As an advisor, one of our most crucial but difficult challenges is figuring out how to get new clients to grow the business. In recent years, several new digital platforms have emerged with the aim to bring consumers and advisors together - allowing advisors to showcase their knowledge by answering consumer questions, with the hope of acquiring new clients. However, as I've warned advisors before, building your digital marketing presence on third-party websites can end badly, and this week's abrupt shutdown of NerdWallet's Ask An Advisor platform is a case-in-point example of what can go wrong!
In this week’s #OfficeHours with @MichaelKitces, my Tuesday 1PM EST broadcast via Periscope, I discuss marketing lessons learned from the news that NerdWallet's Ask an Advisor Platform is shutting down - particularly the risks associated with building your digital marketing strategy on "borrowed land", and what you should do instead to succeed in the long run.
For financial advisors that were using the platform, NerdWallet's announcement to shut down their Ask an Advisor platform came as an abrupt surprise. The personal finance site had started out providing credit card comparisons back in 2009, but in more recent years had branched into other channels, from bank accounts and mortgages, to offering a platform where consumers could ask financial questions and financial advisors could respond to those questions, in the hopes of gaining some visibility and possibly even a new client. But, with only three days notice, NerdWallet suddenly announced resources were being allocated towards other company priorities, and advisors will lose the ability to respond to questions, or even directly edit their profiles, after March 31st.
Notably, this is precisely the type of risk that I've warned advisors about for some time when it comes to building your digital marketing strategy on someone else's platform. Advisors who have poured their heart and soul into the Ask an Advisor platform suddenly have to start their digital marketing strategy all over again from scratch. And the reason they have to is because they built on someone else's platform. If you're an advisor on NerdWallet, you just lost all of your equity value from the content you built, even though NerdWallet can continue to monetize your content by placing ads for their products, their solutions, and their advertisers next to it. That's the risk when you create value but don't retain control of it because it's on someone else's platform!
Now, certainly digital marketing can be an effective strategy for advisors, but the ultimate point of all of this is that if you want to succeed in the world of marketing online, it's not just about creating content to demonstrate your expertise, but retaining control of it so you can build on it over time. Which not only avoids the risk of having the content disappear when some other company decides to "reallocate resources" elsewhere, but also ensures that you have the ability to control how the prospect experiences the content, and the call to action they get at the end! Which is what really drives new client results!
In the end, building on your own websites means that you own the traffic, you own the SEO value, and you can create the call to action that turns readers into bona fide prospects – all without worrying whether you are going to lose control of the platform or your ability to engage a prospect in the future. Don't be a digital sharecropper. Build a foundation you own, you control, and that you can leverage to turn your audience into real new client business!