?

How is content marketing changing buyer behaviour?  In fact, content marketing is not changing buyer behaviour.

A brief history of Content Marketing

The truth is, content marketing has been around for a long time. It all began back in the late 1800s.  In 1895, John Deere started publishing a magazine called, “The Furrow”. The purpose of this magazine was to become a resource for his customers, and educate farmers on how to better manage their crops to become more fruitful business owners. John Deere published this magazine for the purpose of educating his target audience, not selling. By providing this magazine to farmers, John Deere wanted to become a thought leader and used content marketing to align farming with his expertise and brand. Clearly, this venture has been very successful for John Deere, which begs the question; was John Deere the original content marketer?

Traditional Marketing Vs. Content Marketing

If content marketing is not changing buyer behaviour, then what is? It is the distribution and accessibility of content that is effectively changing buyer behaviour.  The evolution of content marketing and the way it is distributed and accessed is changing the ground rules in marketing and sales. Traditional examples of content marketing which include direct sales, static websites, print advertising, brochures, press releases, catalogues, branded magazines, direct mail, radio, and more, are phasing their way out.

Traditional content marketing saw a gradual evolution from traditional content (hard copy) to digital and social content marketing. The evolution of content marketing has eliminated geographic constraints as consumers can now read and learn about anything online, and on their mobile devices, regardless of their location. ‘’Googling’’ has become one of the most popular words in the English language allowing online consumers to quickly and efficiently search for any topic under the sun- in less than one minute.

In 1993, we saw the birth of the e-book, which paved the way for corporations to create content and publish it to a wide audience. In 1998, blogging became popular and it wasn’t long until bloggers opinions and insights were regarded credible enough to make the news. In 2003, we started to get social with MySpace, which was soon surpassed by Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Digital and social content marketing also includes content such as case studies, white papers, blogs, e-books, Infographics, Webinars, Podcasts, Google + and more.

What does the evolution of Content Marketing tell us? 

The emergence and growth of digital and social content marketing means buyers are being bombarded with content and information overload on a daily basis. So, what can we take away from the evolution of content marketing, and the content overload trend, and how does this relate to Advisors in the Financial Services industry? First, let’s look at some statistics that speak to the accessibility of content, and the importance of the new form of content marketing:

  • 92% start with a search engine when looking for a particular product or solution. (Cremarc, 2015)
  • 60% of the sales journey is completed before a customer makes contact with a sales person. (Hubspot, 2015)
  • 61% have an open mind when searching online. They do not know whom they will purchase from.(Cremarc, 2015)
  • 50% of buyers create a short-list before they get to the stage of engaging a sales person.(Cremarc, 2015)

The evolution of content marketing has taught us the importance of having an established online presence and content marketing strategy. Advisors can no longer differentiate by service, price, and performance. In a world where the majority of the sales journey is complete before a consumer speaks to a sales person, people are choosing to do business with you because of your specialized and unique thought leadership, that should be easily accessible online.  So, how can Advisors cut through the content overload?

  • Advisors need to create content that is unique, valuable, and of high quality, instead of promotional.
  • Advisors need to create content that is for the consumer, rather than for promoting the business.
  • Content needs to offer the consumer something that is new and valuuable to them.  Advisors’  content should help to solve their questions and challenges, and help do their homework for them.
  • Content should evoke conversations and make people want to share it.
  • Advisors need to use their content to become thought-leaders.
  • Create content that targets prospects at different phases of the buyers journey.


Where do you think the future of content marketing will take us?

Guide to Content Marketing


4 Tips to Make Your Blog More Socially Shareable


88% of millennials used Facebook as their main source of news in 2015. As a Financial Advisor, you should be continuously trying to reach a wider audience in order to help build brand awareness and thought leadership. Content marketing helps boost your websites SEO, increasing the overall traffic to your website and ups your position as a thought leader in the financial industry.

Blogs are a great way to attract future clients and keep current clients up-to-date. Here are four tips to help make your blog more socially shareable.

Cut the Jargon

As a Financial Advisor, you’re well-versed in your trade. When it comes to making your blog more socially shareable, however, you’ll want to keep specialized financial vocabulary to a minimum. Always keep in mind that your audience, for the most part, is not comprised of other Financial Advisors who have a background in Financial Planning and are familiar with terms like “annuity,” “fiduciary” and “asset class diversification”.

To make your blog more socially shareable, write simply and clearly. Avoid using jargon, but if you have to, make sure that you explain it in a simple and direct way. Always take your audience demographic into consideration.

Be Mindful of Your Audience

Cutting the jargon does not, however, mean dumbing down your language. Instead, write informative and direct posts about a variety of subjects. You can write about general topics like retirement, or much more specific ones like what you need to know about your RRSP as this year’s deadline approaches. Make sure that they are well-researched and well-written, as clients and prospects will continue to visit your blog if they feel that they are receiving unique, valuable and sound financial advice.

