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Someone recently crinkled their nose at me and asked, “You’re an operations and technology/business consulting firm – why do you waste so much time on content marketing?”  It’s a fair question, and one I was proud to answer.  We do spend a lot of time writing articles, white papers, blog posts, etc. and sharing them on social media on a regular basis.  To date, our blog contains over 175 practice management articles covering topics ranging from Operations and Technology, M&A, Best Practices for Running an RIA, plenty of articles covering the Breakaway/RIA Set Up process, and once in while we throw in an Eddie Van Halen article.  Our goal, for anyone keeping score at home, is to publish 48 pieces of unique content per year, which includes 16 articles written for industry publications, two white papers, and 12 COO Roundtable podcast episodes per year.  This, of course, is in addition to our consulting work with clients.  Mr. Crinkly Nose wanted to know “If the client work is what pays the bills, why spend so much time and energy creating this stuff?!?”

The quick answer is simple: because it’s fun.  If we enjoy sharing our thoughts with the industry, why not continue?  The second, and somewhat longer answer is: What do you think consulting is?  It’s writing articles, blog posts, white papers, and producing a podcast!  The Google definition of Consulting is, “engaging in the business of giving expert advice to people working in a professional or technical field.”  In 2021, where does one go to “engage in sharing advice” – THE INTERNET!  We create content because we are consultants.  The articles, white papers, and podcast episodes are our consulting work, not in addition to or at the expense of our direct interaction with clients.

The third answer is an important one: creating content makes us better consultants.  Forcing yourself to put your thoughts into writing on a particular topic in a clear, concise, and engaging way, demands that you research and understand the topic and have distilled your own thinking around it.  When a client asks me a question over the phone (or Zoom), I can respond with an answer – but to go back and reflect on that answer, flesh it out with more detail, put it in writing, and edit and revise the writing until the concept is clearly explained, it makes me that much better for the next client that asks the same question.  And, when I respond by phone to a client (or a prospective client) with my answer to their question, I also can say, “I hope that answer made sense.  We’ve actually written about this very topic – let me send the article to you so you can not only have listened to my answer, but you can read it as well.”  That client is going to benefit from learning from us not only verbally, but visually as well.  And they can refer back to that article at a later date, as many times as needed.

For this reason, we choose to write our own articles, as opposed to outsourcing our content creation.  There are many qualified marketing firms that offer to write articles and manage a firm’s social media activity, and that makes sense from a scalability perspective.  I fully understand how and why business owners conclude that they don’t have time to write their own content and distribute it themselves.  But for the above reasons, I feel it is extremely important that we handle all of this in-house.  There is a price to pay for finding the time to dedicate to not only writing your own articles, but researching other relevant industry-specific articles that you can share on social media to not only learn from, but expand your credibility as an “expert.”  In my mind, the costs of handling content marketing yourself far outweigh the scalability benefits with outsourcing the function.

The fourth answer is also an important one: content marketing is our primary business development tool.  Not only does our content allow us to (hopefully!) get our name in front of new prospective clients, should they stumble across an article we have written about a particular topic they are researching or perhaps was sent to them, but by regularly publishing new content and regularly sharing relevant articles that others have written, we keep the PFI Advisors brand top-of-mind for prospective clients.  Anyone responsible for sales understands that the biggest challenge is to be in front of the right person at the exact time they are in need of your services. 

You can continue to call a prospective client over and over again, hoping the time is eventually right and they happen to need your service now, but more often than not, it doesn’t happen that way.  By continuing to share quality and relevant materials published by your firm or others, and sharing it via social media and email, your brand stays top of mind to your prospective clients so that when that magical moment does occur and they are finally in need of your services, you will be the first call they make.  As our friend, Christopher Norton, recently published in, “The challenge is no longer sales, but rather connecting advisors to (your firm’s) content.”  When Mr. Crinkly Nose told me we were “wasting our time,” I pulled out the list of our current clients and not surprisingly, I was able to tie each one of them back to our content marketing strategy.  Yes, we are a consulting firm and not a marketing firm, but every business needs a pipeline of new clients to spur its growth – we’ve hitched our wagon to the Content Marketing horse to pull our business and drive growth.

As a consulting firm, we can say that we offer “expert advice to people working in a professional or technical field,” or we can prove that we have expert advice to offer by displaying a library of 175+ articles, white papers, podcasts, etc.  As stated above, when a prospective client calls and asks, “Can you help me with my particular problem?” we not only can provide guidance over the phone, but we have the ability to dip into our library of content and prove to them that we possess a full understanding of the issues they are challenged with.

The fifth and final answer to why we work so hard at our Content Marketing strategy is simply: it is highly rewarding.  Just in the past few weeks we’ve received the following feedback from various advisors and industry centers of influence:

“Your posts across various mediums and resources you’ve opened up have become my go-to for everything and anything RIA-related. So, thank you for grinding it out for the benefit of the rest of us!”

“We wanted to reach out and thank you for all of the great content. We’ve gotten a lot of value from your team’s guidance and integrated many suggestions into our business.”

“Thanks for all your contribution to our industry and RIA Firms!”

“The infographics you share on LinkedIn highlighting quotes from your guests on The COO Roundtable podcast give me a boost of energy and remind me why I do what I do (as a COO) – they keep me motivated, so thank you for sharing!”

The process of creating content “sharpens our saw” and hones our skills as consultants, drives new business, and provides a feedback loop that continually reminds us of our “Why” and makes us work even harder for the benefit of the industry.  Why on earth would we ever slow down or consider that a waste of time?