Credibility marketing can significantly enhance a top financial advisor’s ability to successfully attract affluent clients. The idea behind credibility marketing is simple: Create and distribute content that shows your expertise at — and passion for — the key financial issues that affluent investors face.

Remember that affluent investors don’t want to feel that you are pushing yourself on them. Instead they want to be pulled in toward you. Credibility marketing creates that pull.

Increasingly, the most impactful credibility marketing strategy is to write and launch a book — and, specifically, an e-book, now that the production process has become easy, cost effective and fast.

Articles, fact sheets and other short pieces of content are great ways to leverage credibility marketing. But a book has more gravitas, and winds up being more powerful. At my own firm, we write and release an e-book every 60 days, on average, and they have been huge drivers of new business and inquiries.

Books offer other advantages as well. As a published author, you can:

  • greatly enhance your visibility with the affluent and other professionals who serve them and who could refer them to you.
  • differentiate yourself from the more than 400,000 other financial advisors out there, most of whom are not writing books.
  • give yourself a celebritylike status among target clients that prompts them to want to know more about you and your services.
  • give yourself content to repurpose and leverage on your blog or other social media.

Self-publishing an e-book, however, requires creating the right platform that puts you in control of the process.
4-STEP PROCESS

Creating a successful e-book can require a significant writing effort — for which you may not have time or inclination. However, the following steps represent an efficient approach that will result in a high-quality finished product, with far less effort than you may have expected.

1. Identify the content. Start with a broad topic that will resonate with virtually every potential reader, such as helping people solve their most pressing financial challenges. But then shape the topic to address your target clients, narrowing the topic down to a specific set of issues and solutions you will cover.

If you are trying to attract members of a certain niche — airline pilots, for example — you will want to speak directly to the issues they face and offer ideas that speak to those issues. If you are taking a more general approach, you might focus on the biggest concerns that affluent investors as a group face — preserving and protecting their wealth, mitigating taxes, transferring wealth to heirs, etc. In either case, your e-book should discuss the challenges your audience faces and offer solutions: targeted advice (estate planning strategies, for example) or a process such readers could use (such as the one you use to manage clients’ wealth). If you have conducted online or in-person presentations before, you can leverage the points and messaging used in those presentations to form the basis of your book.

2. Develop the manuscript. For the next step — transforming your raw content into a polished manuscript — many busy advisors may choose to hire a professional writer or editor.

Ask for referrals from the editors of publications focused on your niche market; these individuals typically work with a range of freelancers and are happy to provide references. Also contact professional organizations like the Editorial Freelancers Association and the American Society of Journalists and Authors. There are also online freelance marketplaces like Guru, Elance, oDesk and freelancer.com. Give your ghostwriter or editor clear instructions spelling out the order of the topics you want to present, so that they flow smoothly. Create an outline that divides the manuscript into individual chapters, sections and subsections; the freelancer can shape your content accordingly.

I suggest making your e-book quite short — no more than 30 to 35 pages. That’s a length that a reader could get through in an hour or so.

3. Create additional components. Consider other content that could keep readers engaged — including tips, charts, short anecdotes or case studies. Very often this type of content can be placed in sidebars, which makes it accessible and helps break up the density of the page. Also make sure your e-book has these basic components:

  • Title. A good title is clear, short and will convey the book’s benefit to readers.
  • Table of contents. This tells readers what information to expect and where to find it.
  • Copyright information and disclaimer language. Consider consulting with a legal professional who can help you protect your copyright and for any required disclaimer or other legal language.
  • About the author. A bio at the end of your e-book lets you tell a little bit about yourself and helps readers seek you out.
  • Endnotes. Give credit to any source you quoted or referenced.

4. Review and finalize your manuscript. Send your draft to at least five people you trust and whose opinions you respect. These could include a partner or team member, your spouse, centers of influence or long-term clients. Ask for honest feedback on all aspects of your manuscript. Consider all comments seriously and incorporate the ones that you believe will genuinely improve your work. Then have it proofread by a professional. The individual you hired to edit your manuscript may be a good resource, but we recommend that you have the final copy edit of the manuscript done by a professional who specializes in proofreading.

READY TO LAUNCH

Once the writing and editing is complete, it’s time to get your manuscript formatted and brought to the public.

First, create an eye-catching, professional-looking cover that will help convince clients, potential clients and centers of influence to download your book. You can work with your existing designer, if you have one, or your publisher. You can also check out crowd-sourcing websites; search for “book cover designs” to see several options.

You’ll also need to format your book for digital publication. The requirements from retailers change often, so you should use an e-book publishing service for this step.

Amazon is one obvious option — its Kindle Direct Publishing enables e-book publishing right to Kindle. Other resources include BookBaby and BookFuel, services that will convert your book from Word and help you with “tags” that help readers find your book.

PROMOTE YOURSELF

Finally, launch a marketing campaign that will let you leverage the book to its fullest. Here are a few ways to capitalize on your new product.

  • Host a webinar or presentation on your core topic, with free downloads of the book for attendees.
  • Create a short video trailer in which you talk about the book, and then share that with clients, potential clients, strategic alliance partners and centers of influence. Ask recipients to pass it along to anyone they think would be interested in the topic. You should also post the video trailer on your website, your LinkedIn page and on other social media.
  • Use your book cover as part of your marketing collateral — add it to your business cards, brochures, website, etc.
  • Finally, provide a print-on-demand copy of your book to other contacts, such as prospective clients, strategic alliance partners and centers of influence.

Publishing a book has become one of the best ways for advisors to demonstrate their expertise. And there are plenty of resources to help guide you through the entire process.
So put fingers to keyboard, or even voice to digital recorder. The sooner you get your book out there, the sooner you can start attracting a steady stream of ideal prospects.

John J. Bowen Jr., a Financial Planning columnist, is founder and CEO of CEG Worldwide, a global training, research and consulting firm for advisors in San Martin, Calif.

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