Get Connected

A great way to attract more visitors to your blog is to advertise it on social media. Get connected through the use of social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. These platforms will allow you to promote your blog regularly in creative and interesting ways. The key word here is regularly. In order to maintain public interest in your blog, you will need to post frequently. People will lose interest very quickly in your blog if you’re only posting once every few months. That doesn’t mean that you have to post three times a day (in fact, that’s probably overdoing it), but rather that you should come up with a reasonable schedule and stick to it. Websites that are updated with fresh content regularly generally receive significantly higher traffic than those that are not.

Keep Your Word Count to a Minimum

This is a crucial tip. When you’re writing blog posts, don’t churn out a Moby Dick length novel of financial advice. Keep your posts short and to-the-point so readers aren’t overwhelmed or bored. It is important to keep in mind that the majority of website visitors scan a new page, rather than read it word for word.  By keeping your blog posts short and concise, or in list form, it will make it easier to engage visitors who prefer to scan a page.

Just as you keep your posts to a reasonable length, make sure that you stick to the point. As a Financial Advisor, people are visiting your blog to read valuable advice and gain unique insight into financial activities so be sure to fulfill that component.

Social media is a great way to build your personal brand. Making your blog shareable across several platforms will help you keep your current clients informed while expanding your reach to new prospects. An increase in traffic for your website, over time will position you as a thought leader in the financial planning industry. So, if you haven’t done so already – set up a Twitter and Facebook account right now and get to work!


7 Financial Marketing Trends in the Wealth Management Sector

Financial Advisors: 7 Simple Tips for Writing Effective Content for Your Website


Summary: The Internet is the first place most people look when they’re researching Financial Advisors. That’s why every Financial Advisor needs a sleek and informative website that is at once personalized and professional. Here are 7 simple tips for writing effective content for your website.

Include a Short Biography

Your website should include a short, well-written biography that lets prospective clients know a little bit about you. The key word here is Financial Advisors: Seven Simple Tips for Writing Effective Content for Your Website“little”; don’t overdo it. Keep your bio short – around 300 words or so – so that readers don’t get bored or feel as if they’re reading your life’s story. When it comes to writing a biography, make sure to include your educational background, career highlights, areas of specialty, and any other information that you think might peak someone’s interest and make you stand out from the competition; but remember to keep it short and to the point, and make sure you don’t include any personal information that you would not be comfortable sharing on the Internet.

Your website is often the first point of contact for prospective clients, which you means you want to make a good first impression and put your best foot forward.


Keep It Simple

The best way to write effective content for your website is to keep it simple. Keep your sentences short and direct, and avoid using overly metaphorical or figurative language in your writing, as it may confuse your readers. Similarly, don’t use a lot of jargon on your website: write for a general, non-specialist audience. In other words, don’t alienate your audience.

Skimming and Scanning

Most Internet users only skim a website’s content, rather than reading each and every paragraph word for word. One of the biggest mistakes that Advisors are making is treating their web copy like print copy. In reality, web copy is read completely differently than print; only 16% of visitors read word by word. Organize your paragraphs around one central idea so that even if your readers are only skimming, they’ll be able to pick up on key points. Don’t take too long getting to the point either; just keep your writing simple and direct.

Look Like a Pro

You should include a high-quality, professionally-taken photograph on your website. “Selfies” are a definite no-no. Remember: your website is the number one place where people will go to find out about your business and the services you offer, so you’ll want to make sure that it looks professional. That means getting your headshot taken by a professional photographer, and including only high-quality, non-pixelated images on your webpage.

Do Some Research

If you’re not sure how you want your website to look, why not browse other Financial Advisors’ websites to get an idea of what’s out there? The more research you do, the better you’ll understand what kind of website you want to build. You’ll also get a sense of what works and what doesn’t.

Hire a Pro

Many people will hire a professional web designer, but they won’t hire a professional writer. Ever go to a website that looks great but is full of grammar and spelling mistakes and bad, incomprehensible writing? Bad writing and errors in spelling and grammar will only make you look incompetent and unprofessional. If you’re not up to writing effective content for your website – and be honest – make sure you hire someone who is.

Use Readable Fonts

This one seems obvious, but many people don’t follow this advice: when designing your website, make sure that you are using simple, readable fonts. That means don’t use frilly or overly elaborate fonts or anything “gimmicky.” Use a serious font that will reflect your professionalism, integrity and success.

Content Marketings Tactic Your Competitors are Neglecting

Content marketing may be the most important trend in digital marketing today. Industry surveys indicate that B2C businesses will spend on average 32% of their total 2016 marketing budgets on content marketing1. Its power as a lead generator is unmatched, and if you’re not doing it—and doing it right—you’re missing a critical piece of your marketing puzzle. Worse, you could be losing business.

