Gary Vee put it in simple terms. No matter who you are or what you do, one thing remains consistent: we are all media companies—or we should strive to be.
Companies that were fully formed before the birth of the internet found themselves in a predicament. Either they could get on board with what was to come, social media, blogging, podcasting, etc., or go on strike in favor of gripping the past. (Yes, we’re pointing to you, Blockbuster.) We know from history that digital-savvy companies had a clear path forward, while a company that lagged digitally, well, you’ve seen the obituaries.
Potomac was founded in 1987, an era of old-school marketing that included placing ads in newspapers, cold calls, and conducting seminars, etc., and calling it a day. Don’t get it wrong, for that day and age, it was enough. However, fast-forward to the 2000s, it became evident, it no longer was enough. A company can’t be anti-content in a society that has a device in its hands 24/7 to absorb content.
When Manish Khatta bought 100% of the firm, the methods needed to change, and he was in a unique position to do that—young enough to be technology-forward yet old enough to understand traditional marketing. Many RIA firms have similar mindsets when building their company. They start with operations, sales, and then build out all these different departments. Most only dedicate a sliver of their company’s time and budget to marketing.
Anyone can have an RIA firm, but if no one hears the story, it doesn’t matter.
Buying a business is not that dissimilar to buying a home, but Khatta’s 20+yo RIA firm had a better shot at a feature on “This Old House” than “Million Dollar Listing.” So, he began the renovations; Potomac would need to act like a media company that happens to offer investment advisory services.
Rethinking how your company functions is an arduous task; it’s switching from a business approach of sell, sell, sell to distributing content that creates brand value. There are myriad ways to go about this when strategizing like a media firm. So, take a page from us; start with one person who understands brand-building and then build out the rest of your marketing team. We’re not suggesting you need Extreme Makeover money on day one. It is a process that takes years, not a long week that concludes with “move that bus.”
With Khatta in charge, Potomac’s new approach, and the hire of a marketing director, Christopher Norton (now CMO), the content generated ascended. Currently, Potomac has a blog, podcast channel, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and (you get the picture); however, it’s still a long game.
The first episode of the Conquer Risk Podcast only had 84 views, and it declined from there for the whole season. It wasn’t until a year after the first episode that views grew to over 500, and it wasn’t until ten months ago that we had 1,000 views on an episode. So, yeah, it takes a while. But today, we have 1,000+ people watching every episode. Putting. Out. Content. Matters.
Our floorplan was designed to cater to different platforms, and we know the same home isn’t for everyone; but a house that stands out, even if it’s not a house you like, will leave an impression. Instead of spending (wasting) your time calling people to ask if they need help opening a Roth IRA, talk about it. If you’re taking a media-first approach, you start a podcast or write a blog on the benefits of a Roth IRA or the advantages of working with a financial advisor, and as more people listen, you might be the one receiving phone calls.
Our mindset that the content we are outputting should create brand awareness bleeds throughout all our channels. When Potomac first started the blog, our first piece published was “Risky Business: Why Investors Need to Discuss Risk.” We were publishing every two months—if that. Most people would assume that a lack of content equates to a declining business; they’re wrong because we were doing what companies had yet to do—begin brand construction.
If you don’t know what to write, start with writing what you know. As an RIA firm that heavily relies on measuring a portfolio’s maximum drawdown, our first blog reiterated a topic we’re transparent about—risk. Our blog post was a starting point for investors dubious about their risk.
Your company might not need all these channels for brand building; it might need one. All our platforms are designed specifically to grow our company. Our content library is more than a marketing tactic—the whole company can utilize it to assist with customer service, providing more ease for their department. If one of our team members is responding to an email about a new OCIO recommendation or what TAMP’s our models are available on, they don’t have to sit there and type up a lengthy email; they can send them a direct link to a podcast or blog post that answers their question.
The way to get people to notice is to have the content that answers their search.
RIA firms usually don’t see marketing as an investment; the concept of media first is counterintuitive to how every RIA thinks they should start their company—why hire someone when you can post a picture or write a blog yourself. Well, next time you post “Happy Holidays!” or some other bullsh*t sales pitch, ask yourself, “is this creating traffic?” If the answer is no, it’s safe to assume your approach isn’t working.
On the outside Potomac, still conducts like an RIA firm, but behind the name, it acts as a media company—everything we do has a greater purpose. Every piece of content we distribute is there to create a brand that financial advisors will remember. And we haven’t even come close to filling up our library (not that it’s even possible).
Gary Vee said we are all media companies, but your company ultimately makes that decision. If Khatta started all over again and built Potomac on an empty lot, the first employees he would hire would come from marketing.
Disclosure: This information is prepared for general information only and should not be considered as individual investment advice nor as a solicitation to buy or offer to sell any securities. This material does not constitute any representation as to the suitability or appropriateness of any investment advisory program or security. Please visit our FULL DISCLOSURE page.