By Diane Harrison
A picture is worth more than 1000 words… this phrase has been translated in dozens of ways, but all represent the sentiment that a simple image can represent a complex message with great impact. Similarly, a well-written blog can paint a picture for a reader and bring concepts to life in memorable ways.
Blogs can be a real communication boon to niche and emerging managers who struggle to be heard within the financial community. According to a study conducted by Time, Inc in 2018, 90% of consumers prefer custom content, and 89% of people believe custom content helps brands break through the clutter. If the average blog is 1000 words and the average reader reads at a rate of 250 words per minute, is 4 minutes too long to invest in learning how to blog effectively?
EVERY WORD MATTERS
One of my favorite blog sites is IFL Science, a repository of news nibbles. The site is virtual brain fast food, allowing readers to select topics from environmental to political, healthcare to human interest. Each post is an idea teaser with links embedded to additional research or content for readers wanting more information. The headlines often draw a reader in, such as a recent personal favorite: Female Brains Appear More Than Three Years Younger Than Males’, Study Suggests.
Despite representing ideas and news bites from all manner of topics, these blogs share universal qualities that make them compelling reads. Each captures a subject in short, pithy phrases. They also frequently include counter-intuitive concepts that challenge a reader to rethink established positions. Most are intellectually controversial in a manner that is thought-provoking. These qualities make the posts, and the site in whole, memorable. By the site’s own viewership stats, it seems to be working: 50 million unique viewers visit monthly, with a gender split of 50/50, and a social media Facebook reach of over 625 million.
THE RULE OF THREE
Blogs can be valuable communication channels, but only if done well. A well-written brief can carry greater impact than a detailed expansion of the same concept, but it must be complete. For a blog to work, it should introduce an idea, explain or reinforce it, then emphasize its importance. In this blog, I’ll present with three ways in which a financial blog can strengthen outreach to investors.
Blogs offer every creator the chance to be noticed. Established, well-known managers have greater opportunities to reach investor audiences in speaking engagements, media coverage, and the like. Without the forums to be heard that larger players enjoy, smaller managers must find their own means to communicate directly to investors. A blog can work to level the playing field for communicating the niche or smaller manager’s unique views.
It allows for a customized articulation of an investment manager’s market outlook and strategy. With a well-written blog channel, niche managers can add a credible and qualified voice to the financial community. This can broaden their potential target market in a way that limited traditional marketing resources prevent them from achieving. Online blogs have the distinct advantage of being as intellectually memorable as the creator can make them without relying on an economic threshold for admission.
To become identifiable, investment managers must create a singular intellectual stamp on their blog content. A successful blog that broadcasts information with personality to its readership invites people to return again and again for more. I offer another example of such a blog, with views I find provocative and entertaining as well as financially stimulating.
Barry Ritholtz, a well-known NY money manager, writes a blog, The Big Picture (TBP), that doesn’t disappoint in dispensing wit, wisdom, and withering diatribes in equal measure. Backed up by solid financial prowess, The Big Picture has been educating and entertaining readers since 2003. Pulled from the site itself, these stats tell a story of its success:
Ritholtz has been called the “blogfather” for his long-standing finance weblog, The Big Picture. TBP generates 1-2 million page views per month, and has been covering everything investing related since 2003. The blog has amassed ~150 million visitors over that 15-year period. Media accolades include TED named TBP one of top 100 Websites You Should Know and Use; TBP was featured in the 10th annual New York Times magazine “Year in Ideas,”(DIY Economics); Numerous traffic sites rank The Big Picture as one of the most trafficked Markets/Economics blogs on the web. The Associated Press offers its own review of The Big Picture—“The base camp for new explorers of investing blogs. Accessible and unintimidating, the Big Picture tackles both the economy and the financial markets with a conversational style and ample references to pop culture.”
In the spirit of full disclosure, I must mention that several years ago, an article I wrote that had been published on a financial site, Hedgeworld, was fortunate to receive a mention on The Big Picture in its content section “10 Weekend Reads,” which provided links to Ritholtz-selected pieces that day. On the strength of that singular reference, my article received thousands of views in a two-hour period. That’s power.
For a blog to truly work, it must be updated on a regular and frequent basis. A third and necessary component of successful blogging is repetition. The frequency of content posting may vary based on subject or focus, but it needs to embody a repeated, impressive stream of educational entertainment. Don’t create a blog if you don’t believe you will continue to have interesting and informative things to offer on it. For most alternative asset managers, monthly or semi-monthly posts can be frequent enough to establish a memorable experience that invites readers to return for more.
I challenge niche and emerging managers to resolve themselves to develop their investment voice and extract from their knowledge and experience a regular blog dialogue with existing and prospective investors. There should be a ready stream of ideas that present managers with observations and opinions to create their own blog identity. The writing of the blog can be assigned to an individual working with a manager, but the content and perspective must ultimately reflect the voice of the investment manager. Creating and maintaining a successful blog takes commitment to sustain, but can offer a real payoff to those up for the challenge.
Diane Harrison is principal and owner of Panegyric Marketing, a strategic marketing communications firm founded in 2002 specializing in alternative assets. She has over 25 years’ of expertise in hedge fund and private equity marketing, investor relations, articles, white papers, blog posts, and other thought leadership deliverables.