Content marketing is a valuable and effective method of consumer engagement, outpacing the traditional strategies many businesses have come to rely upon. Research has shown the majority of internet users would rather learn about a product or service through content versus traditional (print, TV, radio) advertisements. Chances are, most of you are already engaged in some form of content marketing, be it through press releases, blogging, or social media posts. While the overall goal for any marketing strategy – content or traditional – is the same, there is one aspect that separates the former from the latter – storytelling.
The concept behind story-driven content marketing is simple – deliver the message in a way that resonates with the people you are trying to reach. Note that we use (and emphasize) the word “people,” rather than “consumer” or “prospect” here. This is an important distinction to make, especially for financial professionals. After all, you’ve built a career around your ability to make personal connections with clients, so why wouldn’t you use a marketing strategy that does the same?
Humanize Your Message
Like any other entrepreneur, you are selling a product – financial advice, life insurance policies, annuities, etc. Beyond that, you are offering something far more significant – peace of mind, protection, and the financial security to retire without worry. These are more than just buzzwords we see used frequently in ad/marketing campaigns, they are real goals set by real people. While facts, figures, percentages, and stats are all an important part of the overall persuasion process, not many people find data to be very emotionally compelling.
A good way to capture their attention is to lead with a narrative that focuses on the overall value of financial services/retirement planning, rather than you specifically. Tell a story based on the goals, concerns, situations, pain points, and – ultimately – solutions that many people experience on their journey toward retirement/financial independence. Remember, at this point, you’re trying to engage; not sell. Keep things loose and low-pressure, but close with a call to action. Once your well-crafted and emotionally-relevant story draws them into your funnel, follow up with more detailed and specified content geared toward their situation.
Fine-tune Your Message
Before launching your story-driven content marketing campaign, there are a few key things to remember:
- Be Concise: A little creativity and flowery language is fine and can often help drive the emotional aspect of your content, but don’t go overboard. Your narrative should be well-rounded, but short, to the point, and easily digestible. Definitely avoid using jargon and industry speak until they get a little farther along in the funnel.
- Be Real: Most people can smell a hard sales pitch a mile away. This is one reason why more businesses are moving away from traditional marketing in favor of content marketing. A good story-driven campaign shouldn’t come across as an obvious advertisement, but more of like a conversation that gets more personal with each interaction.
- Be Credible: Not only should your narrative feel real, it should be real. Using a real-life scenario as the foundation of your message can bring a sense of authenticity to the table. Clients who have given referrals or testimonials are a good source for this. Reach out and see if any might be willing to share their success stories (just be sure to leave out any personal information).
**Side Note – This tactic can also be used for agent/advisor recruitment campaigns. Who better to speak on the benefits your agency has to offer than current employees?
Delivering Your Message
The medium used to deliver your content can be just as important as the content itself. While blog posts and/or emails might be ideal for written content, you shouldn’t limit yourself to one or two delivery methods. If you aren’t camera shy, consider repurposing your content as a script for a short video to post on social media and your website. This will let your audience put a face with your name and, hopefully, build a little trust and credibility in the process.
Another thing to keep in mind is that “story-driven” doesn’t have to mean “long-form” content. A well-designed mailer or graphic posted on social media that uses compelling imagery and minimal text can be just as effective as a two or three-paragraph narrative. Whatever method(s) you go with (we highly recommend using more than one), stay focused on making meaningful and emotional connections with your audience.
It’s Your Turn
Have you delved into the world of story-driven content marketing? If so, did your efforts pay off? What worked for you? What didn’t work? If your campaigns could benefit from a little outside support, or if you just want to brag about your latest success, feel free to get in touch. We’d love to hear your story.