Out­sourc­ing Your Mar­ket­ing

How to use blogs, videos, pod­casts and so­cial me­dia to boost your busi­ness.

Financial Planning - - Contents - BY DAVE GRANT

How to use blogs, videos, pod­casts and so­cial me­dia to boost your busi­ness.

For solo ad­vi­sors, re­sources are scarce. There’s only so much time and money avail­able. Of­ten, we out­source tasks that don’t pro­duce rev­enue to free up more time for tasks that do. I have spent the past 18 months out­sourc­ing most of my mar­ket­ing ac­tiv­i­ties — with vary­ing de­grees of suc­cess.

When I started my RIA in 2013, I knew I wanted to fo­cus on in­bound mar­ket­ing. That would in­volve pro­duc­ing my own con­tent — text, video and au­dio — and com­mu­ni­cat­ing with per­sonal fi­nance me­dia out­lets.

My goal was to pro­vide con­tent that could be con­sumed at any point by peo­ple who found me. And once pro­duced, the con­tent would gen­er­ate busi­ness with­out need­ing fur­ther ef­fort. But as my prac­tice and other busi­ness ven­tures have taken up more time, I’m not able to fo­cus as much on these mar­ket­ing ac­tiv­i­ties. So I de­cided to out­source them to other pro­fes­sion­als.

Find­ing a Writer

I love writ­ing, but it takes time and en­ergy. I’m not ar­ro­gant enough to think some of my per­sonal fi­nance writ­ing can­not be done by some­one else, and this al­lows me to keep pro­duc­ing pieces that cre­ate rev­enue. In look­ing for some­one to write my RIA blog, I started with sites such as Up­work.com and Free­lancer.com. Writ­ers on these sites have feed­back from past clients, so I made sure to choose those who were highly rated.

I found some who were CFPS and oth­ers who were sea­soned writ­ers. I then gave each of them the same blog post to write.

It’s amaz­ing how the same con­tent can be so dif­fer­ent when var­i­ous peo­ple tackle a given topic. Some tack­led it from an ed­u­ca­tional as­pect, oth­ers looked at the tech­ni­cal parts of the sub­ject and one turned it into a hu­mor­ous piece.

After re­view, I went with a writer who wasn’t trained in per­sonal fi­nance but had a mes­mer­iz­ing use of lan­guage in her ex­pla­na­tions and charged a rea­son­able price.

I worked with her for a year, pro­duc­ing var­i­ous pieces of con­tent. After 12 months, how­ever, I knew I wanted my con­tent to go deeper into spe­cific re­tire­ment top­ics, and she wasn’t the right fit. I found a re­tired CFP who was writ­ing to sup­ple­ment his in­come. He was great at tech­ni­cal writ­ing, but he was not the right fit for the softer tone I was look­ing for.

I have spent the past 18 months out­sourc­ing most of my mar­ket­ing ac­tiv­i­ties — with vary­ing de­grees of suc­cess.

I then de­cided to go into the per­sonal fi­nance com­mu­nity it­self. I wanted to find some­one who had the knowl­edge for these is­sues — or knew when to ask for guid­ance. For the past year, I’ve used Zoe Meg­gert at Per­fectly Planned Con­tent. She works with other fi­nan­cial plan­ners and knows the top­ics I want to cover. Plus, she was able to find my voice very quickly.

Con­tent De­sign

Another time-in­ten­sive task is craft­ing graph­ics for all of the pieces and cre­at­ing a dis­tri­bu­tion frame­work. While so­cial me­dia sched­ul­ing tools such as Hoot­suite and Buf­fer can be used to do

the job, main­tain­ing a so­cial me­dia pres­ence re­quires a con­tin­ual load­ing of con­tent.

The writ­ing was a joy, but when it came to con­sis­tently cre­at­ing images and set­ting up dis­tri­bu­tion sched­ules, I did not fol­low through. This be­came a ma­jor bar­rier to distribut­ing con­tent. Who’s go­ing to see the con­tent if it’s not distributed?

Meg­gert took over this process. She would source images, up­load con­tent to my web­site and im­ple­ment a dis­tri­bu­tion sched­ule through Twit­ter, Face­book, Linkedin and Pin­ter­est. This was not only done for writ­ten work, but also for video and au­dio pieces.

Lead Gen­er­a­tion

Gen­er­at­ing leads has al­ways been a work in progress. While I have var­i­ous sources for them, I am al­ways look­ing to in­crease their quan­tity, qual­ity and fre­quency. I de­cided to put some of my mar­ket­ing bud­get into lead gen­er­a­tion pro­grams to un­der­stand how they work and what value each of them pro­vides.

