I recently attended a seminar on digital marketing hosted by Moore Communications Group, based in Denver. Amy McIlwain, a well-known industry speaker on the topic of digital marketing for insurance and financial services firms, was invited to speak, along with a panel of industry experts, including LifeHealthPro’s own Daniel Williams.
McIlwain, who speaks at more than 50 conferences a year and has published two books on the subject, focused her attention on the “how:” How to build your brand online. So if you’re an independent agent or advisor looking to attract the attention of those scouring the internet for the type of services you offer, read on.
1. Define your brand
According to McIlwain, a brand is what comes to mind when people are thinking about you. It’s a good — or bad — memory people relate to your brand. Other definitions for a brand:
- A brand is not a logo
- A brand is not an identity
- A brand is not a product
That’s right; a brand is none of these things. Instead, a brand is someone sees your product or service and has a story behind it. “That’s what makes a brand,” McIlwain said. “It’s a memory, a gut feeling about your product.”
2. Tell the story of your brand
Having a brand is great, but every brand needs a story behind it. So how do you tell your brand’s story? “Through content marketing,” McIlwain said.
Content marketing (or social media) is:
- A level playing field – with social media you can be as big or as small as you want to be.
- Communication without borders – you can tweet to celebrities, the president, you can connect with the media, which is a phenomenal opportunity.
- Marketing at its finest – you can actually see what’s working and what’s not. You can see where your website traffic is coming from, how many people are opening your emails, how many are coming to events, etc.
- Word of mouth on steroids – a happy customer tells five people, a dissatisfied customer tells 20. “The choice is yours to participate in social media conversations or have your potential clients listen to your competitors.”
3. Market your content
Now that you’ve put content out there, you need to market it to the right audience. Along with marketing it among all social media channels (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, etc.), McIlwain suggests companies leverage all employees as brand ambassadors.
“We are now seeing social CEOs,” McIlwain said, pointing out the fact that Bill Gates, for example, has 22 million followers while Microsoft has a relatively low 6.5 million.
“People want a human, a person to communicate with. They want the CEO to be on social media.”
McIlwain presented the “Four E’s of Content Marketing,” saying companies should be doing one, if not all four, of these things:
4. Build a strategy
Companies must have a detailed and specific strategy in place for creating and marketing their content online. “Having a content calendar in place is essential,” said McIlwain. “Whitepapers, webinars, press releases, blogs, events, core content, third party content — think of these as content assets. Then create a post promoting these assets. You can’t just hand over social media to an intern; they don’t understand your strategy and goals.”
She also suggests repurposing your content throughout the year. For example, if your company publishes a whitepaper, do a webinar around it, maybe four different blog posts on it and numerous social media updates linking to it.
“Social advertising is the future of social media,” McIlwain said. “It is changing the marketing landscape.”
Are you ready for the future?