Determining what role educational content plays in their marketing is an important question for every financial advisor to answer for themselves. There can be a concern that providing too much education defeats the purpose of marketing which is to engage new clientele with paid services. If you give it away for free, doesn’t that devalue your professional advice?

When executed properly, educational marketing is not only an effective marketing strategy, it is one of the best ways to establish yourself as a credible expert and a service professional with a uniquely differentiated service offering.

Demand for Educational Content

Consumers want to be educated. In a recent survey when asked what they wanted to receive from their time spent with marketing material, 68% of potential clients said they wanted content that informed and educated while only 11% said they wanted to be entertained.

Especially when it comes to topics of personal finance, knowledge is perceived as incredibly valuable and motivating. Another study found that potential clients were 131% more likely to engage a service professional immediately after reading content they considered educational.

Goals of Educational Content

Providing your prospects and clients with educational content serves many purposes. Obviously, it can be very engaging and increase the perceived value of your marketing material. It can also improve many aspects of your company’s relationship with its audience of potential clients. There are a whole litany of objectives achieved by good educational content:

1. Establishes Authority and Credibility – More than anything else, educational content establishes you as an expert in your field. By increasing the amount of trust and respect you are perceived to command, you work towards creating a relationship of trust with those that interact with your material.

2. Qualifies Leads – Educational material is a great way to make sure that the prospects you are attracting qualify as your ideal clientele. Unlike open-ended and innocuous marketing material, educational material requires a certain level of knowledge and familiarity with the topic while also filtering out those that are not attracted to your specific area of expertise.

3. Decreases Buyer’s Remorse – When a client has spent some time with your educational material they have given you a tremendous opportunity to inform them of what the experience of engaging your services will be like. This is a great way to make sure they know what they are getting into. Think of your educational content as the trailer, and your services as the main attraction.

4. SEO – Educational content gives you a chance to organize your online presence around the language that your potential clients are typing (or speaking) into search engines. By answering the questions that they are asking Google, you will increase your position on search engine ranking pages and earn more exposure to a larger audience.

Elements of Commercial Education

In the book The Challenger Sale, Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson make a strong distinction between simply educating people and providing something they refer to as “commercial teaching”. The main differentiation is that commercial teaching all leads to establishing the value of your unique service offering. It not only demonstrates your expertise but showcases your unique take on the issues that are most important to your audience of prospects.

Four steps to take to initiate a system of commercial education are:

1. Lead to the solution’s unique strengths (defendable strengths) – Your service offering is made of a series of features. Think of yourself as a piece of software that has specs describing exactly what it will do for a person. Take time to understand what the individual aspects of your offering, then create educational content that demonstrates why your features are so important to your prospects. The best way to do this is by illustrating the benefits they will experience from each feature.

2. Challenge the customer’s assumptions – One of the most powerful ways that you can demonstrate your effectiveness is to show a prospect you can not only solve their problem but that the problem was completely different than they originally thought. In neuro-linguistic programming, this technique is called reframing. It involves changing a person’s perspective by providing them with truly insightful material.

3. Catalyze action – make something happen – Educational content is not just informative, it is inspiring. When a prospect feels they have been armed with new actionable insights they do not need cajoling in order to take the next step, they are excited to engage. Knowledge is power so be sure to provide a clear path for your new clientele to exercise their newly acquired power and take action.

4. Scale across customers – Online marketing allows you to create content for a massive audience. There is no limit to the number of people you can educate and inspire. Use distribution strategies like social media and email marketing to reach the largest number of people possible and continue to grow your audience by collecting their information and including them in nurture campaigns.

Educational content is a powerful technique that can take your online marketing efforts from a perfunctory exercise to a real avenue of growth for your advisory. Take the first steps today to populate your website and online profiles with valuable commercial educational material and watch as the velocity of your marketing efforts begins to take off.