You can grow your business primarily through content marketing and word of mouth instead of paid advertising. In the second half of this video I cover how content marketing and word of mouth can save you money and grow your brand affinity and sales long term. Read on below the video for the breakdown.

Inbound vs. Outbound Marketing

Zoom out: it all comes down to an inbound/outbound marketing dichotomy and finding the right balance for your business.

Let’s use a financial advisor / RIA (registered investment advisor) as an example. As a financial advisor, CPA, CFP, or anyone advising clients, you need leads in order to grow AUM. You want qualified leads. Leads become customers. Customers grow your business.

What is AUM?

Assets under management (AUM) is the total market value of the securities a financial institution owns or manages on behalf of its clients. It’s a KPI (key performance indicator) for financial advisors.

Let’s say your strategy is mainly outbound marketing, an advertising heavy stance including direct response, digital display ads or homepage takeovers, push promotion, mailers, dinner events, buying email lists, radio ads, and paid search or Google Ads.

Predictions for financial advisor marketing in 2021 include:

Related: Robert Sofia put together an expert list of predictions for advisor marketing in 2021. I was happy comment on voice marketing, but everyone had helpful points across all channels (email, social, webinars, etc.). Plus each prediction is under 200 characters (quick). Good info here on
2021 Advisor Marketing Predictions: 36 Must-Read Insights From the Experts

Skip to my prediction for financial advisor marketing in 2021

Consumer trends in attention and trust have shifted away from push marketing and toward content (pull/inbound). Suffice it to say that people don’t trust ads—they trust their friends, family, or people in their network.

Diminishing Trust in Advertising:

These days, we don’t trust ads. That goes for social activity that feels/reads like an ad:

Self promotion: “Look at me” types of posts

vs. what you should do instead:

Adding value: “Hey, this may help you…”

In fact, I can’t get over these stats I discussed on The BeanCast. Zingers from recent Edelman Trust Barometer and Kantar research:

  • Advertising and social media face fresh trust issues amid global crisis
    • Advertising is the least likely source people would use to garner information about a business, with just 14% saying they trust advertisers in this respect.
    • Just 17% of respondents cited Facebook and Twitter as a reputable source for news.
    • According to the Trust Working Group research, public favorability towards advertising was just 25% in December 2018. In 1992, that figure was 48%.
The average U.S. adult spends 11 hours per day on a screen.

Your Marketing Strategy:

You need a marketing strategy that links all your inbound marketing (i.e., content marketing, such as blog posts, your podcast, YouTube videos, IGTV, and/or social media). If your content is done right, all you have to do is share it and more qualified leads will come in naturally.

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How to Approach Blogging and SEO:

With blogging in particular, you’ll improve your SEO (search engine optimization) and get more organic traffic. Yes, search engines are smart enough to reward relevant, helpful content. They dock keyword stuffing and tricky tactics to game them. Alphabet’s market cap is over $1 trillion and Google is one of the most successful companies on earth because it is THE BEST AT SEARCH. You will not game the system. Just fix your website and write better posts. Put in the work. Your content will rise to the top if you do it right and are patient. That applies to the traditional search results of blog posts, to video on YouTube (a huge content marketing opportunity), and to voice search as that takes hold (with over 30% of searches done by voice in 2020, this matters too.)

But remember, doing this right isn’t as simple as just blogging, putting words down, guessing at a title, and hitting “Publish”. You need to understand how to lay out content, use formatting, use meta tags, use images, do keyword research if appropriate, and how to share the content effectively.

Read more tips for marketing your podcast like a pro.

For example, check out my client Nine Labs’ content marketing, including their blog, podcast, webinars, and social media presence (@ninelabs). Nine Labs President and Founder J Cornelius and his team cover topics on UX and design in a highly strategic way to attract attention from a specific customer target: project managers at a certain type and size of company in three industries.

And they have put in the work to deeply understand the pain points of their target and to write or talk about relevant topics. J will get the right leads from his content, from appearing at conferences or panels, from going onto industry podcasts, and from putting in the work to create valuable content over years; not from a Facebook ad or paid search.

It takes time to get it right and you need to let it build and snowball. Content marketing doesn’t happen over night. Start yesterday. Stick with it.

Nearly 80% of users ignore paid ads in search resultsPeople tend to prefer organic links more than paid ones, and of the links search users click, about 70% are organic.

Hubspot, 2020 Marketing Statistics

For example, look at the successful content marketing business results for my past clients Josh Brown and Barry Ritholtz. They reached $1B AUM for their firm Ritholtz Wealth Management in six years with a content marketing strategy featuring blogging, social media, YouTube, and podcasts. They did not advertise. They did not spray and pray. They didn’t need to because their content was so popular.

VIDEO: Josh Brown and I talk about my Alexa and voice marketing strategy for Ritholtz

Inbound marketing lets qualified leads find you because you will appear where they’re looking, in the moment they want/need your services.

Toddler girl leaning on glass reflective door
Inbound marketing is centered around qualified leads finding you organically through your online content such as blog posts, videos, or social media. Photo by Jerry Wang on Unsplash

Outbound marketing tends to be interruptive and has a low conversion rate for financial advisors (but can work for them and many industries). Sometimes paid search or display ads can be cost effective but these have diminishing returns because you have to continually reacquire those leads. I.e., you pay every time to get that paid click as opposed to writing one blog post that gets free organic inbound search traffic over many years. It’s also a lot more trustworthy than ads and builds brand equity to go to the content route.

Inbound puts you in front of the target as a solution when they are seeking it. Those leads are far more qualified, too. And they will follow you, share your content, and engage with you over time. Simply put, they will like and trust you more than any ad.

People spend 11 hours a day on their screens. Most of it’s on social media. You need to grow your social presence if you want a long term audience and brand visibility. Hear more about personal branding and your business on social: my TacoTech Podcast guest episode: The Power of Voice

The key point from the above content marketing video is that content is highly effective for bringing in qualified leads. People don’t trust ads. People mostly hate ads (mainly bad ads). And most ads are bad. So stop relying on ads. Ads can be helpful and a part of your marketing mix but they can’t be your only tactic because you’ll be on a never ending CAC (cost to acquire a customer) hamster wheel.

Want help? I advise clients on marketing strategy and offer fractional CMO services. Here are the brands I’ve worked with including Fortune 500 and small businesses. Here are featured case studies from my consultancy, Beetle Moment Marketing.

Book a consultation with me.

In the mean time, get free advice (yes, that content marketing I’m talking about!) in my daily flash briefing / mini podcast, Voice Marketing with Emily Binder.