“We are big believers in PR, we think the lift that [asset management] firms can get from actively participating is pretty valuable. It’s cost-effective as well, and financial advisors view it as a highly effective tool to enhance the relationship.”   

When you work for a public relations firm, that’s a statement, as made by Fuse Research Network’s Mike Evans on a webinar Tuesday, that makes you, well, want to promote it!  

It’s not the first time Fuse has reported on the value of PR, but the reaffirmation by the firm’s latest Advisor Trend Monitor data is welcome. The Marketing Support report is one of six conducted in the annual series, representing the views of more than 500 advisors across all channels. 

Apart from being aligned with Fuse on the value of PR, I always look forward to the Fuse work because it tends to zero in on specific, timely questions that are on the minds of financial services marketers. They’re a reflection of the pulse that founder Neil Bathon, as well as Director of Advisor and BenchMark Research Evans and his team, have on the business.  

How much content is “enough” for advisors? That’s a question bandied about quite a bit. Within firms, one camp may argue for super short blog posts. Videos shouldn’t be longer than 45 seconds, others opine.  

In some cases, Marketing will lead the charge for shorter everything in an attempt to make the content creation effort more palatable for reticent contributors. Sometimes it originates with outspoken salespeople critical of long form content. 

Digital marketers, including the web team on the receiving end (is that all there is?), know that short content is in opposition to Google’s helpful content guidelines. “Helpful content” needs to have substance in order to provide website users a satisfying experience, according to Google. Unhelpful content won’t rank well, we have been warned. 

Happily, the Fuse data shows that advisors value substance. 

The optimal length of a blog post 

Advisors prefer written content between two and nine minutes, Evans reported. Half of advisors say an optimal length blog post will take them at least two minutes to read. “Anything 60 seconds or less isn’t going to drive value,” he said. (For marketers, this does beg a question: if advisors are willing to spend at least 60 seconds on a blog post, what’s the average time they spend on your posts?)  

Advisors will go even longer with portfolio manager commentary, value-add and whitepaper content. About 45% of advisors across all channels say the ideal length of a video is between three to five minutes. One in four advisors say they prefer one to two minutes, while less than 10% like a video 60 seconds or shorter. 

“Something that they’re able to consume but also feel that they’re getting enough out of the content is important,” said Evans. He added that Fuse also surveyed on video production issues, with advisors showing a sensitivity to the quality of both the speaker and the video and audio. 

You’ll want to listen to the 22-minute webinar in its entirety. Here are a few additional insights that jumped out: 

  • No surprise that product fact sheets continue to be the most valued content. I don’t fully agree with Evans that fact sheets don’t differentiate firms. Sure, they’ve standardized over the years, but an analysis of fact sheets within a given Morningstar category will still reveal some differences in the data being made available. Also, there continues to be variance in how soon firms publish fact sheets after the quarter-end. 
  • Overall, advisors value thought leadership after fact sheets and value-add. Wirehouse advisors prize thought leadership more than value-add? Interesting. 
  • On the subject of value-add, business-building techniques ranked toward the bottom of the list, much lower than I’d expect. Economic or market insights top the list, with retirement income distribution, tax planning and portfolio analysis in a three-way tie for #2. 
  • “Podcasts are all the rage,” Evans said, commenting on their popularity especially with advisors aged 60 and older. Almost 50 percent in the cohort listen. Highest adoption by the oldest demographic is the converse of what’s usually seen in social media research. (To get an idea of what those one in two advisors may be listening to, see our directory of investment podcasts. For more on advisors’ use of social media, see our recent post on their abandonment of Twitter. 

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Pro Tips for Newcomers

Are you onboarding new hires in PR, media relations, content marketing or digital marketing this summer? This collection of pro tips from our seasoned pros may help with their orientation.