A blog can be a powerful marketing tool that takes you beyond clients’ and prospects’ expectations.

People expect your website to give information on your services and products and how they work together, says Marie Swift, president and CEO of Impact Communications Inc. in Leawood, Kan. A blog, however, is an opportunity to offer your opinions, share some personal anecdotes and educate clients and prospects on various financial matters.

Follow these tips to make a blog an integral part of your marketing plan:

> Know your objective
Think carefully about what you want your blog to achieve.

A clearly defined objective will guide and inform every step you take in developing content, Swift says. For instance, the blog could be part of your client-communication strategy, or it could follow a certain theme, such as financial literacy or retirement planning.

> Keep it casual
Use the blog as an opportunity to “speak” to clients and prospects with a casual voice.

The tone of the blog should be less formal than that of a newsletter or a piece of business correspondence. To help you find the right voice for your blog, Swift suggests, think of the way you would dress and act at a business-casual event as opposed to a formal business function.

> Grab their attention
Use various and timely topics to keep clients and prospects interested in the blog.

Connect your blog to important events, Swift says, to grab your clients’ and prospects’ attention. For example, it could be a timely news item or a major sports event, such as the Olympics.

“If you can tie your postings back to something that is already in the news or on people’s minds,” she says, “that helps to give relevance and a kind of a peg to what you’re writing about.”

> Shake it up
Use various media to keep visitors engaged with your blog.

“Shake up your blog,” Swift says, “and include different ways for people to learn and to understand what is important to them to create more of an entertainment factor.”

In addition to text, she says, your blog should include: video, podcasts, graphics and photos.

> Stick to a schedule
Publishing blog posts regularly will help you to build up a readership.

How often you decide to publish is up to you, Swift says. Some advisors feel that they can come up with good content once a week while others may feel that once a month is enough.

Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule. If you feel there is something you need to share that simply can’t wait, such as an important news item or an insight from a recent conference, Swift says, it’s OK to post it early.