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Use LinkedIn to find prospects without being sleazy

“You are a mosquito in a nudist colony of opportunity,” said Kevin Knebl in his on-demand session on “LinkedIn for Huge Sales and Referrals Success!” at the NAPFA Spring Conference in May. He was referring to the opportunities that financial advisors—or anyone—can find using LinkedIn Sales Navigator. LinkedIn Sales Navigator is a paid service that Knebl views as inexpensive relative to the opportunities it offers. Knebl discussed how you can boost your prospecting using Sales Navigator after you improve your LinkedIn profile using the tips I wrote about in “Reboot your LinkedIn profile for better marketing!” in the NAPFA Advisor.

Connect with prospects on LinkedIn infographic

1. Search using LinkedIn Sales Navigator

LinkedIn is a “database on steroids,” said Knebl. Take advantage of that by filtering the 750 million people on LinkedIn by some of the couple dozen factors available using LinkedIn Sales Navigator. These include geography, titles, number of employees, language, industry, college, and more. Don’t forget to search on common interests, such as golf, skiing, or wine, said Knebl. Those are important because it’s much easier to start a conversation with someone when you share a common interest.

Look at the results of your search. You may pay particular attention, for example, to those who changed jobs recently, which may create a new need for advice. Or perhaps you prefer to focus on those who are more active on LinkedIn or who went to the same college as you.

You can save your search and get notified every day of any new individuals who fit those search criteria.

2. Start a conversation with someone in your target group

No one will hire you to manage their money without having a conversation with you, so Knebl said you should figure out how to start a conversation with a targeted message.

Do not start your email by asking, “Can I manage your money?” In fact, Knebl never mentioned anything financial in the sample message that he discussed in his session. Instead, he opened by mentioning commonalities, such living in the same state and enjoying the same sports, including golf. Then he offered to buy his prospect a cup of coffee to discuss golf courses if the prospect ever visits his area. This kind of opening will make a good first impression.

 

Try it!

Try Knebl’s approach. See if it works for you. It’s unlikely to deliver instant results, but you may develop some relationships that could eventually evolve into new business for you.

As I finished up this article, I read an InvestmentNews article, “RIA marketing is getting more personal, transparent.” Knebl’s approach fits with this trend toward more personal marketing. The article quotes Tina Powell of C-Suite Social Media saying, “People want to do business with people they know and trust, and if you don’t put yourself out there and I’m not able to see every facet of your life, how am I going to know if I want to work with you?”

With Knebl’s approach, including his approach to LinkedIn profiles that I mentioned above, your prospects will get a fuller picture of your life than with traditional marketing. And they’ll certainly get a fuller picture than with old-fashioned cold calling, which was in the news when I wrote this, as Merrill Lynch ended the use of cold calling, which it had already put limits on.

 

 

 

Finding your best clients

Learning what works for you in winning clients is a good way to make your marketing more efficient and effective. I’ve described my approach on this blog. But two webinars by consultant Mary Cravets of Simply Get Clients inspired me to revisit this topic.

List marketing techniques and top clients

Cravets suggested that participants draw two columns on a piece of paper. In the left-hand column, list all of the marketing techniques that you use consistently or inconsistently, or that you’d like to try. In the right-hand column, list your top five clients.

Draw lines

The next step was for participants to draw a line from each top client to the technique in the left-hand column that brought them that client.  In other words, participants identify how they gained their best clients. That’s a great refinement on my original idea of analyzing all of my new clients in a given year. After all, wouldn’t you rather duplicate your best clients rather than your average clients?

For me, the visual impact of seeing the lines on my paper converging in one place was stunning. I tend to think of my newsletter and blog as major contributors to bringing me clients. But this exercise said that it’s really the internet and LinkedIn. Of course, my blog and newsletter are essential to my presence in both of those places.

Act on what you learn

The next step is to focus more on the techniques that bring you your best clients, and then do more of that. You should also deemphasize the less productive techniques, so you can win better clients with less effort.

