How Financial Planners Can Use Content Marketing to Generate Referrals
An asset of all professional firms is the expertise, knowledge, and experience of advisers. Too often this wealth of
knowledge is only used in advising individual clients, or in presentations to small groups of existing clients. Yet this knowledge can be developed into a powerful on-line marketing asset by
implementing Content Marketing campaigns.
Whilst Content Marketing is the popular term for this approach, I prefer the term Education Based Marketing (EBM) as it
more accurately describes the intention of the approach – to provide educational content. ‘Educating the client’ is not giving clients the tools to do-it-themselves.
EBM content explains issues and topics that are important to target clients. It provides insights demonstrating that the
adviser understands the issues relevant to clients, and has the required expertise to deliver advice based solutions. It does not go into the ‘how to’ details.
EBM leverages and promotes the expertise of the firm by publishing free EBM items, e.g. articles, blog Posts, and videos,
that are created by advisers. These items contain content and educational messages directly relevant to target clients in terms of their needs and interests. It is not product focused but educational
EBM items can be distributed as standalone items or as part of a structured Drip-feed Marketing campaign that delivers
multiple items over a period to reinforce the positioning of the firm.
Education Based Marketing supports the branding of the firm as advice based. It does not use a traditional advertising
approach which focuses on achieving a sale. These older messages featured a sales spiel. EBM focuses on ‘educating’ the client and positioning the advisers as experts on subjects that are directly
relevant to them.
The specialist expertise and knowledge of the adviser is developed into items that are published as part of the overall
marketing strategy. EBM does not have to replace traditional marketing; but is a very cost effective means of using new digital platforms to reach clients. EBM items can be published in off-line
formats, such as hard copy mailings.
EBM items validate and reinforce the positioning of the adviser as an expert. The Internet provides multiple formats for
demonstrating adviser competencies across multiple platforms, without the traditional geographic restrictions. The clients of tomorrow are out there, you just need to make it easy for them to find
you, and then value the content you publish.
The 3 pillars of Education Based Marketing are:
1.Educate clients in your expertise with free content.
2.Understand the attributes of EBM items.
3.Fully exploit viral distribution and Drip-feed Marketing.
EBM Pillar 1: Educate clients in your expertise with free content
Clients and prospects must understand the expertise of the firm and their adviser in terms of its application and
benefits. Advisers do not want to be defined in terms of their function, but the value they add. Often clients will associate their adviser with the immediate advice they consume. They need to be
aware of the full range of advice delivered by the firm.
EBM items reinforce the need to engage professional advisers to achieve the right outcomes. Target clients are usually
high income earners in occupations that make them time poor. For example, they are too busy to do their own financial planning, they invest their efforts in careers and their
The more content the firm and advisers produce, the more publishing options there are, e.g. a series of blog Posts becomes
an e-book and a presentation or webinar.
EBM Pillar 2: Understand the attributes of EBM items
EBM items have the following attributes:
They communicate the expertise of the firm in a form that educates existing and prospective clients on subjects that are
relevant to their needs and interests.
The educational content is directly linked to the advice and services of the firm.
Target clients value the expertise. The expertise is insightful, and in many instances, assists clients to make informed
decisions, or reinforces decisions they have made.
The items communicate that the firm understands its clients and the issues relevant to them. It does this by not only
presenting facts; it provides insights, often through actual client case studies and examples.
The content is written at a level that is suited to the client.
The items are distributed in many different formats, e.g. written article, PDF report, blog Post, e-book, audio, and
The EBM articles strengthen the brand of the firm as a specialist on its chosen subjects.
The content is free, it is not a sales spiel or a reworked advertisement.
The content does not directly ‘sell’ the firm’s advice. It contains calls-to-action which specifically appeal to the
target audience and are focused on building relationships and delivering value.
The content does not contain any sensitive intellectual property.
Clients may just skim the item and not read it thoroughly, however this still reinforces the adviser as having expertise
on the topic.
The content encourages recipients to share it with their networks.
It can be distributed by Centres of Influence and other referral sources.
Example – Hard copy booklet – in 2006 I published 1,000 hard copies of a free booklet on business strategy at a
cost of $3,000 for typesetting and printing. This was my first (and last off-line) EBM campaign. It also cost me $1.50 to mail a copy, plus the cost of a covering letter, compliments slip, etc. Today
the digital distribution of content is not only a fraction of the cost, but allows content to be distributed immediately and with greater reach.
EBM Pillar 3: Fully exploit viral distribution and Drip-feed Marketing
The reach and effectiveness of EBM campaigns is maximised through viral distribution and Drip-feed Marketing
Viral distribution is the forwarding of emails and the sharing of on-line content by the initial recipients. For
example, a client shares a Facebook Post by an adviser with their friends.
EBM items are ideally suited to being distributed over the Internet or via email because of their digital format. In most
instances, it is just a click away from being shared. If the item is of value, recipients will share it with their networks or the contacts who they believe can benefit from
Delivering EBM items in a digital format is a cost-effective method of marketing and communicating with clients. It is
also used to encourage the recipient to forward the item to people they know who may have an interest in the topic.
Forwarding emails and sharing social media content is known as Viral Marketing.
EBM items provide existing clients with a resource when referring or recommending an adviser to their family, friends, and
Example - Viral distribution of an article within a corporation – a client, aged in his 50s, used email to share an
article written by his financial planner with twenty two other senior executives in the corporation where he worked. The client did this because he felt the article on transitioning to retirement
would be of interest to his fellow managers, who were mostly in their 50s. Two of the recipients ultimately became clients of the financial planner. The item was educational and demonstrated the
adviser’s competence. There was a call-to-action at the end of the item offering a no-obligation discussion with the adviser. The original client did not have to go and personally recommend the
adviser, all he did was write a quick email recommending the article.
EBM campaigns can consist of a single item, e.g. a report emailed as a one-off to existing clients. Alternatively,
several EBM items can be delivered to clients and prospects over a scheduled period to consistently reinforce the positioning of the practice as a specialist. This form of regular EBM communication
is known as Drip-feed Marketing.
The material from this is taken from the free PDF Download Financial Planner’s Marketing Blueprint available from