Outside-IN

Boost your reputation with content marketing

To choose a project, look at such factors as the market you're targeting and your expertise

Mar 11, 2019 @ 9:00 am

By Sheryl Rowling

Getting new clients is all about reputation. Reputation is your most important asset. Doing a great job for your current clients is, of course, the best reputation builder. But to stand out, you need to do more, whether that's an article in a local paper or something on social media. My firm has found that content marketing is a great strategy.

Let's start with a definition: according to the Content Marketing Institute, "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." Simply put, content marketing is creating an informative resource that will help boost your firm's reputation with current and potential clients.

Choosing a content project depends on several factors:

• Which market you want to target.

• Where you have expertise.

• How your resource will be valuable to the audience.

• How your resource will produce value to your firm.

My firm's first content marketing project focused on employees of a local company. Our clients from this company were consistently great clients, meaning they were profitable and enjoyable to work with. To attract more of them, we decided to address the employees' general confusion with their employee benefits. We created (in-house) an easy-to-understand guide with recommendations and explanations. Considering our four factors, the benefits guide:

• Targeted potential clients from one company.

• Highlighted a key area of our expertise.

• Was a resource that would be appreciated by the employees of this company, and

• Was a low-cost way to entice prospects to our firm.

We sent the guide to clients who were current or former employees of that company and promoted it on social media, and it has been paying off. Not only were our current clients thrilled with this resource, they shared it with their co-workers and friends. All that added up to new prospects coming through our doors!

(More: The 7 secrets of content marketing)

The other content project we tackled was more ambitious — writing a book. Our firm was celebrating its 30th anniversary and we wanted to commemorate it with something special. We decided on a book, considering the four factors as follows:

• A basic, fun-to-read financial book that would target current clients, their kids and friends, as well as the broader referral community.

• Since our expertise is multifaceted, the book would highlight our "one-stop shop" offering.

• Our book would be a good resource for anyone interested in improving their financial situation.

• The book would help solidify our firm's reputation, thereby making our current clients more "sticky" and encouraging referrals and new prospects. The additional benefit would be the pride employees felt from co-authoring a real book!

Everyone in our office worked on this project. Because we had a stockpile of previously written blogs, we had much of the basic writing done. With the help of a self-publishing company and the talents of our staff, we had our book, "Your Financial Travel Guide To Life," completed within six months! Not including staff time, which I estimate at about one week of time for each employee, the costs of the publishing and printing totaled less than $20,000.

Our book has been a big hit and it has brought in many new prospects who turn into clients — especially next-gen clients!

Content marketing doesn't have to be expensive or overly time-consuming to be valuable. It is a great way to give back to your community while helping out your own business.

(More: 5 New Year's resolutions for advisers)

Sheryl Rowling is head of rebalancing solutions at Morningstar Inc. and principal at Rowling & Associates.

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