The most underrated marketing strategy in financial planning is writing content that lets your firm talk directly with clients.
That’s the upshot from Ritholtz Wealth Management CEO Josh Brown during InvestmentNews’ FinTech Virtual Summit Thursday.
“I just feel compelled to write about my experiences,” Brown said. “All the people that are doing content for the firm are really passionate about the subject matter — so we’d be writing and producing content anyway even if it wasn’t to promote the firm.”
The inherent authenticity that is exposed through this strategy has bumped Ritholtz Wealth to manage more than $1.5 billion in assets while continuously growing a fanbase of prospects and clients, Brown said.
“When you start off with the client coming in as a fan, you’re not spending a lot of time on small talk and making them comfortable,” he said. “They’re already comfortable. They want to know: ‘Can you help me?’”
Brown has been blogging about markets, politics, economics, media, culture and finance since 2008 via The Reformed Broker, hosts a weekly podcast called The Compound Show and has written three books — “Clash of The Financial Pundits,” “Backstage Wall Street” and the upcoming “How I Invest My Money,” set to release in November.
“It’s not that we think we know everything, a lot of what we’re writing about deals with the uncertainty of the subject matter and all of the things that are unknowable,” he said. “Being willing to say, ‘alright, we’re pretty smart, but there’s a lot we still don’t know and here’s how we think about that,’ that resonates with readers.”
To date, Ritholtz Wealth works with about 1,200 households nationwide, according to Brown, and has 16 client facing advisers. “Then the other 17 members of the firm, myself included, are in support of that advisory work,” he said.
In terms of social media, advisers will only be able to benefit from those platforms if they can produce compelling content. “Writing is underrated,” Brown said. “Everyone focuses so much on Twitter and LinkedIn, but if you have nothing to say, how are you going to build an audience?”
“If you can get people to think: ‘I love when that guy writes, I always read it,’ that’s a killer skill,” Brown said. “Then you can use all the other social networks to show people what you’re an expert at.”
In turn, advisers can leverage the vast amount of curated content the firm produces to become well versed in Ritholtz Wealth’s investing philosophy and relay the best of it to clients, which leads to a higher ratio of clients and prospects.
“There are people reading my blog or listening to the podcast that in 10 years might qualify to become clients,” he said. “We’ll be there when they’re ready.”
For the firm’s advisers, this strategy has also propelled them to grow because they aren’t marketing, cold calling or thinking about where their next client is coming from.
“I will bury them in potential clients,” Brown said. “All I want advisers to do is financial planning work up front, present our portfolio recommendation and turn that initial relationship into something that really becomes meaningful over years, and hopefully decades, that’s the job description.”
With a higher ratio of clients coming in the door, that means the firm’s advisers can afford to spend more time on the front end, uncompensated, developing in-depth financial plans for prospects before they’ve paid anything.
Wealth management firms interested in implementing a similar content-based marketing strategy should start by figuring out what niche market their advisers can appeal to, Brown said.
“I try to tell advisers who haven’t started yet and are about to, that it’s going to be really hard to gain traction with a general purpose,” Brown said. “You want to be niche, you want to be an expert on a very specific subject matter, there’s still room to do that.”
But what type of content gains traction? For Brown, he said he wishes financial planning content gets the clicks, but in the current environment politics are more than likely to double engagement from clients.
“Now, after the election it’ll probably go back to people wanting to hear about stocks, ways to save money and early retirement,” he said.
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