Have you launched a blog for your financial services practice? Are you currently self-publishing your insights through blogging? Perhaps you’ve considered launching a blog, or maybe you’ve been blogging for some time, but you just haven’t yet realized the benefits of this powerful, modern business building activity.
Self-publishing online through blogging has multiple business benefits. Blogging can build your online reputation, help you attract and cultivate ideal client relationships, improve and scale existing client communications, and position you as a leader in your community.
Launching a blog is like opening a retirement account. In order to build your digital equity as you would your retirement nest egg, you need to contribute content to your blog consistently, and over a reasonable period of time. Your results will not be visible in the beginning because blogging is an activity that builds long-term equity online. Building a successful blog can take anywhere from 6 months to 3 years, and most people give up before they ever begin to reap the true benefits.
As far as which software to use for launching and growing your blog, WordPress is the gold standard for financial advisor bloggers, small businesses, and even large brands. This powerful, open source software tool makes it easy get started and continue growing a successful blog that can support your long-term business goals. New features are constantly being developed for WordPress, it can be integrated into your existing website (on a sub-domain of your site), and it makes self-publishing extremely easy.
Blogging is an activity that requires time and effort, but there are many ways to get help with developing and publishing your content. You don’t have to go it alone. The long-term business benefits of blogging can make the effort very worthwhile. In fact, I believe that if you don’t have a blog that consistently showcases and distributes your perspective online, it will be very difficult to position yourself as a trusted advisor in this digital age of social and mobile. You’re going to need to be visible, valuable, and accessible to your clients and prospects.
What are some of the benefits of blogging? Perhaps you haven’t considered these 10 benefits that I’ve outlined below. These are some of the benefits I’ve personally experienced through my own blogging efforts along with many Wired Advisor clients.
10 Ways a Blog Can Benefit Your Financial Practice
#1)It’s a Compliant Marketing Tool
If you’re still concerned about compliance restrictions with social media marketing, a blog is one of the most compliant marketing tools you can use. Every piece of content you develop for your blog (articles, videos, images, etc.) will most likely need to be pre-approved by compliance (if you’re subject to this). Once your blog content is approved, it can be published and shared out to your social media profiles. If you’re restricted in using social media, you may find that your compliance department would be more open to blogging due to the fact that you’re sharing pre-approved content.
Consider taking any of your existing pre-approved content (white papers, presentations, articles) and repurposing those to a blog. If you get all of that content online and into a format that is indexed by Google and shareable with social networks, you have a much greater chance of expanding your reach and visibility online.
#2)Achieve Online Relevance Quickly
Blogging is one of the very best ways to duplicate your offline reputation because you can build your blog to showcase who you are personally and professionally. Your blog is going to be indexed by Google and other search engines, and you can point to your blog from your social media channels. Blogging gives you a discoverable voice online.
If an ideal client were researching you and wanting to learn more about you, they should not need to look any further than your blog. Not only could they see a collection of your professional insights and opinions, but they could also get to know the kind of person you are, how you help clients who are just like them, and how to easily connect with you on social networks, by email, or phone.
If you don’t build out digital assets that you own (blogs and websites), you won’t be discoverable or relevant. You won’t have that opportunity to build trust with someone before they become your client. Blogging accelerates that process significantly.
#3)Publicly (and Subtly) Demonstrate Your Value to Thousands
Studies show that higher net worth investors value the expertise of the advisor over everything else. Blogging is a great way to showcase your expertise online and illustrate how you help your clients solve their financial problems and achieve their financial goals. It’s a subtle way to self-promote your knowledge and expertise in a format that can reach thousands. You’re not blatantly marketing your services through blogging, you’re subtly promoting the fact that you’re smart, you’re good at what you do, and you’re providing proof that you have helped people in similar situations achieve positive financial outcomes.
There is no better venue for expanding your reach and visibility than blogging. Think of the potential size of your online audience of ideal clients versus getting 30 people in a room for a workshop. You can be demonstrating your expertise and value online through your blog and social media activities, which exceed the limitations of a workshop, direct mailings, or cold calls. Arguably it’s much less expensive to blog than utilizing traditional marketing methods.