In my case, the mix of ways I gained my top five clients was similar to how I gained all of my new clients last year. However, that might not be true for you, especially if you’ve tried new marketing techniques over the last year.

Take a closer look at how you gained your top clients so you can spend more time on those techniques. Then, maybe you can cut back on some of your time-consuming marketing that doesn’t get results. And, maybe you can spend less time on marketing, and more on what you enjoy.

Focusing on your best clients, rather than any new clients, can improve your business.

Flip the exercise

You can also learn from doing the reverse of this exercise, suggested Cravets. List your 5 worst clients, and then draw lines to the techniques that brought those clients to you. This may suggest techniques that you should avoid. For example, perhaps those clients came from a lead-generation service rather than from referrals. It may be time to put more energy into cultivating referrals.

 

NOTE: I expanded and revised this post after seeing a second presentation by Cravets in May 2021.

Target a growing niche with a book as a marketing tool

Amy Buttell book

 

 

Have you ever considered writing a book? Amy Buttell, author of the forthcoming Get Your Book Done in this Lifetime: A Financial Advisor’s 5-Step Guide to Writing a Book that Boosts Your Business shares her thoughts in this guest post about how writing a book could benefit you.

 

Target a growing niche with a book as a marketing tool

By Amy Buttell

As advisors seek to solidify their value propositions with their clients, niche marketing is fast becoming a necessity rather than a luxury. The 2019 Kitces Research Study on Advisor Marketing and the 2020 Financial Planning Process Kitces Research Study revealed that top advisors with a niche possess more pricing power, serve more clients, and gross more revenue versus top advisors without a niche.[i]

In fact, these niche-focused top advisors had clients with higher net worth and an average of 25 percent more investable assets.[ii] If you are an advisor who either wants to establish or build your niche, writing a book as a marketing tool can open the door to a more lucrative and more satisfying niche-based practice.

The value of books as marketing tools

Writing a book as a marketing tool establishes you as an expert in your field. When you write a book as a marketing tool on an area of your practice that you want to grow, you change people’s perception of you and your practice. You also create a bank of content that you can draw on as you establish yourself as an expert, while shortening the trust curve with your prospects.

Like many advisors, you may be reluctant to write a book because you believe that you can’t offer any information that isn’t already available, given the tens of thousands of books already available on virtually all aspects of financial and retirement planning. However, there isn’t a book out there that captures your process and the distinctive value that you offer your clients.

Books as marketing tools don’t have to sell many copies—that isn’t the point of writing one. Instead, the point is to position you as an expert and offer valuable information to prospects aligned with your niche and your process.

When you free yourself from the perceptions of what you believe a book is supposed to accomplish, you may find yourself reevaluating whether writing a book as a marketing tool is a good way to position yourself and your practice within a growing niche.

3 reasons to write a book

Here are three statements you can review to help you decide if it’s time to write a book to help market your practice:

  1. I’m not attracting clients who are in alignment with my advisory practices and values. If you agree, writing a book as a marketing tool can help you further define what you seek in a client while at the same time creating content that will help you attract the kinds of clients that you want. This type of mismatch indicates a messaging and communication problem—either you’re afraid to turn down clients who aren’t a good fit, or you aren’t correctly communicating your value proposition, or both. Writing a book is a great way to clarify your process, your values, and the types of clients you want to attract. Even if you are attracting clients who are aligned, writing a book could still work for you if you want to build up a niche, establish yourself as a thought leader, and/or grow your practice.
  2. My business is stagnant. In today’s fast-moving advisory industry, failure to grow can create a downward cycle that pressures your business model to the breaking point. Writing a book focused on a growing niche that you have knowledge of and expertise in can help break that cycle by breathing new life and energy into your practice. Taking advantage of a slow period in your business by writing a book leverages your time productively and sets you up for a better future. If your business isn’t stagnant, but you still want to build a more robust pipeline, writing a book as a marketing tool can definitely help, especially if you have a distribution strategy in mind to leverage a book.
  3. I’m bored. Perhaps your business is successful, but you’re in need of a new challenge. Writing a book is an excellent way to challenge yourself because you’ll learn more about yourself and your business than you ever imagined, while creating a tangible product that will help grow your practice. In fact, once you write one book you might not be able to stop. As a professional writer who recently finished my own book, I can tell you that the experience is like no other. I learned more about myself and my processes than I ever would have thought. Plus, I gained confidence in myself and my business that has already resulted in a more successful business, even though my book won’t be released until Jan. 31. Even if you’re not bored, you might decide that writing a book as a marketing tool is beneficial enough to be worth the effort.