Ok, ok, you’ve heard this before, right? The benefits are well documented. Experts will tell you that content marketing:

1) Builds awareness

2) Helps customers find you

3) Establishes you as a thought leader

All those are true, but there’s one major benefit that even experts often overlook, and that is: content is key to creating an irresistible brand.

What is a brand and how is it connected to content marketing?

A brand isn’t just a logo, typeface, and slogan. Your brand is the entire personality of your company. Think of it as the feelings and emotions that are evoked within a customer when they hear your name.

Brands are built slowly, piece by piece with each point of contact between you and your customers. Every ad, email, tweet, and blog post adds to your brand. Over time, good branding creates trust, establishes value, and fosters a sense familiarity.

In 2016, content marketing could be the most important tool for building your brand.

Why is content marketing so critical to creating a brand?

When you view your competitors’ websites, display ads, or marketing emails, do you ever feel they all look very similar? That’s no accident.

Today’s smart web developers and digital marketers know what makes people tick (and click!), and websites are finely tuned to be efficient and effective. The best digital practices are always emulated, borrowed, and replicated. This improves user experience, but as everyone copies the same successful strategies, variety and uniqueness decrease. This leaves many sites looking like they’re cut from the same template, because they are.

If you want to stand out from the crowd, you need a new technique to differentiate. So what’s the best way to differentiate online today? Yep, you guessed it: content marketing.

Content marketing establishes your unique value proposition

More than any other aspect of your online presence, content marketing allows you to communicate your unique value proposition; the aspect of your business that tells customers “this is why you should choose me instead of my competitors”.

Content marketing gives you the time, space, and freedom to engage deeply with customers—something that’s impossible to do in a 728 x 90-pixel banner ad.

Best of all, content marketing brims with real personality because it captures your own voice. Content takes your business beyond a robotic marketing slogan. Sure, the tone of your content should be professional, but when that tone echoes your individuality, you stand out from a noisy field of competitors.

3 simple tips to creating content that makes your brand shine

  1. Produce content that reinforces your points of difference

Before you write, ask yourself: how do my skills, my experience, my expertise, solve customers’ problems better than my competitors? The answers are your points of difference and combined they form your unique value proposition. Write them on a sticky note and place it next to your monitor.

If your content clearly demonstrates your points of difference, customers will understand exactly why they need to choose your business.

  1. Think of content as the evidence that supports your marketing claims

Say your company’s slogan is “Manitoba’s Master of Tax Minimization”. That’s a bold statement, but why should customers believe you? In the past, businesses relied on word of mouth and testimonials to substantiate these claims. Today, content marketing is the tool that proves your expertise to millions of skeptical customers before they ever do business with you.

  1. Be consistent and find your own voice

Decide on a style and vocabulary that reflects you and your business. A casual and accessible tone is effective for some audiences while others expect you to be formal and authoritative. Whichever style you choose, be sure that it carries your personal voice. This will build stronger connections, and ensures that your content feels fresh.

Summing up

Good brands are not created by telling customers why your business is great, they’re created by demonstrating it. And in today’s competitive digital landscape, content marketing is the most powerful tool for proving your value and building a business that gets noticed in a crowded marketplace.


1 B2C Content Marketing: 2016 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends — North America, Content Marketing Institute. (Published: October 14, 2015).

Advisors: Writing for the web creates 4 marketing benefits



How can writing for the web enrich your Financial Advisory business? A Financial Advisor who publishes a newsletter gets
a call: “Your friend just sent me a link from your newsletter. My wife is planning to retire, and we want to make the best use of those assets, consistent with our family goals. Can we all get together?”

This story shows several marketing dynamics specific to the web: Easy broadened distribution that can create unexpected business leads; web analytics that enable the advisor to see which newsletter stories were clicked and any that were clicked multiple times; and an additional information source when preparing for meetings. Because newsletter links drove traffic to the advisor’s site, the prospect had easy access to further information that confirmed his positive impression and led to his call.

Writing for the web may require adaptation of traditional marketing channels like brochures, but the rewards are well worth your effort.  Here are the challenges and how to meet them successfully.

Special challenges of writing for the web

Challenge #1: Grab readers immediately

What drives readers most is timely information that’s communicated clearly in the title of your post. The advisor in the opening anecdote had written about a new regulation related to taxes. Quick publishing via the web speeded timely communication to clients.

Make your content easy to look at, with short paragraphs, headings and sub-heads that state your content clearly, and layout that makes information flow and location of specific topics easy to grasp.

Challenge #2: Use images

Research has shown that the web is essentially a visual medium. Images attract viewers more than plain text.