#4)Develop a Personalized Brand (Build Virtual Trust)
Consumers have become less trusting of financial institutions. Developing a personalized brand is going to be critical for financial advisors to win clients in the digital age. A more personalized approach will integrate who you are, what you believe in, and what you care about throughout your online presence. It’s your story. As your ideal clients get to see you for the person you really are through your blog, you have a much greater opportunity to develop trust online. The people you attract to you online will feel like they know you, and because of this they will develop trust in you. It doesn’t matter if you are a one person financial practice or affiliated with a larger firm. A blog is a great way to showcase the voice or voices of the leaders in your firm.
Are you familiar with the Propinquity Effect? Basically, the Propinquity Effect is the tendency for people to form relationships with those whom they encounter often. Virtual Propinquity is alive and well online. The more your ideal clients see you online and consume your content, the more likely they are to like and trust you. This is especially true if they form a connection with you through similar beliefs and interests. If your blog content is personable and resonates with your target audience, your ideal will begin to view you as the trusted, go-to expert.
#5)Anchor Your Social Media Strategy
If you don’t have a social media strategy (both the big picture framework and a tactical for each network), you will need to develop one. The most effective social media strategies are anchored by blogs.
First, blogging technology enables you to automatically send your latest posts to your social media profiles. In addition, your latest posts can automatically go out in an email newsletter digest to all of your contacts. Blogging creates the foundation for your online marketing system. Hit the publish button for your blog post, and you’re well on your way to building followers, fans, and advocates on the social web.
Is is also critical to connect your social media community to something of value. How can you help your ideal clients solve their problems, get smarter, or achieve more? Social “networking” with your connections in and of itself is important, but if you want to position yourself as a person of influence online, you have to build authority through showcasing your expertise and connecting your community to that expertise.
The key to success with social media is being consistently visible and valuable with your target markets. There is no selling involved or prospecting for that matter. You’re simply building relevant connections and providing consistent value to clients, advocates, and prospects in the places where they spend their time online. I call this the digital drip. Your blog can drive the digital drip process.
#6)Show Up When Your Clients and Prospects are Searching Google
Blogs are search engine magnets. If you’re waiting for your ideal clients to discover your website that you may have invested thousands of dollars into, you are going to keep waiting. Unless you are publishing NEW content to your website frequently, you will never be found online. The goal is to match your content up with the questions, problems, concerns, experiences, and goals of your ideal clients in your target market.
Google is a lot smarter than they used to be. If you’re connected to your clients and building a pipeline of prospects on social networks, there is a really good chance you’re going to show up within their online search results. How can this be? Google technology can determine where someone is searching from, what they’ve searched in the past, and who they are connected to in social networks. Online search has become personalized.
Imagine if your clients started looking for answers elsewhere (online) and you continued to show up as the go-to resource!
When you self-publish your insights through blogging, you can also establish authority with Google through the Google Author Rank program. Google has begun placing significant value on who the content creators and contributors are across the web. Of all of the arguments against using canned financial content in your marketing, this is the biggie. The more you build your self-publishing reputation with Google, the more likely your content will be to rise to the top and be visible to your ideal clients.
Static websites are the equivalent of paper brochures these days. You’re going to work harder and expand beyond the traditional website if you want to be found by your ideal clients online today.
#7)Create a Passive, “Modern” Referral System
Perhaps you’ve noticed that social media sharing buttons are on just about every website and blog you come across online. These buttons are exactly what can help your content get shared. Now, think about your existing clients simply clicking the button to share your content on Facebook with their friends, or on LinkedIn with their professional network. Now, you have exposure to their networks!
Additionally, as I discussed in #5, your blog posts should also be set up to go out to your clients and prospects via email, each time you publish something new. Within that email, you can embed social sharing buttons as well as a button that makes it simple to forward the email to a friend.
By creating and publishing your insights to a blog, you are inherently creating a modern referral system that is designed to attract your ideal clients to you.
If you’re proficient at blogging, you will never have to proactively ask for referrals again.
#8)Go Mobile, Quickly and Easily
We are living in a social, mobile society. Mobile technology now enables us to do almost anything on the go. Do you want to know the easiest and most cost efficient way to go mobile? Launch a blog that is mobile responsive.
