Publish or Perish

Establishing credibility with your clients, prospects and potential professional business partners

By John Bowen, founder and CEO of CEG Worldwide

To build credibility, advisors should create and publish an article on a topic that’s near and dear to their clients. Here’s how to brainstorm in 30 minutes.

Establishing credibility with your clients, prospects and potential professional business partners is the most effective form of marketing you can do. Building credibility with these groups actually pulls them to you and makes them want to work with you-which means you no longer have to push yourself on people to get new business. One of the most powerful ways to establish credibility is to publish an article that shows your expertise in identifying and solving financial problems your clients face.

If you can show people that your ideas are valuable enough to be in print, they will see you as an expert whom they should work with. And we know from industry research conducted by Russ Alan Prince that expertise is crucial. In fact, 91% of affluent investors said that an advisor’s overall expertise is one of the key factors to consider when deciding whom to work with.

Go Fast

Of course, most financial advisors aren’t professional writers and therefore think it might be challenging to write an article. Certainly you can hire a freelance writer to help you create and position content.

But the fact is, writing an article probably isn’t as challenging as you think it is. In our coaching programs, we offer advice on article writing based on the insights of one of our faculty members, Larry Chambers, who has created a system that can have you creating quality content in around 30 minutes.

The whole point of the 30-minute article approach is to go fast and let the creative right side of your brain run free, so it doesn’t get shut down by the more rational and judgmental left side. The process involves six steps:

1.Name the issue. Start by writing down your client base’s biggest challenge or concern. It might be preserving wealth, achieving a comfortable retirement, minimizing income taxes, taking care of heirs, protecting wealth from lawsuits or any number of key issues that investors today are facing. Don’t overthink it-write down the really big issue that first comes to mind.

If you serve a particular niche, you can identify specific concerns. For example, Aaron Rubin, an advisor with Werba & Davis Advisory Services in San Jose, Calif., identified the key issue facing his niche of senior public accounting partners-downward pressure on incomes-when he recently wrote an article using the process. Also, remember that this article isn’t about you. Don’t write down the biggest challenge you personally face with clients-focus on your clients’ financial concern.

2. Identify the problems. Write down three problems or adverse conditions that result from the main challenge or concern you first identified. The problems should be what you hear your clients talking about all the time, creating anxiety.

Rubin, for example, wrote down that accounting partners have been forced to cut staff, initiate pay cuts and cash out of their businesses at lower valuations than they desire-jeopardizing their retirement prospects in the process. Again, do this process quickly and freely-don’t spend an hour trying to come up with three things.

3. Address the obstacles. Now ask yourself: What are the major obstacles that my clients must overcome (or bypass) to solve the three major problems they’re facing? These might be difficulties approaching the question (as in how they would begin to solve it every day) or tactical obstacles that tend to arise along the way.

For Rubin, the obstacles included CPAs often trying to do all aspects of financial and business planning themselves instead of working collaboratively with other experts. Another obstacle that will likely be present, regardless of the article topic, is finding trustworthy people that investors can work with to help them solve their concerns.

4. Propose the solution. Next, write down the steps that will help your clients reach the ideal outcomes. Quickly write down a word or phrase that describes each step (you can return later and flesh out the content with more detail or add charts and graphs).

This part is relatively easy-it basically will be the same process you use every day to solve these particular problems for your existing clients. You should not offer generic advice, but instead provide solutions that you actually have delivered in these situations.

Depending on how you work, you might provide how-to components of the solution that build on each other, a list of resources or examples of the results of going through the process. At any rate, you should take readers through a sequence of instructions that can help them solve the problem. In Rubin’s case, he spelled out his consultative wealth management process to his readers.

This information will communicate that you have a defined and proven way to address the concern-which in turn will further establish your credibility as a problem-solver. Don’t directly say how wonderful your process or solution is, or build yourself up personally-the reader will assume that since you wrote the article, you can deliver what you describe.

5. Illustrate the issue. Next, think of a personal experience that illustrates the problem your article is focusing on. This experience should be able to evoke both emotion and reason in response to the issue.

You might, for example, describe a hypothetical example of an executive who lost tremendous wealth because of overexposure to his company’s stock-and how much better off he and his family would have been if he had diversified effectively. Using examples like this will establish a strong connection between you and your readers-and put meat on the bones of your article.

A brief story or anecdote from your personal experience can turn a seemingly vague or academic concern into a real-life issue of great importance. Usually this anecdote is best used as the “hook” at the start of an article to draw readers into the broader ideas and solutions you will discuss later on.

That said, it can also make sense to place it at the end of the story-after the solution-as an illustration of what you’ve just discussed. That’s what Rubin decided to do in his article when he profiled a top accountant who put too much of his savings into expensive annuities. Once you have the article assembled, read it a few times to see where the anecdote seems to fit best.

6. Summarize it all. Sum up your conclusion with information readers can use. List some key action steps that you suggest readers take to help them solve this problem in their own lives. One such step might even be: Find a financial advisor who can guide you through the process. The more clearly and forcefully it is stated, the more likely readers will remember your advice and act on it-and the more you’ll appear as an expert on the topic.

Finally, choose a title for the article. If you go back and skim through what you’ve written, you’ll find that a good title will jump out at you.

Finding Your Voice

These six steps should take you anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes, and they will result in a strong rough draft, which you can then improve. For example, once you’ve finished an initial draft, read it closely, analyzing your “voice” as well as the actual content. Do you come across as authoritative, decisive, professional and personable? Are your words accessible to the average reader?

Writing in your own voice gives your article energy and verve. This is one way in which writing quickly helps: Your writing will be much more natural and reader-friendly if you let it flow freely instead of stopping after every sentence to see if it’s perfect. You’ll also make a strong impression with an editor as well as with your readers.

Finally, go back the next day and rewrite anything that needs to be finished. If necessary, beef up the article until it’s around 1,000 words or so. You should also enlist someone in your office (or a freelance writer) as a fresh pair of eyes to read your article and make editing suggestions. Then your article will be ready to go.

Source: CEG Worldwide.

Reprinted from: Financial Planning

About the Author

CEG Worldwide’s founder and CEO, John Bowen has long been known as a leader in the area of adding value to financial services firms. Bowen started his career as an independent broker-dealer representative and then became a fee-based financial advisor. He was ultimately named the CEO of Reinhardt Werba Bowen (RWB), a money management firm that helped other financial advisors raise billions of dollars in assets. In 1998, Bowen became CEO of Assante Capital Management upon the acquisition of RWB by Assante. He left Assante to start CEG Worldwide in 2001, in order to help advisors realize substantial success through the use of CEG Worldwide’s business development systems.

He is the author of many books, including Breaking Through: Building a World-Class Wealth Management Business and The Prudent Investor’s Guide to Beating the Market.