One of the hottest trends in marketing in recent years has been brands acting as publishers. There are some compelling reasons behind this approach.
Capturing the attention of your target market in an increasingly noisy world is hard work. It can be expensive too, especially when measured on a value for money basis. We are all exposed to so much advertising on a daily basis that we have become skilled at automatically tuning most of it out.
The marketing messages from some brands still get through, but they require the sort of budget and multi-channel approach that financial planners are unlikely to find affordable.
Like me, I suspect your clients ignore the web banners and the pop-up messages that assault our senses when we visit our favourite websites. Some will go as far as installing ad-blocking software to take these adverts out of the equation altogether.
So instead of throwing a limited marketing budget at ineffective print or online advertising, we are forced to find more effective routes to the market. By becoming a publisher, we take responsibility for creating and sharing the content our prospective clients want to see and read.
In practical terms, this means diverting advertising pounds to time spent writing blogs and articles, filming videos for YouTube, and recording audio podcasts. The relatively small number of financial planners who have embraced content marketing and behaving like a publisher are already reaping the rewards.
A different format
One approach to consider when acting like a publisher is to write, design and publish your own magazine. I’m a huge fan of undertaking marketing activities that have a perceived high barrier to entry. It’s why I created a feature length documentary movie back in 2013, watching YouTube videos to learn how to film, edit and fund such an endeavour.
Publishing a magazine has a high perceived barrier to entry because it’s viewed as the domain of traditional publishers. It doesn’t take much investigation to realise the tools to create your own magazine are readily available, low-cost and very easy to use.
I’m not talking about slapping your logo and address details onto a white-labelled generic magazine. These tend to be an expensive way to produce something clearly not authentic of your brand or key messages. Instead, I would urge financial planners to create their own client magazine filled with unique content.
We recently published the second edition of our client magazine, which you can see in all of its digital glory at icfp.co.uk/magazine. As well as the online version, we pay for a limited print run of 500 copies (on recycled paper), which are posted with a personalised cover letter to our clients and professional connections. We also display copies of the magazine at a few local venues and hand them to prospective clients.
The trick is to pack the magazine full of content your clients actually want to read. We pull this off by asking our clients what they would like to see in the next edition, and also by brainstorming within our team to come up with ideas for articles. Our magazine is a mix of financial planning and lifestyle content, along with plenty of news from what we do here at Informed Choice.
The feedback from clients and professional connections has been excellent, with several asking for extra copies they can pass to friends or family to read. From a marketing perspective, it’s a far better spend than allocating that money to an advert in an established magazine which is likely to be ignored.
The printed copy of the magazine also helps cut through the noise by creating a tangible item to place in the hands of our prospective clients. We are all bombarded with so many digital marketing messages that moving our message ‘offline’ in this way becomes a point of difference and very effective.
In any professional services business, it can be hard to demonstrate to prospective clients that you are better than alternative options. Demonstrating you are different to the others, by taking the initiative and doing what your peers are not, is a very effective way of securing new client relationships.