In 1997, I talked my way into a public relations internship I had no business getting, starting what has been a nearly 20-year career in the communications business. I’m an old-timer around my office these days, the one regaling the kids with how it used to be in the old days when we faxed press releases one at a time while spilling ink all over ourselves. I’ve seen my share of communications trends and buzzwords come and go; some useful, most not.
At the same time, I’ve seen the demands on all of our time increase seemingly exponentially. If you sometimes feel like there is always more to do, and fewer and fewer hours in the day, you’re right. But here’s somewhere where I think I can save you some time: your content.
Content, so they say, is now king when it comes to building one’s brand––and for advisors, in building one’s book. But here is the problem: most of the content I see advisors producing is, and I’ll be kind here, terrible.
And that’s not necessarily surprising because generating content is not a primary focus for most advisors. You should be good at connecting with clients, managing investments, helping people stay the course when markets go haywire as they’ve been doing in 2016, keeping families on the right path when it comes to paying for college, funding their retirement, taking care of their aging parents, etc. The percentage of advisors who one would expect to put finger to keyboard and churn out compelling content is small, and that’s okay.
In today’s market, we see too much content for content’s sake that’s lacking a clear purpose. And content without a very clear purpose, a very well-defined audience or a distinctive voice is a waste of everyone’s time. If you’re not setting out create each piece of new content with these simple facts in mind, you’re just contributing to the noise.
So is all hope lost? Should we just power down and back slowly away from our computers? Obviously not. Instead, consider the following . . .
Before an advisor starts building a content delivery approach, they should be sure they’ve conducted a thorough audit of their own communication strengths and weaknesses. In addition to running a PR firm, I also teach business communications classes for aspiring MBAs, and this “audit” is something I make each of them do before we dive into the class curriculum.
What’s part of the audit? Step one is a 30-second “elevator pitch” about themselves. (Spoiler alert: very few can describe to me in 30 seconds why I should spend 30 more seconds with them.)
Step two, after you’ve figured out how to describe yourself, determine what exactly it is you want to discuss in the content you’re planning to produce. What points did you touch on in your elevator pitch that make you unique? Those are often good places to build from when considering content ideas. The world does not need another prediction as to where the S&P 500 will be at year-end. What it does need, and what your audience will be most likely to respond to, is your own unique viewpoint, particularly when it comes across in your own voice.
Next, after you’ve built a strong list of topics that interest you, record a handful of short videos of yourself talking about the topics you’re most likely to turn into content pieces. Watch, and be prepared to cringe, but look closely at your comfort level, your body language, your word choice and how your thoughts flow, and see where there might be room for improvement.