July 18, 2012

Why Blogging Should Replace Newsletters for Financial Planners, Pt. 2

At the core, producing a newsletter or a blog are simply different ways to accomplish the same thing

In the first part of this post, we discussed the benefits of blogs vs. newsletters. In today’s post, we’ll explain the “blog cycle” and how to go about transitioning from a newsletter to a blog.

By publishing content via a blog, a virtuous cycle begins to build over time. Content is produced for the blog and distributed via social media (and other) channels, giving the planner or firm the chance to engage with prospects, connect through the content, and have the content shared with others. This in turn leads to new people who begin to follow the blog and see the next blog post, and the cycle begins anew. And of course, the interaction with prospects can also provide the inspiration for new blog content to reach the prospective client audience.

It helps to make the point that it doesn't make a lot of sense to do just one part of the cycle. Just “being” on social media isn't very helpful, if there's not a blog to point back to and a way to keep prospective clients engaged. New "followers" and "fans" (i.e., more prospective clients) won't follow you and what you have to say if you're not producing content to share with them. 

Yet at the same time, for a content marketing approach to work, it needs to grow an audience and reach new people—a significant failing of the traditional newsletter approach that is constrained by how quickly the planner or firm can gather names. In today's digital world, distributing and sharing content on social media—and allowing readers to share and distribute content through social media—is simply a radically faster and more efficient means of reaching people, not to mention an effective means of ongoing drip marketing.

Transitioning from newsletter to blog 

The reality is that for firms already producing a newsletter, the transition to a blog is a relatively easy process. In the case of my financial planning friend, where his firm was already producing several articles on a quarterly basis for their newsletter, the first step of the transition was simply to shift from several articles a quarter to one article a month. The total content being produced didn't even increase; it was just a shift in the timing and schedule. As each new article was produced, it went up on the blog attached to their website, instead of the newsletter. Social media accounts were created to share the content, and the growth cycle began.

Notably, the fact that a blog was started didn't mean the old newsletter had to disappear. Instead, producing the newsletter simply became a process of gathering together several months' worth of blog content, and "repackaged" it into a newsletter style and format. Again, because the content was already being produced, the marginal cost and effort to reproduce it in another format is often relatively easy.

Although as the firm discovered in this case, the list of blog "followers" grew so much more rapidly than the old newsletter list had grown, that they soon transitioned entirely to the blog and dismissed the print newsletter for good! Instead, they simply allowed the monthly e-mail notification of new blog content to become their "electronic newsletter" drip marketing going forward.

So what do you think? Does your firm currently produce a newsletter for clients? Do you see the advantages of distributing the content via a blog instead? Have you already made the transition to a blog? What was your experience? 

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