While gaining great traction and opportunity in recent years, financial brands are still fragile following the Great Recession. According to the Edelman’s Trust Barometer, roughly half of American consumers do not trust the financial services industry (2016).
So how can financial companies regain trust? A thoughtful marketing strategy is a great place to start. Purposeful, targeted messaging can help improve your clients’ and prospects’ perceptions of the industry.
There are many tactics at your disposal, and different industries find success by implementing different combinations of these tactics. Financial services companies tend to experience the greatest success using the following:
1. A website – Your website serves as the home base for all communications – it’s an informational hub that clients and potential clients rely on to learn about your business and the services you offer.
The site should be flexible, functional and attractive to both your target audience and to search engines. Search engines “crawl” websites to determine whether they are relevant for users’ search queries. To maximize your site’s relevance, focus on creating a site that is rich in content that users want, has a clear hierarchy and strategic links.
Branding and creative efforts also stem from your website. Most of your digital communication, whether it is social media, news stories, email newsletters or blog posts, are designed to drive traffic back to your website. That means all collateral and content should align with the website’s look, feel and tone.
2. Email marketing – Depending on the goal of your marketing and communications strategy, email can be a valuable tool to reach your audience. A lead nurture campaign and a newsletter are two email tactics that work well for finance companies.
An email lead nurture campaign identifies prospects, leading them down a path with a specific call to action, such as scheduling a meeting with a financial professional. Organizations that use email for lead nurture efforts were shown to achieve 50 percent more sales-ready prospects for about 33 percent less money (Forrester Research via Hubspot).
Establishing regular communication with clients via an email newsletter can ensure that you remain top of mind. Newsletters provide a platform to educate clients about their financial wellbeing, helping them to become more empowered consumers.
Emails should be sent and tracked using a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software.
3. Social media – Nowadays, younger investors look for information in different places than their parents do—namely social media. According to a report from LinkedIn and Cogent Research, 5 million investors with assets of $100,000 or more used social media to investigate their financial decisions. In fact, social media users tend to be more active in their investing, even if they do not use a financial advisor (LinkedIn/Cogent Research).
Creating a social media account on Facebook and LinkedIn can help your company establish a position as an expert and a trusted financial partner. More than 60 percent of advisors who used LinkedIn for prospecting acquired new clients (LinkedIn/FTI Consulting).
It is important to note, however, that social media users don’t respond well to sales-oriented messaging. Instead, utilize social media to educate clients and prospects.
4. Content marketing – A robust content marketing strategy can showcase your expertise and help position your company as a resource for clients and people seeking to learn more about their personal finances.
Blog posts are central to a content marketing strategy. They can provide answers to commonly asked questions and can educate readers on investment options. Cross promote content from blogs on social media and via email communications to increase their reach and drive potential clients to your website.
When writing blog posts, be sure to avoid excessive jargon that the average consumer may not understand. This approach can be especially helpful when targeting millennials, who are still learning how to manage finances and plan for the future.
5. Proactive media relations – A proactive media relations strategy will help position your company as an industry leader. Once you define who you are and what you want to be known for, you can develop a series of story angles to pitch to targeted media. It takes time to build relationships with reporters, and consistency is crucial. If you provide journalists with relevant information in a timely manner, they are much more likely to publish stories about your company and turn to you when they need a trusted source.
6. Community involvement – Work with your employees to determine how each of them can get involved in the community. Maybe an executive can serve on the board of a local charitable organization and an employee can participate in a leadership development program. Strike a balance between charities that suit personal passions and create business development opportunities.
Community involvement helps increase brand awareness and broadens employees’ networks while creating a positive impact on the community.
Remember: marketing is not one-size-fits-all. These tactics serve as starting points. As you delve deeper into PR and marketing, you will find an approach that works best for your company.