Getting published is a proven method for boosting your senior-market advisory business. But publishing—whether you’re writing articles or books—isn’t a silver bullet for growth. There’s a real risk that your writing will go unnoticed even if it’s well-written and informative. Open any newspaper, whether it’s a big city daily or a rural weekly, and you’ll probably find a column contributed by a financial advisor. Walk into any bookstore—assuming you can still find one—and you’ll find multiple financial advice books aimed at older readers. Add in the numerous websites that focus on personal finance and you can understand why your articles and books might be overlooked.
So how can you improve the odds that senior readers will notice your articles or books? And how can you promote your writing so it ultimately benefits your business? Consider these strategies:
Write for the right publications
Magazines and newspapers compile stats on their readers’ demographics: income, wealth, location, etc. Those data guide editorial decisions and help solicit advertisers whose products and services will interest the readers. You can request that demographic information and if the readers don’t match your targeted senior market, don’t waste your time writing for the publication. Focus instead on the publications that your prospects and clients read. If you work exclusively with clients about to retire or who are already retired, why bother with a magazine where the publisher wants you to write budgeting tips for young singles and couples?
It’s an obvious point, but readers are more likely to notice and respond to your writing if the subject matter addresses their concerns. If you’re writing for a publication with older readers, columns on long-term care insurance, retirement plan distributions, estate planning and so on would be a good fit.
Integrate your publications into your marketing plan
Charlie Farrell, J.D., LL.M., with Northstar Investment Advisors, LLC in Denver, published Your Money Ratios: 8 Simple Tools for Financial Security with Penguin Group in January 2010. The book received good reviews, including favorable comments from the Wall Street Journal. It sold well and Penguin followed up the hardcover edition with a paperback and Kindle version.
Despite the book’s success, though, Farrell stresses that it is only one part of his firm’s marketing plan. He and his colleagues continue to network, seek referrals, generate publicity and utilize other methods to build the business. “You generally are doing four or five [marketing] things at the same time and you try to do things you’re good at,” he says. “What I happen to be good at is writing. So that was where I chose to focus a part of my efforts but certainly not all my efforts.”
The same logic applies to writing columns and articles: Don’t expect your published work to carry the full marketing load. They can help bring in prospects and support your other initiatives, but publishing is often a slow way to develop new business.
Consider alternative forms
Articles and books aren’t the only print forms that advisors should consider, says Marie Swift, principal of Impact Communications, Inc. in Kansas City, Mo. In her experience, some advisors who aren’t suited for writing books can still benefit by writing in other formats. “Many advisors are better served by writing a white paper or a special report, something that can be promoted on their website and through a news release, much like a book,” she says. “It’s less intense, it’s less costly, it’s less of a time commitment and it can be seen just as credible, particularly if you’re talking to other people in the community that can become a part of that special report or that white paper.”
Be prepared for D-I-Y publicity
New book authors are often surprised to learn that their publisher doesn’t plan to spend much time or money publicizing an author’s new book. Although publishers typically promote a book for a limited time after its release, most of their marketing support goes to established, top-selling authors. Farrell suggests writers realize this and be prepared for D-I-Y (do-it-yourself) publicity. “That’s the tough parttrying to get some exposure on local TV, in your local paper, in financial blogs and in other media outlets where you pitch maybe one specific concept in the book,” he says. You do “whatever you can do to try to get the word out about the book and it’s a lot of work,” Farrell adds, noting that it’s helpful if you live in a large city.
Hire a book publicist if you don’t want to handle your own publicity. Their job is to help you get exposure for the book through media interviews, reviews, Web marketing and so on.
Build your web
The Internet and social media provide excellent tools for promoting your writing and leveraging the its exposure to a wider audience. Swift explains how an author might promote his or her work online. “You will want to do a news release about your book and publish it on a news release distribution service, something that’s intended for online visibility, something that will contain keywords that will boost your search engine factors online,” she says. “Then there’s a whole cross-linking strategy that you can employ to cross-link to articles about the book, the book’s website, to the news release that’s on the press release distribution service about the book and so forth. The more cross-linking you can do in today’s world will create a spider web in the sky so that you catch more visibility, whether it’s a journalist or a perspective client or a strategic partner or even a current client who’s likely to be impressed when they’re looking for particular sorts of service providers or information online.”
The same approach can work for articles. E-mail and social media such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter allow you to easily inform multiple clients and prospects about your writing. In turn, they can share the article to their contacts and leverage your distribution network.