Ini­tially, I looked at four plat­forms — Brewer Con­sult­ing, Copi­lot, Smar­tas­set and Cas­tor Ab­bot — be­fore nar­row­ing it down to two.

They all had dif­fer­ent ap­proaches. Brewer Con­sult­ing’s ap­proach spanned var­i­ous so­cial me­dia plat­forms and spe­cial­ized in at­tract­ing niche leads us­ing con­tent and cold in­tro­duc­tions via Linkedin.

Copi­lot au­to­mat­i­cally con­nects you with peo­ple on Linkedin, specif­i­cally down to job ti­tle, lo­ca­tion and the com­pany they work for. It au­to­mates in­tro­duc­tions and a fol­low-up mes­sage for you, and no­ti­fies you of any po­ten­tial con­ver­sa­tions.

Smar­tas­set uses their own web­site and lead fun­nel­ing to pro­vide qual­i­fied leads for up to three ad­vi­sors in a cer­tain ZIP code ra­dius, and the ad­vi­sor is then charged with at­tempt­ing to con­tact the lead and start con­ver­sa­tions. Cas­tor Ab­bot uses au­to­mated video sem­i­nar mar­ket­ing, along with so­cial me­dia ad­ver­tis­ing to gen­er­ate qual­i­fied leads.

It’s amaz­ing how the same con­tent can be so dif­fer­ent when var­i­ous writ­ers tackle a topic.

They also had very dif­fer­ent min­i­mum price points. Cas­tor Ab­bot wanted a $10,000 ini­tial fee, while Brewer started at $3,500, and both stated there were on­go­ing costs for soft­ware plat­forms needed for their cam­paigns, and ad bud­gets needed on var­i­ous plat­forms. These costs started at $400 per month, but could go above $1,000 once ad­ver­tis­ing bud­gets were ac­counted for. I also had philo­soph­i­cal dif­fer­ences about mar­ket­ing with one of the founders of these com­pa­nies, so it be­came ob­vi­ous I wasn’t go­ing to use them.

In ad­di­tion, I did not want to com­mit that much cap­i­tal upfront, so I went with Smar­tas­set, which let me set my bud­get at $500 per month, and Copi­lot at $200 per month.

After three months, I no longer use ei­ther pro­gram. I dis­cov­ered the un­der­ly­ing soft­ware plat­form that Copi­lot was us­ing and now use a sim­i­lar plat­form called Jet­buzz.io for a frac­tion of the Copi­lot cost. It also in­cludes more fea­tures than Copi­lot ini­tially of­fered, so I feel like I’ve got a good sys­tem in place.

I liked the idea of fo­cus­ing on Linkedin. It’s a good place to start con­ver­sa­tions with peo­ple who fit my tar­get de­mo­graphic. Smar­tas­set de­liv­ered good po­ten­tial leads, but the con­ver­sion rate of con­nect­ing with these peo­ple via phone or email was very low.

Out of 15 leads, I was able to con­nect with two of them for a brief dis­cus­sion, which re­sulted in no busi­ness. All of these leads stated they were in­ter­ested in find­ing and work­ing with an ad­vi­sor, so this was dis­ap­point­ing. I don’t re­gret spending more than $1,500 on this lead-gen­er­a­tion ex­per­i­ment, as it given me a good idea of what I want to fo­cus on in the fu­ture.

What I Couldn’t Out­source

Un­for­tu­nately, I couldn’t out­source ev­ery­thing. I wanted to keep pro­duc­ing video con­tent and a pod­cast. I looked into the costs of us­ing a video stu­dio and hir­ing an ed­i­tor, but it went be­yond my bud­get. Plus, I had al­ready built up a mini-stu­dio at home and had learned to use video edit­ing soft­ware.

To com­ple­ment the video and writ­ten con­tent, I re­pur­posed this con­tent into “The Five Minute Fi­nan­cial Plan” pod­cast. The process of get­ting con­tent ready for a pod­cast, record­ing, edit­ing and con­vert­ing the file typ­i­cally takes about 90 min­utes. I record the pod­cast in batches and can get three pod­casts recorded and pro­duced in three hours, at no out-of-pocket cost to me.

When it comes to my mar­ket­ing strat­egy, the only thing that re­mains on my plate is to record these videos and pod­casts, which takes me about 10 hours per month. I dis­trib­ute mul­ti­ple pieces of me­dia each week, but the amount of time I’ve freed up by out­sourc­ing my writ­ing, con­tent dis­tri­bu­tion and lead gen­er­a­tion is ex­ten­sive. The cost is well worth it. If I can then spend this time gen­er­at­ing rev­enue, it quickly pays for it­self now and into the fu­ture.

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