Despite being "hugely useful" in helping to attract new clients, explains consultant Phil Bray, case studies are often overlooked by advisers as content to use on their own websites.
User experience, images and content are all key ingredients in making a great adviser website, says Bray (pictured), but case studies that illustrate how clients have been helped by the firm are often overlooked as part of the mix.
While some advisers may believe they are "too time poor" to produce case studies, they are well worth the effort.
"Marketing should not be seen as a cost but an investment," says Bray. "If it is seen as a cost, then it is being done wrong as all marketing should offer a measurable return.
"Advisers can either write case studies themselves or they can outsource the task. If they decide to outsource, they could still view it as freeing up more time to earn more money."
Here are six reasons Bray believes case studies are winning pieces of content for adviser websites.
1. Show the type of people you work with
Arguing one of the main functions of a firm's website is sell the idea of working with the adviser to potential clients, Bray highlights the old adage "facts tell, stories sell". "The best case studies are those that feature real clients," he adds.
While acknowledging many advisers may be reluctant to ask clients, Bray knows from experience they are much more comfortable to be featured as a case study than might be expected.
"You won't know until you ask," he continues. "Sure, they might want some details changed to avoid revealing too much confidential information but they are often happy to help."
Another option, he says, is to base the case study on problems a client may have had but with sufficient details changed - including, of course, the name.
Bray says: "These anonymous case studies work well - although they will never be as powerful as one where the client is identified and pictured alongside the piece."
2. Demonstrate your expertise
It is important to ensure you provide case studies relating to your target market, says Bray.
"If you specialise in the at-retirement market, those are the case studies you should write," he says. "Have you changed someone's life because your advice allowed them to retire early? If you have, there's your first case study."
3. Show the benefit to clients of working with you
Including key numbers and statistics can help quantify the benefits clients enjoy from working with you and reinforce what clients say about what they have gained.
Bray also recommends including a client testimonial, adding: "Some kind words from the client is a great way to finish the case study."
4. Separates you from advisers who haven't produced them
"It's rare that I see case studies used on adviser websites," says Bray. "That's a shame as they are hugely useful and versatile pieces of content."
In terms of making their offering even more unique, he suggests advisers try different formats, such as videos or podcasts, in addition to the written word.
5. Keeps Google happy and makes your site easier to find
Assuming the case studies used are unique to an adviser or their firm, they can offer a significant search engine optimisation or 'SEO' benefit, says Bray. This makes the website easier to find - as will including key words and phrases.
6. Available to use elsewhere
Case studies are not just for the website but can also be used on social media, in a firm's newsletter and in its email footer, says Bray.
In addition to being visible to clients, case studies are also a useful PR tool and can be reused for this purpose, he says.
"Journalists are crying out for case studies," he points out. "Especially if you have a bank of them ready to be used, featuring real people and accompanied by professionally shot images."
Phil Bray is founder and director of adviser consultancy The Yardstick Agency. This article is based on a blog post written by Bray and can be read in full here.
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