Marketing today is all about creating valuable content. Educational information helps people understand why they need your help more than any advertisement or sales pitch will. And if content is king, the eBook and reports are its queens. Top advisors use reports to grow their email lists and start the conversation with prospects.
At its core, a report, whitepaper, or eBook is an in-depth look at a specific topic with the aim to solve a problem or shed light on a common question. A good marketing report will do the following:
- Outline an urgent concern
- Give background information
- Offer solutions that benefit the reader emotionally
- Encourage readers to take the next step
However, rather than a blog post that anyone can read, whitepapers and eBooks are often downloadable in exchange for the reader’s email address. As an advisor, this is a great way for you to establish yourself as a thought leader and grow your email list.
Most top advisors use reports, eBooks, or whitepapers in their marketing. But what’s the easiest way to create one? Let’s break down the steps you’ll take to get from ideation to publication.
1. Choose a Topic
Your whitepaper or eBook should address a popular topic among your clientele. Which questions are you asked most frequently? In which areas are investors frequently confused? What financial topics or goals are your clients most interested in achieving or pursuing?
The more specific your topic, the more successful your marketing piece will be. Instead of “Are You Saving Enough for Retirement?” try “How Penn State Faculty Can Catch Up for Retirement in a Hurry.” Specialize a post for specific employers, industries, or demographics that you serve.
If you already blog or feature content on your website, research your top posts on Google Analytics to see which get the most traffic. If you have a post that has done really well in the past, double down on the topic by creating an eBook. To pair with your topic idea, set a goal or campaign in mind. For example, you may want to create a whitepaper to send to California technology company employees on LinkedIn.
2. Use an Engaging Format
The great thing about whitepapers and eBooks is that you can format them however you like without as many limitations you may encounter when writing a blog on your website. As whitepapers and eBooks are much longer than a blog post, you’ll want to incorporate some design elements to keep your readers engaged, like charts and graphs that help make your point.
Some ideas include adding a checklist or a quiz at the end or including images and callout quotes or statistics. Including a case study is another great way to address how you’ve helped clients address the topic or hurdle you’re discussing. Once you’ve written the content, a graphic designer can incorporate these elements into the layout. Check out five top advisor’s reports for inspiration below.
3. Give Away 90% What You Know
When you set out to write your whitepaper or eBook, it can be helpful to first outline the topics you’ll cover. How long should you shoot for? Whitepapers are intended to be longer and more in-depth than a blog post, so aim for at least 2,000 words and no more than 5,000 words.
In content marketing, you’ll want to give away 90% of what you know, so the report is extremely valuable, then encourage readers to ask questions about their specific situation.
4. Don’t Forget the Small—but Crucial—Details
Sometimes we get so caught up in the writing process that we forget some of the smaller, albeit necessary, components of a compelling marketing piece. Once you finish writing the content, make sure you include a call to action at the end of each section or the end of the whitepaper.
Your call to action should encourage your readers to ask a specific question or take a particular action, such as requesting a portfolio review or taking a risk analysis questionnaire. This is how you’ll convert those website visitors into prospects and, hopefully, clients!
And along with editing the content, don’t forget to dot those i’s and cross those t’s. Make sure you add sources to any statistics or studies you reference. You may also need to add disclosures specific to your broker-dealer and submit your whitepaper to compliance before it goes to the graphic designer, so that you’ll limit the changes once the report is designed.
Work with a professional graphic designer to create a beautiful report in both a PDF and ready-to-print format. Be sure your logo, photo, and contact information is included and that the colors and fonts are consistent throughout. The cost to design a report should range from $150 to $300. The final designed version will need to go through compliance for one last approval.
6. Promote, Promote, Promote
Without a marketing campaign behind it, your whitepaper or eBook will struggle to garner much attention. To get the most traction out of your whitepaper, I recommend following a five-step promotion checklist:
Add the whitepaper to your website
This can be a landing page where you direct traffic to download your content. Add your report, along with a summary and what people can expect to learn from it. Then, have your web designer include a form for folks to enter their email address in order to download the report.
Create a series of social media posts
Write a few variations that link to your landing page. This could be posing a question or sharing a statistic. Use a social media management tool like Hootsuite to schedule these posts to publish every week or so.
Share a portion on LinkedIn
The LinkedIn publishing platform allows you to notify your network that you have published a new piece of content. You can publish a section of your whitepaper as a post on LinkedIn. At the end of the post, direct readers to download your whitepaper to see the rest of the content. Then include the link and a quick summary of what else will be shared in the whitepaper.
Announce it on your blog
Write a blog post that summarizes your blog post. You can explain what prompted you to write it (to answer questions your clients were frequently asking), why someone should download it, and what they’ll learn from it. You can also include the first section or introduction from your whitepaper as a teaser.
Send an email
Email is one of the most effective ways to get your whitepaper in front of your clients, strategic partners, referrals, and prospects. Depending on the content, you may send a different message to different audiences. For example, you may pass along the whitepaper to centers of influence, asking them to share the link with their clients. Or you might ask clients to share it with a friend who might benefit from the information.
Consider LinkedIn Messages
If you’ve created a report for employees of a specific company, you can use LinkedIn to send the report to people who work there and may be interested. LinkedIn is a numbers game, so aim to send at least 250 outbound messages sharing your report to have an impact.
Every advisor should have at least one whitepaper or eBook in their marketing toolkit. In my experience, advisors see the greatest return on their investment when they develop a very specific, thoughtful, and in-depth content piece and continuously promote it on multiple online channels.
Are you ready for a professional to help you write, design, and market your whitepaper or eBook? Pay just $450 for your first report with my eBook and Whitepaper creation services here. If you have questions, send me an email anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Claire Akin runs Indigo Marketing Agency a marketing firm serving top independent financial advisors. Claire is a former Investment Advisor Representative who holds her MBA in Marketing from the Rady School of Management at UC San Diego as well as a BA in Economics from UC Davis. It’s her goal to help specialist advisors target their ideal prospects with content marketing.