Great content is at the heart of successful inbound marketing. It helps clients and prospects find you online, learn from you, talk with you, and trust you as an authoritative figure in your industry. Creating content that counts is a critical first step in designing your digital marketing plan.

In the old days, content was typically in the form of letters, direct mail and seminar presentations. Today's content has evolved for new platforms and ways of sharing information. There are several types of content that you might deploy on your website, social media platforms and email newsletters, including blog posts, infographics, slide presentations, articles and podcasts.

Some of this content you will want to create yourself, but much of it you will probably just want to curate -- that is, organize and deploy content that others have created.

No matter how you obtain it, all the content you deploy should follow the prime objective of inbound marketing: Address the concerns of the potential client with valuable information. In other words, your content should answer your prospectsÂ’ most pressing questions.

Begin your content creation with an evaluation of your potential clients. Rather than asking yourself, "How can I get my message out to high-net-worth individuals?" consider the following questions instead:

  • What is my target market worrying about right now?
  • What content would best address those concerns?
  • What questions are they Googling?
  • What is their biggest financial concern?

HOT BUTTONS

This kind of marketing approach requires some research up front. You will need to listen to your current clients and understand their concerns. You may be surprised to find that what you have been talking about is not exactly what they are worrying about.

Make a list of topics that you want to cover and then choose content that you think would best communicate that subject.

For example, if you want your clients to consider rolling over their IRA accounts, you might find an infographic that shows how many Americans are doing that right now. Or, you might find a video that tells the story of a couple who makes that move and benefits. You might prepare an article that presents more detail about the options available or post a blog about your experience with a client who procrastinated on this and suffered a few losses as a result. You could even create a list of 10 mistakes to avoid when rolling over an IRA.

As you create and curate content, consider the following key principles that are used by the most successful communicators in every industry. Use these keys to unlock the power of content that strengthens relationships and builds your network.

1. Tell Stories

Let's face it: Your clients don't care about your marketing goals. But everyone likes a good story! People will be drawn to you as you tell your story through your digital media and as you encourage them to share their stories as well. The most successful advisors know how to weave stories into their websites, social pages and presentations. Surprise your digital visitors by sharing a few pictures and brief stories that illustrate a point.

2. Create communities

One of the hallmarks of inbound marketing is the goal to generate conversations. As you reach out with valuable information, you should always ask for comments and questions and make it easy to respond.

Speak to the comments you receive in a blog post or online presentation, or by posting content about it on your sites. (Say something like: "I received a great question the other day about the future of the Roth IRA. Here is a video addresses that.") Even though most advisors are restricted from online conversations, you can use your content platforms to let clients know that you're listening to their concerns and that you have something interesting to share in response.

3. Build Your Brand

Like it or not, you are a brand. Your business has a certain feel and flavor to it. The design and style of your website should reflect (and even enhance) the feeling clients get when they come into your office. This builds your personal brand. In order to build your brand, be consistent across all your platforms with your message. Your colors, your photography, your mission statement and your supporting content should look and feel the same on your website, social pages and your mobile app. This doesn't mean you have to say the same thing everywhere, but it does mean that your clients should be able to recognize your brand wherever they see it.

ART OF INBOUND MARKETING

You can see how this kind of content creation could become a full-time job, but it doesn't need to be. If you are affiliated with a broker-dealer, you receive lots of valuable content through that channel. In addition, there are outstanding articles, infographics and quotes that can be shared with your audience. (Be careful, however, about linking to other websites; this requires your visitor to leave your site in order to view content. Once they're gone, they're gone.)

When creating and curating content, break out of the mode of wanting to reach people with just your name and services. Instead, concentrate on preparing valuable information that will educate them and keep them coming back for more. That is the art of inbound marketing.

Craig Faulkner is CEO of FMG Suite, offering a complete inbound marketing solution for financial professionals. You can follow him @fmgsuite on Twitter.

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