Blogging Your Way to Success: 6 Steps for Advisors

 

 

John Anderson is a contributor for Practically Speaking and also serves as a managing director for the SEI Advisor Network. www.seic.com According to my Outlook calendar reminder, Practically Speaking just hit its 4-year anniversary this week. Frankly, the response has been better than we ever anticipated or could have imagined. In fact, a few months ago, Brightscope listed us again in their 100 Most Influential Advisors on Social Media list – jumping up whopping 12 spots from the year before. It is amazing that the blog consistently increases its subscriber base and I am truly overwhelmed (and humbled) with the regular interactions that I have with advisors from all over the world.

To me, the success of Practically Speaking shows the power of social media and how, by starting with a plan, advisors can reach out to prospects to start a conversation, develop a brand, and differentiate their businesses in a very crowded world. Today, in honor of our anniversary, I’d like to share some of the major lessons we learned in creating and growing our blog – and give you some food for thought about blogging as a  way to engage with your prospects and provide another service touch with your clients.

1. Start with a plan.
Without a doubt, the biggest reason for our success is in the planning process. Before we wrote our first word, we spent almost a year “listening” to our target audience online, in places like LinkedIn groups, social networks, and traditional media. We listened to what topics got the most attention, the most interactions, and the frequency of articles. We set up alerts on all sorts of terms using Google Alerts and monitored how often certain terms and phrases were used, where and by whom. We also worked very closely with our compliance department, making sure they were our partners in creating the archiving, messaging, and feedback processes we were putting in place. Lastly, I wrote 3-4 initial posts to get started (before we began publishing) to make sure we had content and everyone was ok with the format.

Lesson Learned: The closer you are to your target market (niche), the more you will know the obstacles they face, the words they use, and how you can help. Use that experience. Also, rather than asking your compliance department to approve an idea of what you want to do, show them examples (targeted to your client base) of exactly the tone and messaging of your content. Be prepared to acknowledge their role in the archiving and content approval process.

2. Go social (or why bother).
I think I was the second subscriber to my blog, and my wife was the third or fourth. We knew we needed to build awareness, so we looked for a number of ways to get the message out. For me, one of the easiest and most effective was to post our content into some of the many available financial advisor LinkedIn groups. The posts brought recognition and a lot of connections to my personal LinkedIn profile. Today, we not only post the content in LinkedIn groups, but we also use our Twitter handles (mine is @SEIJohnA) to share content. We also added guest bloggers from the industry and from SEI, who all share their contributions on social media. The interactions with Raef Lee, Amy Sitnick and John Frownfelter have allowed for a deeper penetration into other groups and circles and has proved to be more fun, as we banter and follow up on each other’s topics.

Lesson Learned: Finding where your target audience congregates can allow you to get your message out quicker and with more scale. You can use multiple platforms (if that’s where your audience is) and direct your audience to a web page or blog so they can learn more about you, your thoughts, and your firm. Engage with others to build awareness and possibly leverage their contacts as you interact.

3.  Make it personal.
If you have a point of view, share it. Clients and prospects are going to hire you, not your company or whoever wrote the article you posted. The more they get to know you and how you think, the more comfortable they will be with you.

4. Keep a good notebook handy.
My best ideas come from our clients and subscribers. I carry around a little black notebook filled with ideas, quotes and links to articles. By writing them down, I am rarely out of content when it is time to write my weekly post.

5. Have a schedule – and stick to it.
We post every Tuesday and Thursday evening, and subscribers receive a notification email every Wednesday and Friday morning. Advisors tell me that they look for the regularly scheduled emails as a way to start their day. By adhering to a schedule, your posts become routine and anticipated, not random. Don’t you think your clients would like to sense that you are on top of your game and organized all the time?

6. Keep it brief.
We shoot for about 800-900 words. And this one is going to come in over 850. So I will leave it there by…



John Anderson is a contributor for Practically Speaking and also serves as a managing director for the SEI Advisor Network. www.seic.com

 
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