One of the first questions businesses raise when putting together a marketing strategy is how frequently they should communicate with their customers and prospects.
Too many updates and shares risks irritating and alienating the desired audience; too few risks leaving them either feeling neglected or being distracted by other people's messages.
On the former risk, it's easy to see why people are turned off by brands and businesses that talk at them too much. Since the birth of the internet, the development of broadband and the explosion of mobile devices, we all feel overwhelmed by information already.
How often do you find yourself scrolling through your email and asking yourself: 'When on earth did I subscribe to all this rubbish? And why?" So much of what describes itself as marketing is really the digital equivalent of junk mail, spam and hard-sell.
A treasure trove of information about digital media and advertising is Mary Meeker's annual internet trends report, which this year reported increasing signs of digital exhaustion amongst a general public already feeling that they are drinking from a ceaseless firehose of information.
People are switching off social media, seeking to spend less time online and are increasingly concerned about threats from spam, privacy invasion and data tracking. Why would you, as a small business, want to add to this deluge of dodgy undifferentiated data?
The answer to that question is not so much in the frequency of your marketing and communication, but in the quality of the content. Too many firms think like marketers when, really, they should be thinking like publishers. What does the audience want and when does it want it?
Not so long ago, newspapers were delivered to our homes each day. We would grow accustomed to that reassuring thud of the paper on the front porch. It became part of our morning habit, along with coffee. When the paper didn't appear is when we felt agitated.
Newspapers survived so long as an information medium because they curated the world for us each day in a neat and self-contained format, we felt relatively confident in the quality of the information they imparted and they arrived like clockwork.
Contrast with today when information is coming at us from a million different directions at all times of the day or night. Much of it is unreliable or unmediated. Much of it is irrelevant to us. Much of it is trying to sell us something we are never likely to want.
Now think of what makes a successful business. It understands who its market is. It understands what they need. And it seeks to make their lives easier in some way.
So the key to good marketing in a world of information overload is not to market at all (well at least not in the traditional way). The key is to provide compelling content to carefully targeted markets in a reliable and regular way that engages them and makes them want to tell others.
Think of yourself as a 1960s newspaper editor. You know your audience wants the big political news on the front page, the community news in the middle and the weather and sport at the back. They're busy people, so they want you to get the point. And once you've delivered the message, they feel like they don't have to look anywhere else for the information.
For financial advisers, in particular, there's a huge amount of really useful information that they can provide to potential clients: an advisory firm can use their profile to demystify some of the complexities of finance, for example, they can explain how people can take a healthier approach to saving and spending, and they can illustrate the benefits of their own investment philosophy.
What sells it is the feeling that the information is useful, self-contained, reliable and regularly delivered. Eventually, your clients and prospects will make your regular communication part of their own daily or weekly habit.
Call it curation. Call it creation. Call it publishing. Just don't call it marketing.
Regis Media specialise in effective content marketing solutions to help financial advisers to convert prospects and keep their clients reassured and well-informed. If you're interested in how we can help you, learn more about our services here.