If you’re still on the fence, think about all the potential clients you can reach with a book version of yourself. I’m not just saying this so that you can think about the business building benefits—I’m saying it because there are so many people in need of good advice who aren’t getting it. Don’t let them miss out on what you have to offer just because they don’t know about you.

Amy Buttell is the author of Get Your Book Done in this Lifetime: A Financial Advisor’s 5-Step Guide to Writing a Book that Boosts Your Business. She grows financial advisor practices through content and books. Her online home is at www.lakeeffectcreative.com. Connect with her at www.linkedin.com/en/amybuttell.

 

[i] “Kitces Research on Advantages of Niching in Time Use, Planning Approach, Pricing, and Productivity,” Kitces.com, Aug. 24, 2020, https://www.kitces.com/blog/kitces-research-financial-advisor-niche-productivity-revenue-time-use-efficiency-pricing-models/

[ii] “Kitces Research on Advantages of Niching in Time Use, Planning Approach, Pricing, and Productivity,” Kitces.com, Aug. 24, 2020, https://www.kitces.com/blog/kitces-research-financial-advisor-niche-productivity-revenue-time-use-efficiency-pricing-models/

Financial advisors, a media platform can boost your business

I heard good things about Qwoted, a platform that connects reporters with sources, from some writer friends. So, I asked the firm for a guest post on how advisors can benefit from such platforms, which also include HARO and ProfNet. The post below by Madelynne Kislovsky, Qwoted’s deputy editor and marketing manager, is the result.

Madelynne told me, “Over 400 financial advisors use Qwoted, thanks to dozens of weekly source requests from reporters looking for insights from wealth managers and financial planners.”

Financial advisors, a media platform can boost your business

By Madelynne Kislovsky

Securing earned media opportunities is a crucial element of any marketing strategy. A necessary first step to garnering free media coverage is building relationships with reporters, which boosts the chances of getting your quotes and ideas in front of the audiences of top publications. The coverage you gain as an expert in your field will play a valuable role in the perception of your business by establishing you as a trustworthy source in your industry. Hiring a PR company to manage this can be costly and attempting to secure media opportunities with no guidance often stretches small business owners too thin.

While doing it yourself can be intimidating, there are platforms that assist with obtaining media coverage fast. Qwoted helps professionals in any field cut through the noise and connect with reporters who are looking for specific information around a particular topic. Reporters can also search Qwoted’s media database directly to find vetted, relevant sources. As a member of the Qwoted community, you’ll receive relevant source requests daily, which provide context around your outreach to reporters and propel you as a credible media source.

Sharing your expertise is never a poor choice, as any brand can benefit from securing earned media coverage on either the local or national level. However, reaching out to a journalist requires a collaborative approach. Keep the reporter’s needs in mind throughout the conversation, especially because most good journalists can sniff out your motives right away.

Here are some tips:

  • Respond to source requests as soon as possible to increase your chances of securing the media opportunity.
  • Include written responses to reporters’ questions in your initial pitches. You’ll make the reporter’s job simpler by immediately providing what they’re after. This will improve your chances of being included in the story.
  • Stay away from lengthy anecdotes and “TL;DR” paragraphs.
  • Be thoughtful and offer value without expecting anything in return. The ultimate goal is to build relationships with the media. This approach will provide more returns in the long term.
  • Do a bit of research on the journalist beforehand to learn about the topics they cover.
  • Make sure you have a plan should you receive a piece of coverage. You’ll want to leverage your earned media across your website, social channels, and directly with customers and prospects.