If, like me, you’re a “word person,” thinking visually can seem daunting. I always envied people who could draw clear diagrams of complex processes, while I required what seemed like too many words. The good news is that, as investment professionals, you’re familiar with potentially the most compelling pictures for your audience: data visualization in charts.

Effective charts use interpretive titles that state the main idea, or story, of each one clearly and are accurate and faithful to your data.

If you enjoy taking pictures, include your own, either to personalize your site (e.g. show the photos in your office) or to illustrate your content. Your own photos are much more effective than stock photos of, say, the generic “meeting.”

Another effective way to use images is to provide a visual metaphor for what you’re talking about.










I’m not a good photographer, but I love art history and enjoy using paintings and photographs in my posts, especially as metaphors. Painters suspended on Brooklyn Bridge cables in 1914 means “risk” to me.













Because finding inexpensive, easy-to-use image sources with a good selection is a perpetual quest of everyone writing for the web, social media experts frequently recommend their favorites. I’ve used and Trustworthy sources will explain copyright and other legal restrictions on images. Be sure to respect copyright. Providing attribution of images you use is a nice touch, whether or not it’s required. This post supplies details as a hyperlink (“Image Source”).

Challenge #3: Distinctive brand “voice”

Write conversationally, referring to your own interests—family, leisure activities—to the extent that you’re comfortable, using plain English to discuss financial concepts.

A sure way to make your voice distinctive is to follow up insights from your web analytics. Are you compiling bookmarks on a social media site? Include these ongoing updates in your newsletter. If newsletter analytics show an unexpected increase in the number of clicks on a bookmark or section of your newsletter, explore the subject in a blog post or future newsletter item, mentioning that this is your response to client feedback.

The opportunity to develop and distinguish your own voice is a good lead-in to the significant benefits of writing for the web, which are interrelated results of information accessibility and communication speed.

Four Benefits of Writing for the Web

Benefit #1: Enduring presence and broader potential audience

The opening anecdote shows that easy distribution of information on the web broadened the advisor’s potential prospects by building service awareness and providing easy access to further information that confirmed the prospect’s favorable impression and motivated his call.

Have you ever lost a potential sale because the prospect lost the information you sent? Marketing on the web means that your posts remain available through search and referred links to existing clients, targeted prospects, and browsers. Your goal is to drive traffic to your site. The more you post to the web using multiple channels like your newsletter, blog, or social media sites like Twitter, the more people will find you.

Benefit #2: Extended marketing scope through easy sharing of posts

We saw sharing from friend to friend. Another way of sharing content is through social bookmarking sites like, which I’ve used for years to compile annotated lists of content recommended to clients. Here’s an example:

Advisors: Writing for the web creates 4 marketing benefits


Although all you need to post on Delicious is the URL, stating what benefits in the content led you to share it, as is done in the example above, is a greater service. also enables you to sort content by topic using tags, which can be bundled into groups, for example “Retirement.” Clients and prospects given access to your public account (I have a private account for my use and a public account with a different user name) can find what they need easily and become aware of new issues related to them and additional services you offer.

Benefit #3: Enhanced lead capture through offers of free content

What’s best for you about writing for the web? You can “repurpose” your content, turning it into a free offer available to readers who provide contact information requested.

Are you thinking of posting content that focuses on various stages of investors’ life cycles and includes the questions they should ask at each stage? Post it as a series, making readers aware of the series and future installments on your site, newsletter, and blog. When the series is complete, collect the installments and make them available as a free offer to visitors to your site and readers of your newsletter and blog.

Include a Call to Action with each free offer: e.g., “Are you making a transition to a new phase of your financial life? Click here to get a free copy of ‘Be financially prepared for all stages of your life.’”

Benefit #4: Varied content that shows what working with you is like

Services, unlike products, are experiential. Although clients can look at investment performance, they can’t take you home for a free trial. How to deal with this? The best answer I’ve found is to use your writing to simulate the experience of working with you as an advisor. Establish your distinctive voice through conversational analyses of market or regulatory events, explaining in plain language who they matter to and why.

Bring the words of your investment philosophy and practice values to life with stories showing how you helped clients fulfill their goals while staying within their comfort zone for risk: Parents funding children’s education; adults with financial resources to start a business, buy a home, or fund dreams of travel during retirement.

As you develop your sites and newsletters or blogs, you’ll want to try new marketing strategies and forms of content. To help you move ahead, here’s an excellent glossary of social media terms, with clear definitions and just the right amount of irreverence.


Susan K BeckerSusan K. Becker, founder of Manhattan-based Becker Consulting Services, is a marketing communication consultant, writer/editor, and presentation coach for organizations in financial services, professional services, and health care. She’s passionate about making communication more effective by maximizing the interplay of text, images, and design. Follow her on Twitter.