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Credibility Marketing

Writing an article showcases your expertise and may boost sales.

By Larry Chambers

Credibility marketing is a strategy that leads qualified prospects directly to you. It works in good times and in bad. It works especially well in tough financial times.

When people feel insecure or panicky, they want to hear from an expert. The real experts have always been the men and women on the front lines of the industry—people charged with handling the day-to-day affairs and challenges of the business. That person is you.

For a consumer, reading a magazine is a way of gathering knowledge and getting advice without exposure or the need to take immediate action. Write an article that’s read by your clients, and you’ll be the first person who comes to mind when they need help in solving their tough financial problems.

First steps
Your first step to showcasing your expertise is to write a “contributed” article. A contributed article is written by someone whose experience with a specific issue provides insight or perspective to the readers of the publication. You don’t have to be a trained writer. Your experience and knowledge of the industry are more important than your writing skills.

Putting words to paper
When you sit down to write the article, consider one of the best ways to present an opinion: the problem-solution format. Your article should not pitch your service or product. Rather, it should provide readers with solutions or alternatives to the problem you have outlined.

At the beginning of the article, called the lead, identify as simply as possible a common problem or concern within the insurance or investment area. Now pose that problem as a question. Next, in the body of the article explain the ramifications of the problem in detail and offer steps the reader can take to avoid or resolve the problem. Include any relevant discoveries or recent developments that the reader may not be aware of. Provide evidence with charts if possible, findings from research studies and outside references that support your ideas. Conclude the article with a call to action, which could be an invitation, such as, “Contact the author for more information.”

Next, read the article aloud. Don’t worry if it’s not perfect. You first want to make sure you have all your information in place. The true test of success is whether or not the article answers the question you posed in the lead.

The favorite medium of the largest business-to-business advertisers is trade magazines.

Approaching the editor
Now you are ready to present your article idea to trade magazine editors using a query letter. The query letter is a simple, one-page letter that proposes the article idea, states the author’s qualifications and makes a short case for why the magazine’s readership would be interested in the article. Send it by mail or email to the editors of trade magazines your clients read. Like you, many of your business clients may skim a consumer magazine, but 95 percent of them read one or more trade publications, such as Advisor Today.

By their nature, trade magazines provide a certain amount of credibility to the information they publish. There are more than 26,000 trade and association publications in the United States, excluding the growing number of online magazines. They’re all hungry for good editorial content.

You might be surprised to learn that the favorite medium of the largest business-to-business advertisers is trade magazines. Consumer magazines rank far behind them, in second place. To succeed in a brand-conscious world, advertisers go where research tells them to go. You can copy their tactics.

Persistence
If the editors of one magazine reject your article, don’t stop there. Try other magazines. Contact the editors and ask them what they’re looking for. They may help you rework the material or give you suggestions for another article. Either way, the conversation will enlighten you and open up the possibility that they may call on you in the future as a resource.

A case in point
Does writing articles really build credibility? A successful marketing effort results in sales. A couple of years ago, I followed this formula and wrote an article for the spokesman of a medium-sized financial planning firm. We placed his article in a small trade magazine. A reader in Dallas referred the article to a friend who owns a large investment practice in Houston. The approach presented in the article resonated with the businessman, who arranged to meet the author. Since credibility had already been established, the meeting moved quickly.

Within three months, as a direct result of the article, the businessman transferred $63 million of assets into the author’s firm. Now that’s success!

Larry Chambers is a writing coach and author in Ojai, Calif. You may reach him at Lchamb007@aol.com.

 


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