Garnering earned media opportunities doesn’t have to be expensive, difficult, or time-consuming. Make the most of your time by securing media opportunities the smart way. Research affordable alternatives and find which media request platform works best for your business model. You’ll find yourself securing opportunities and expanding your brand faster than you thought possible.

 

Social media and digital marketing for investment managers

Darien Gould did a great job hosting my webinar on investment blogging for the Third Party Marketing Association last summer. I was intrigued by the statistics she found on social media marketing by investment management firms, so I asked her to blog about the topic. The guest post below is the result.

I’m particularly taken with Darien’s point that social media and digital marketing can help small firms compete against larger firms. In the world of financial blogging, I’ve noticed how smaller firms can show more personality than their larger peers. Smaller firms are also often nimbler in dealing with compliance.

Darien and I would love to hear if these statistics and suggestions match up with your experience in this arena.

Can social media and digital marketing be effective for investment manager marketing?

By Darien Gould

 

Digital marketing and social media were hot topics at the eWomen Network entrepreneur conference I attended last summer. But as a marketing consultant I have heard investment managers express a lot of resistance to social media. They typically use digital media only as an electronic substitute for paper marketing materials, and web pages are often only brochures about the firm. This made me wonder, can social media and digital marketing be effective for investment manager marketing?

After the conference, I did a quick survey of information online. I found that the answer is yes! Social media and digital marketing can really benefit investment managers—and give smaller firms an edge over their competitors.

Reports from Peregrine Communications and Greenwich Associates show that institutional investors and consultants increasingly use digital and social content to research and track managers. If you’re not active in these arenas, you’re hurting your visibility.

Statistics from Peregrine Communications

Here are highlights from Peregrine’s 2018 Connected Content, as reported in Peregrine’s BEST PRACTICE: Hidden Habits of the Best Asset Management Communicators:

  • Seasonality: Traffic from institutional investors to investment manager websites was seasonal. Compared with the average number of visits, manager websites enjoyed more than 26% more visits between August and October, and 29% more visits between December and February. Digital content on a website increases prospects’ interest in the company, and can lead to repeat visits. This makes it important to refresh your content more frequently during these five months.
  • Effectiveness: Thought leadership and demonstrations of firm strengths can differentiate firms in the increasingly competitive fight for investor interest. The firms getting the most attention from prospect searches use client-centric terms like “solutions,” “services,” or “clients.” If you’re an investment manager, does your content focus on solving your clients’ problems?
  • Social media: More than two thirds of institutional investors use LinkedIn for research. However, one in five asset managers has no presence on social media at all. This reinforces my suggestion that you can use social media and digital marketing to differentiate your firm from your competitors’ firms.

Statistics from Greenwich Associates

Greenwich Associates’ study, Investing in the Digital Age, yielded insights into the use of social media in the investment process and its impact on investment decisions:

  • 63% of institutional investors now consume social media while less than half consume finance-specific publications.
  • 58% of respondents use social media to seek support or service from their asset manager.
  • LinkedIn is the most thought-of provider of personalized market information.

Step up to digital and social media marketing!

My conclusions? Compliance and legal concerns don’t have to exclude all social media marketing. Reinforcing your firm’s brand and demonstrating your firm’s strengths through thought leadership don’t require discussion of performance or specific stock selections. And the same digital marketing that can interest prospects in your firm are also effective for highlighting your value to current clients.

These new marketing techniques level the playing field and allow even the smallest manager to compete for the attention of prospects against even the biggest investment firms.

I am curious, is your firm using digital marketing? What social media platforms do you use?

Learn more

You can follow my postings about investment marketing on Twitter at @DG_Analytics and on LinkedIn at  linkedin.com/in/dganalytics. While you’re on Twitter, also check out postings from @PeregrineComms and @GreenwichAssociates.

