When it comes to creating content, it’s all too easy to waste your time and miss the mark. Why? Because your content isn’t reader centric.
Readers don’t care about how many awards you won or how many letters are after your name – or what those letters mean, to be honest. They care about how well you understand their problems and if the solutions you offer will solve those problems.
That’s why you’ve got to understand your reader before you start writing content.
Who is your reader? Your reader is your ideal prospect.
Who is your ideal prospect? Individuals – or couples – from the area of your practice that you most want to grow.
When you invest a bit of time into creating an ideal client persona, that investment will reward you in numerous ways. For our purposes today, it will help you create targeted content that lures prospects into your sales funnel.
Because prospecting involves a long sales cycle, this won’t be a one article and done process. Instead, it’s a multi-year campaign, where you continually reach out to prospects with content that directly relates to their concerns.
Eventually, at least some of them will reward you with a request for an appointment.
Today, you’ll learn how focus on a growth area in your practice, create a generic profile of an ideal client and, finally, build out a story about that ideal client. With that information in hand, you’ll be that much closer to creating a bank of content that you can use to increase your appeal to your target audience.
Step #1: Focus on a growth area
You want to attract prospects that help you grow your firm. Every advisor has a different definition of what that means.
Begin with a baseline that shows you where you are now – in other words, what does your CRM tell you about your current client base?
Then, consider whether a composite or average of that client base is a growth area for you or not. Also, whether that’s the growth area that you want to pursue going forward. Once you’ve decided on a growth area, make sure it’s specific.
For example, if you’re an advisor who focuses on retirement income planning, you probably want to attract more pre-retirees and retirees who are in a fairly early stage of retirement, since these are the types of clients where you can have the most impact.
Perhaps your current client base reflects that focus, or maybe not. Regardless, ask yourself these questions as you start defining that target market:
- What are these readers worried about?
- What do they want to know?
- What will they relate to?
- What is likely to turn them off?
You need to put yourself in your reader’s shoes to the greatest extent possible. That shouldn’t be difficult, as you likely deal with clients and prospects with similar backgrounds and challenges every day.
Step #2: Create a generic profile
Then, construct a detailed reader personal that includes characteristics such as:
- Marital status
- Sexual orientation
- Geographic location
- Pain points
Make this your own, filling the data that fits your idea client persona. Here’s how this might work for an advisor who works with government employees and related industires in the greater Washington, DC area:
- Gender: Male or female
- Income: $375,000
- Investable Assets: $1.5 million
- Age: 55 to 62
- Occupation: Federal government employee
- Marital status: Married
- Family: 2-3 grown children
- Geographic area: Washington, DC, suburban Maryland or Virginia
- Interests: Family, tennis, traveling, cycling, cooking
- Retire at age 62
- Travel in Europe
- Pay for children’s weddings
- Relocate to the coast
- Turning savings into income
- Managing chronic health condition
- Paying healthcare expenses
- Helping children financially
Step #3: Build out a story
All those facts are a great start, but you’re not quite there yet. It’s time to breathe life into that set of facts, to create a narrative. Here’s how that might work with the set of information above:
Steve and Beth, who are 55, married after graduating from Penn State Main Campus together. Beth is a senior auditor with the U.S. Government Accountability Office and Steve is a lobbyist with Bank of America. Their joint income is $385,000 a year. They have three grown daughters, Kathy, Cary and Sarah. Cary is engaged and planning a wedding over Memorial Day weekend next year. They live in a four-bedroom colonial in Bethesda, an exclusive suburb inside the Beltway.
They are avid tennis players and fans. They belong to the Georgetown Prep Tennis Club and travel frequently to watch professional tennis matches. They also belong to the Potomac Peddlers, a cycling group. They enjoy cooking and travel yearly with college friends from Penn State. When they retire, they hope to relocate to the coast, potentially in North or South Carolina. Steve suffers from Type 1 Diabetes.
Beth manages their finances and investments. They haven’t worked with a financial advisor previously, but are considering entering into an advisory relationship because they aren’t sure if they’ve amassed enough savings to retire at age 62. They are also concerned about health insurance, given Steve’s health situation, and future healthcare expenses.
What’s the point in creating such a detailed reader persona? You now can filter your writing through what matters—and what doesn’t matter—to Steve and Beth. Are Steve and Beth, for example, worried about running out of money in retirement? Not really, with Beth on track to receive a government pension and a considerable amount of investable assets.
Are they concerned about affording their tennis travels while paying for a wedding? You bet! Do they wonder how they will cover Steve’s healthcare expenses if they retire before Medicare eligibility? Definitely! Might they also be worried about covering future healthcare expenses later in retirement? Yes!
The bottom line
Developing a reader persona forces you to be highly focused in your writing. That’s important, because your time is valuable and you don’t want to get off track.
Every time you write an article or blog post, or record a video or podcast, you can run your content premise by the equivalent of your Beth and Steve narrative. If it’s something they acare about, great! If not – don’t write it.
Stay tuned for the rest of this series, where you will learn how to turn brainstorming into content titles, create a content calendar, leverage an article/blog template to write more quickly and distribute your content to capture your idea reader’s attention.