Once you have a blog up and running, it will begin to serve as a landing pad for the online traffic you generate from search engines and social media. This is exactly what you want. Because your blog is personalized, prospective clients can get to know, like, and trust you. They can also sign-up for your updates and perhaps download a complimentary guide that you’re offering. They can also consume and share your content with their connections.
If you’re web presence is not accessible on a mobile device, or does not display nicely on a mobile device, you’ve lost any opportunity to develop a relationship. It’s a dead end. Today, as much as 30% of my blog traffic comes from a mobile device. If my sites weren’t accessible and easy to navigate even on an iPhone, I would lose any potential business opportunities associated with mobile visitors.
If you want to create a fantastic mobile presence quickly, launch a WordPress blog that compliments your website.
#9)Proactive Client Service Tool
What? How can a blog possibly serve as a client service tool? Well, it can, and here’s how:
A client contacts you with a question. (Chances are, clients like them have the same question) You’ve written an in-depth blog post addressing this exact question that you can quickly point your client or prospect to and give them information and answers.
As you build up your intellectual capital of educational insights and perspectives on your blog, you will have a vast library of “shareable” resources that you can provide to your clients. Even better, remember you will be proactively sharing this content with your clients on an ongoing basis.
Wouldn’t you rather clients turn to you for answers than the media or their friends? You’ve got to create the answers, make them readily available and easy to access.
A blog enables you to scale your communications with clients and prospects during market ups and downs and major economic, financial, or political events. It can actually make your business more efficient. A number of Wired Advisor clients have shared with me stories about how their blogs are serving as valuable resources in efficiently communicating with clients and prospects.
#10)Capture and Cultivate Leads
Remember that if you’re blogging consistently, you have lots of opportunities to get found in search engines and attract visitors to your site from social networks. It really doesn’t matter if you have 50 visitors a day or 500. If you’re building a qualified and trusted network of connections online, that will translate into quality traffic. Your content must also really hit the mark with your clients and prospects in regards to the questions and concerns on their minds. If you’re content is dry and boring, no one will be interested in consuming it.
Once you start building some traffic, you will want to try and convert a percentage of those visitors to take the next step. Having a clear call-to-action on your blog encouraging visitors to subscribe to your updates is essential. Additionally, you can go beyond this and offer a valuable resource guide or even an ebook for free. People are eager to gain valuable knowledge and information in exchange for their contact details.
As you build an organic list of potentially qualified prospects, you can then begin to move them to the next step of inviting them to an event, or even sitting down with them face-to-face.
Simply stated, a blog can assist you in the client conversion process. If you’re adding value everywhere online where your clients and prospects spend their time, these online multiple touch points will each contribute to the process of moving your contacts to either becoming a client or sharing your insights with their connections. We call this the multi-attribution process where you’re essentially franchising your online presence.
It’s not just your independent activity on Facebook or Twitter that will convert qualified leads, it’s the combination of blog posts, social media activity, and emails to your organically grown list that will ultimately increase client acquisition opportunities and client loyalty.
#11)BONUS! Network With Other Professionals in Your Community
Ok, one more benefit for you. If you want to get on the radar screen with other professionals in your community, there are a few ways to leverage your blog in positioning yourself.
You can invite local professionals to contribute a “guest post” to your blog. The benefit to them is they get to share their expertise with your audience. The benefit to you is that they will share the post with their audience. It’s a win-win.
Or, you can conduct an interview with a local professional and publish that content on your blog. The same benefits from above would apply.
Lastly, you could teach the benefits of blogging to professionals in your community and create an informal blog network. This would position you as a thought leader and an influencer. If there are multiple professionals in your community who are blogging, you can all help each other by mutually promoting and sharing each others content. This kind of piggybacking online marketing strategy is highly effective.
Now It’s Your Turn
Had you considered all of these benefits to blogging before? If you’re looking for immediate results with blogging, you most likely will be disappointed. It’s a long-term investment in building your digital equity and you are going to have to stick with it. There is no doubt that strategic blogging can help you build a permanent and powerful online presence for growing your business. You will have to invest some time, but you will get better and better with practice.
What’s holding you back from launching a blog to grow your business?