 

My 2019 reading, with recommendations

Marketer’s perspective on investment marketing compliance

My colleagues in investment marketing and writing roles were generous with their feedback on my draft of “6 tips to keep your compliance officers happy.” One of them wrote a reply that stands on its own. I’m happy that I received permission from that marketer to publish that reply. It’s anonymous to avoid the step of going through compliance review.

A marketer’s perspective on investment marketing compliance

Here are a few reactions to your post from the perspective of a marketer, which is somewhat broader than that of a writer.

Respect matters

Your post makes several valid suggestions about building a strong relationship. To me the most important one is about mutual respect.

Because Compliance and Marketing have different jobs to do, their work can seem to be at cross purposes. Compliance’s job is to protect the firm, to keep it out of trouble. While Compliance may strive to stay under the radar, that is the opposite of what a marketer does. A marketer’s job is to call attention, which by definition requires doing something different, being unlike the others.

You and I, and the readers of your blog, are likely familiar with situations when the relationship has devolved—Compliance complains of Marketing trying to get away with something while Marketing blames its ineffectiveness on the clichéd “Sales Prevention Department.” This reflects laziness on the part of both.

What works is when Compliance and Marketing each brings their best. I like the idea of trusting Compliance to include them early in a new initiative, and it’s a beautiful thing when, consulted early, Compliance can collaborate and provide insight beyond the line editing of copy. This assumes that Compliance recognizes Marketing as being thoughtful, prepared, and generally aware of the guardrails (what you detail in your post)—and yet still capable of original thought.

Paths of junior marketers

I’ve seen junior marketers go a few directions after being introduced to the rigors of Compliance review:

  • There are those who rebel. They won’t work for an asset manager long.
  • At the other end of the spectrum: Those who offer no fight, they can’t and won’t defend how they’ve presented something. They roll over and the result is the marketing communications are written by Compliance officers.
  • Then, weirdly, there are those who take it upon themselves to become so proficient in the rules that they become quasi-Compliance experts themselves. Over time, their work becomes bland, colorless and designed to do little more than breeze through Compliance review.

None of the above leads to effective marketing, in my opinion.

Be effective marketers

There’s no question who has the power in the Compliance/Marketing dynamic, but I like to see the marketers who find a way to work with Compliance while resisting the urge to capitulate.

We focus on Compliance because they’re who controls whether our communications get out the door. But let’s not mistake them as the client. Compliance’s concern is the regulators, and we all accept that as their role. (In fact, years ago an academic study found that regulated businesses overall think the regulator is their customer.)

But while a clean FINRA letter is important, it’s not the only hurdle an asset management marketer needs to clear—there’s the ongoing need to attract attention, to persuade, to convert clients and prospects. Marketing still needs to do marketing, which requires a certain stamina that extends even beyond the Compliance relationship-nurturing you describe in your post.

Shakespeare lesson for bloggers

Shakespeare said, “There is nothing good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” I read this in The Happiness Hypothesis, which cites it to emphasize the importance of your mental filters.

The quote made me think about how what seems bad can ultimately turn out to be good for your blog.

1. You’re a lousy writer—and an even worse proofreader

If you recognize that writing and proofreader aren’t your strong suits, you can work around those weaknesses.

The obvious solution is to hire a writer or proofreader who can make up for your weaknesses.

A less obvious solution is to communicate in formats other than written blog posts. Play to your strengths. Consider sharing videos or starting a podcast.

If you’re not a good communicator in any format, perhaps blogging isn’t for you. If you’re in a multi-person firm, turning the blog over to other members of your firm could energize your firm’s blog. If you go this route, check out my post on “How to manage a group blog.”

2. You lack ideas

Your lack of ideas could spur you to aggressively research what members of your target audience want to read about. You could do this by asking them in your meetings, keeping a running list of the questions they ask, and doing research online and elsewhere. You could even have someone survey your clients.

If you lack direct access to your firm’s clients, try these techniques to learn about their interests.

Asking questions of your readers is also a great way to generate content.

Another approach is to blog about the mistakes your clients make.

