The Client Situation
CEG Worldwide is the number one coaching organization in the financial services industry. No one has coached more elite financial advisors than this firm. No one has deeper insights into the practices and strategies that separate elite financial advisors from up-and-coming advisors. CEG Worldwide had invested heavily in market research not only about top-performing financial advisors, but also about the affluent families and individuals who prefer these advisors.
This research had yielded many nuggets of wisdom that executives at the firm had utilized for years to attract new clients. CEG Worldwide executives had written books, published white papers, written articles in industry trade publications and conducted dozens of webinars.
So it only made sense for them to take this content strategy to a new level through a micro-site. The idea was sound. CEG would partner with SourceMedia, the number one publisher in the financial services industry, and produce a micro-site called Elite Advisor Forum. With CEG’s content and SourceMedia’s access to more than 250,000 financial advisors across three publications, Financial Planning, On Wall Street and Bank Investment Consultant, there was no way this venture could fail.
The Shattuck Group’s Recommendations
Randy Shattuck led the effort to define and build the micro-site, working closely with CEG Worldwide’s CEO, John Bowen, and executives from SourceMedia. After a few meetings with CEG staff and SourceMedia leaders, Randy recommended a four-part strategy:
- Define the content structure of the site to optimize engagement.
- Build an editorial team and editorial calendar.
- Create a compelling brand identity for the site.
- Promote the site through email newsletters, email blasts and print advertisements.
At the outset of this project, there was a great deal of uncertainty about which forms of content would be popular and which would be ignored. To increase the likelihood of success, it was decided that blog-post-style articles, audio podcasts, videos, white-papers and webinars would all be utilized.
The Service Package
The Shattuck Group (TSG) deployed four key services for this engagement.
- Lead Nurturing
- Content Marketing
- Brand Identity
TSG’s Positioning service helped focus all efforts for this engagement around the ideal client: elite financial advisors. The goal of the micro-site was to tantalize elite financial advisors, those who earn more than $500,000 a year in net income, with CEG’s insights. From content ideation to brand identity to promotion, the imperative was clear. Pull elite financial advisors to the micro-site and engage them with insights they had likely not encountered before.
TSG’s Lead Nurturing service helped focus the editorial team on the top goals, opportunities and challenges of elite financial advisors. Working closely with editorial staff, and over the course of several meetings, TSG helped build a very robust editorial calendar. This calendar included a list of articles, videos, webinars, audio podcasts and special promotions every month. Each month had a specific theme that guided the selection of content ideas. The monthly themes all related to a goal, opportunity or challenge of an elite financial advisor.
TSG’s Content Marketing service was used to create high-value content assets and the special promotions needed to drive engagement of those assets. It was decided that CEG would utilize a webinar monthly with a notable figure, sometimes from within the financial services industry but often from outside the industry. Some of these notable figures included Steve Forbes, X-Prize founder Peter Diamondis and Broadway actor and playwright Bo Eason.
In addition to the webinars, TSG also helped CEG build special promotions that included videos and downloadable tools. These gated resources were targeted toward specific goals of elite financial advisors and contained rich insights based on CEG’s proprietary research.
TSG’s brand identity service contained a Big Idea that wrapped all visual elements into one compelling family look. From the structure of the main website to email newsletters and special promotions to full-page print ads, the look and feel for the micro-site was distinct and memorable.
The Client Results
Within just 6 months of launch, the micro-site was abuzz with activity. More than 10,000 subscribers joined the newsletter. Thousands of financial advisors attended the high-profile webinars. The articles, videos and podcasts were well-received as evidenced both by page visits and average time on site.
But then, after a year, CEG Worldwide pulled the plug. Why? Here are the two key lessons we learned from this engagement.
The first lesson is that content is not enough. While the content was well-received, it did not stimulate forward movement in the sales funnel to nearly the degree that everyone had hoped. Financial advisors came to the site and clicked around to all sorts of different content. But they did not clearly see the connection between the content and the company behind the content – CEG Worldwide. After a year, CEG Worldwide could not show, in any appreciable degree, an increase in enrollment in their coaching programs as a result of this micro-site.
The lesson learned from this is that brand matters. It was likely confusing to financial advisors about which brand they were seeing. Was it the Elite Advisor Forum brand or was it the CEG Worldwide brand. The other lesson learned is that placement of content matters.
TSG believes that if the same content had been placed on the CEG Worldwide website as was placed on the Elite Advisor Forum site, and if the services associated with the content had been featured in a side-bar on those pages, the connection would have been much stronger and more evident to prospective ideal clients. The evidence of this is that CEG has continued to produce content similar to what was featured on Elite Advisor Forum and has placed that content on their website. The result is that services associated with the ideas in the content are now clearly understood and their coaching programs are growing.
The second lesson is that not all forms of content are equal. TSG studied the analytics of content consumption very carefully every month for the duration of the micro-site. It quickly became evident that the content was popular, as evidenced by page visits, according to this taxonomy:
- Blog-post-style articles
- White papers
- Special promotions
In fact, over 90% of all traffic went either to webinars or blog-post-style articles. But in terms of business development goals, nothing came close to the effectiveness of webinars. While the site may have garnered 25,000 unique visitors in any given month, only a small portion of those visitors opted into dialogue about CEG Worldwide’s coaching programs. Of those who did opt-in to dialogue, more than 75% came from webinars.
While this micro-site did not produce the desired results for new business development, it did enlighten this client about the best way to use content to attract and engage with prospective ideal clients. By altering business strategy and content marketing efforts, CEG Worldwide has leveraged these lessons learned to drive enrollment in their coaching programs.