The research you do to make up for your lack of ideas could result in blog posts that speak more powerfully to your the hopes, fears, and dreams of your ideal clients.

3. You’re a financial professional who has made financial mistakes

Financial mistakes don’t disqualify you from blogging. In fact, sharing your personal story can boost the impact of what you write.

Carl Richards’ article, “How a Financial Pro Lost His House” sticks in my mind more than seven years after it appeared in The New York Times.

4. Your blog doesn’t get responses

It’s hard to find a silver lining in this one. However, if your blog isn’t generating responses, then perhaps there’s a bigger problem in your approach to your business. For example, perhaps you’re targeting too narrow a niche, or the wrong niche, for you.

Another problem might be that you’re not spreading the word about your blog aggressively enough.

Look at the statistics generated by your blog. If they’re bad, then let that spur you to examine what you could do better.

5. Your blog attracts too many unqualified prospects

It’s disappointing—and potentially time-consuming—if your blog attracts too many unqualified prospects.

You may be able to fix this by:

  • Changing the topics you address (or how you address them) on your blog
  • Making it easier for readers to identify whether they are one of your ideal clients
  • Creating a better process for screening clients who contact you (and having referrals or products for those who don’t qualify to work with you)

Other negatives that can be positives?

I’ve  discussed several negatives that can become positives. Can you add others to this list?

Why I’m lucky clients didn’t flock to me “describes how something I initially saw as negative helped to push me in a positive direction.

Marketing wealth management to women with Charlotte Beyer

You know that women present an attractive audience for your wealth management or other financial services. “Women with Wallets,” a chapter of Charlotte Beyer’s Wealth Management Unwrapped: Unwrap What You Need to Know & Enjoy the Present, made me think about how you should market to women. Her book targets your potential clients instead of advisors.

1.Don’t treat all women as the same

Beyer points out that women are not all the same. Women who are newly widowed, single and highly successful in their field, married and staying at home with kids, newly divorced, or the beneficiary of a large inheritance will have distinctive needs. She tells women considering a firm to ask themselves if they feel they will be treated as an individual, not a stereotype.

To avoid gender assumptions, here’s what Beyer suggested in an email interview with me, “Look at each woman first as an individual, then discover her goals, her comfort with securities markets, and her hoped-for outcomes, both tangible and intangible.” She also suggests asking questions such as “How much do you know about securities markets?” and “How much time do you want to devote to your finances?”

2. Your employee policies matter, too

Showing respect for women clients and prospects isn’t enough. Your firm’s respect for women should permeate your firm’s culture.

Think about how your firm would fare if potential clients follow these four suggestions by Beyer:

  1. Request that a diverse team be assigned to you. This team should include younger and older, male and female, and ethnic variety as well.
  2. Inquire about the representation of women on the firm’s board and at senior levels, as well as the annual turnover/promotion of women professionals versus men.
  3. Find out how maternity leave policy works at the firm. Ask about flextime, paternity policy, and elder care leave.
  4. Ask what training or educational workshops are offered to women clients. Also ask what professional skills training is offered to women professionals in the organization.

In her email to me, Beyer said, “While many firms may not have answers that will satisfy the client, the willingness to examine current policies and be open to change is appreciated by clients. Cultural change comes slowly, and these questions can speed up the process.”

In addition, she said, “If a firm is proactive and begins to tackle these questions before they are asked, this shows a genuine desire to analyze gender issues. That will be detected quickly by clients and seen as a positive—even as the firm struggles to bring in more women advisors, for example. The turnover of women in financial services is well known. If a culture is not welcoming what women will remain with this firm? Good news: just asking the tough questions internally benefits that firm.

Looking for more book recommendations? Check out “My 2017 reading, with book recommendations for you.

Disclosure:  If you click on an Amazon link in this post and then buy something, I will receive a small commission. I provide links to books only when I believe they have value for my readers.

Early Bird registration for financial blogging class

Learn more about my financial blogging class!

Writing for financial experts

How should you tailor your financial writing for experts like institutional investors or financial professionals? I have many gut feelings about what you should do. But this time I’m drawing on other people’s research. Nielsen Norman Group (NNG) performs great research about how people read on the web. NNG’s Hoa Loranger and Kate Meyer discuss “Writing Digital Copy for Domain Experts” in an article that may apply to financial experts. I say “may apply” because their article only mentions “medical professionals, scientists, and engineers.”

Here are the five main findings or recommendations in Loranger and Meyer’s article:

  1. Provide facts, avoid interpretation.
  2. Citations and supporting evidence are critical.
  3. Experts care about recency.
  4. Shared vocabularies change the rules for plain language.
  5. Grammar and spelling count.

1. Provide facts, avoid interpretation

Loranger and Meyer say that experts care most about the following two types of information, as they are “on a fact-finding mission”:

  1. New information that they haven’t considered or heard of
  2. Contradictory information that is contrary to their existing knowledge or beliefs

“Lead with data and facts. Researchers can see through hype,” say Loranger and Meyer. They stress presenting facts and providing “proof for your statements.” The idea of providing proof squares with what colleagues have told me about their perception of the difference between writing for institutional vs. retail investors.

Although Loranger and Meyer’s heading says to “avoid interpretation,” I think what they really mean is to make your content “free from unnecessary fluff and vague assertions,” as they say elsewhere in this piece.

2. Citations and supporting evidence are critical

Loranger and Meyer say, “Domain experts often scan bylines and citations for name recognition. If the content is written by a well-respected person or entity, readers are more likely to trust the information.”

How might this translate into the world of investment management? It might mean the difference between using asset-class performance data from Standard & Poor’s or Bloomberg Barclays vs. data from a little firm that’s not widely known or—even worse—simply saying, “in our experience, this is how this asset class behaves.”

If possible, make it easy for the experts to access your original sources of information. Of course, that’s not possible if you’re licensing proprietary information from a provider that keeps its data behind a pay wall.

3. Experts care about recency

Experts may leave sites where article dates aren’t shown or the dates are old, according to NNG’s research.

Loranger and Meyer say, “Show dates even for evergreen content that continues to be relevant long past its publication date. Domain experts can decipher between time-sensitive developments and long-lasting concepts and older dates.” (This makes me feel good about the fact that my blog posts on this website show their publication date.)

4. Shared vocabularies change the rules for plain language

It’s OK to use technical language if your audience consists solely of technical experts, according to this article. Although I often rail against technical language, as in “Words to avoid in your investment communications with regular folks,” I’m more flexible when I work on institutional communications.

Explaining concepts that experts know well may work against you, say the authors. Experts may look at your work and decide that it’s meant for the general public. Still, I suggest that you be careful not to overestimate your audience. For example, a so-called institutional investor could be a less sophisticated investment committee member or financial advisor. Read “How to make one quarterly letter fit clients at different levels of sophistication” for my take on how to keep everybody happy.

Loranger and Meyer suggest that you use extra care if your audience includes people new to the field, if you’re discussing less-common concepts or tangential fields, or if your terms have multiple meanings.

5. Grammar and spelling count

You may think that experts care more about the information than how you write about it. Think again.

“…when your target users are highly educated, they may be more likely to catch mistakes in your writing, and they may be more critical,” say Loranger and Meyer.

Useful tips for writing online for experts

This article provided some tips specific to writing online for experts.

You can’t dump too many facts on a web page. You’ll overwhelm your readers. The solution? Loranger and Hoa suggest layering your information, using two techniques:

  1. State the summary at the top. Then provide more detail information down the page progressively.
  2. Include hyperlinks that take readers to supporting details on deeper-level pages. Experts are particularly likely to click on hyperlinks to increase their understanding of a topic.

An A-to-Z index to your content may make sense for experts, while it wouldn’t work for the general public “because users don’t often know the exact name of the topic they want,” say Loranger and Meyer.

Another online writing tip: sign up for the Nielsen Norman Group weekly newsletter. It’s one of the few newsletters I read regularly.