In July 2017, Gartner said that banks were struggling to produce content that would appeal to millennials. In fact, UBS had even gone as far as truncating their content creation budgets in favor of content distribution.
While brands like Netflix and Amazon have mastered the art of customer experience by pampering their customers with extremely personalized offerings, banks have not been able to replicate the same success. It is no surprise then that only 40% of banks know how customer experience is mapped to their business goals.
Banks are large enterprises that sit on such large mountains of data that you’d think would enable them to create a lot of content aimed at their customers. A Worldwide Business Research study says that 60% of banks can consolidate their customer data to determine who their ideal customer is.
But, they will struggle to put it to good use because they often lack the tools to deliver the right content in the right context. Part of the problem is because they are so large with archaic systems and processes that getting them to produce content for their B2B audience is a herculean task.
They’re also bogged down by the need to run their marketing efforts by the legal and compliance teams before they go live. Only specific executives are approved to appear in videos or author content pieces. In the era of on-demand business, it is inconceivable to have to go through such processes to create marketing collateral.
Furthermore, in a mature industry such as banking, it is quite difficult to pinpoint which marketing collateral is working its magic on its target audience.
Yet, banks must shed their lethargy and continuously evolve to create marketing collateral that their audiences can easily consume – because today’s consumers have already gone through 60% of their journey before they buy from a business.
In this post, we will look at the best practices that the largest banks are following to produce and distribute content effectively.
Lesson #1: The Breadth of Marketing Collateral
No content is irrelevant for the big banks.
With revenues of $108 billion, JP Morgan is one of the biggest banks in the corporate world. Having witnessed quite a lot of ups and downs in its 219-year-old history, JP Morgan surely knows a thing or two about producing effective marketing collateral.
Finding their business lines on their website is quite some task, which shows how much real estate is being devoted to things that are not central to their business – women in banking, student priorities, startup investing, social causes and a lot more.
The bank has a separate ‘Institute’ section that houses research and insights on topics that affect everybody including healthcare spending, small business, consumer spending, family finances, business travel etc. The word ‘Institute’ makes it a niche place for their audience to look up content – a place where everybody can learn stuff for free.
Similarly, Société Générale has content that is extremely insightful. Their YouTube channel features a video series called ‘Let’s talk’ where young women entrepreneurs seek ideas/suggestions from experienced professionals (also a lady) on their business. Each video is just 5 minutes long and produced in partnership with HEC Paris, an ideal partner for hosting a knowledge series.
By publishing content on broad topics that their audience will find fresh, original, and yet unexplored, JP Morgan and Société Générale have positioned themselves as leading visionaries.
Lesson #2: It’s All About Themes Honey!
No matter the size of the bank, it is important to bucket the marketing collateral under various themes.
Goldman Sachs does this quite well. All their content under their ‘Insights’ section is divided into categories such as Economic Outlooks, China, Commodity, Millennials, Drones, Blockchain, Science, etc.
Within each of these topics, there are more marketing collaterals subdivided into various sections named as Talks at GS – recordings of talks hosted with experts on various topics, Briefly – excerpts from longer insightful versions, The Long & Short of It – short videos of interviews and opinions by Goldman Sachs bankers.
Lesson #3: Thinking Differently
Content is more than getting new business.
All banks produce content that does not conform to their natural business instincts. The idea here is to engage with the audience at a level that is much more than mundane business. That is because their target audience is looking for newer insights from innovative avenues.
That doesn’t mean they produce marketing collateral that is quirky, instead, it should be knowledgeable and fun at times. For example, JP Morgan has published a list of books for 2018 suggested by their client advisors. The authors of these books are professionals in leading organizations like The New York Times, GigaOM or academicians in leading universities.
HSBC has put out the expat explorer report that has the opinions of 22,000 expats in HSBC on their lives and experiences living away from their home country. They have dedicated a separate website for it that captures the survey results in its entirety. It clearly has a business angle to it – HSBC can draw from its deep research of expats and offer services aimed at them. When you have an organization that is spread across 37 countries and 6 continents, you might as well make good use of the geographical spread.
Or, consider HSBC’s Elevator Talks & Guides aimed at small entrepreneurs. With a view to cater to the small business segment, they launched a marketing campaign where small business owners could send in 90-second videos of their business pitch for £150k in prize money. They even helped participants to get it right with a YouTube video series on how to pitch correctly, the art of storytelling, knowing their audience etc.
It is not an absolute must to have this sort of content, but it certainly adds a lot more flavor to the marketing collateral strategy followed by banks. It is bound to bring in newer audiences and viewership.
Lesson #4: The Tools That Titans Use
Banks deal in finances that people are always trying to organize – either for themselves or for their business. As a result, people want to know how their finances will look like a few years down the lane. Or, how it impacts their business.
That is why interactive tools used for data visualization, scenario planning, and frameworks can be useful for banks to better engage with customers.
JP Morgan’s exchange rate visualization tool helps viewers visualize how the EUR/CHF rate changed due to unexpected regional events within a timeframe. Bank of America’s Spending Analysis Tool developed in association with Khan Academy explains the constituents of monthly expenses and their patterns. HSBC has launched a tool called Export Readiness Questionnaire that helps exporters determine how they could be export-ready.
In this aspect, the World Bank is the mother for all macro and micro-level data. Their website hosts data on social protection, climate change, global consumption and a lot more content that economists will crave for. It makes World Bank a much-vaunted authority for such data. Users can visualize development indicators through graphs and charts and even download them.
These tools empower customers with data and to evaluate where they are in their journey towards reaching their financial goals. For the World Bank, it is a must-have because they act as a lighthouse for governments, universities, and banks. However, it could cost a bit of money to develop these tools, but they have the potential to be a hit amongst customers in the long run.
Lesson #5: The History That Made Banks
Banks are not makers of history, they are made by history.
Our research on the marketing collateral produced by the largest banks revealed that most of them have a rich history behind them. It is important to showcase this rich history that is associated with their existence. It helps customers understand that they’re banking with an institution that has been witness to a lot of historical events and know their way around.
Bank of America was founded in 1904 as Bank of Italy in San Francisco. They have duly created a separate webpage dedicated towards their origin, roots, the modern era, technological innovations and their role in the development of modern America. That also includes a post of how the bank helped rebuild Chicago after the Great Fire of 1871 and one on how the American national anthem was preserved through the years.
UBS, the Swiss bank that was formed by the combination of more than 300 banks, also have a 156-year old rich history. They have a separate image library that shows the journey of the bank since 1840. It shows how the seeds of modern-day Swiss banking were sown, leading them to become the custodians of the world’s biggest secrets.
JP Morgan has a separate category for their history on their YouTube channel. It features short videos of the bank through the years of its existence.
HSBC has a 36-page file that documents its history through the ages that include rare images from the past. The document is replete with anecdotes and stories that have made HSBC a modern banking behemoth.
The birth of contemporary banking took place many centuries ago. But, by bringing to life the images of the bygone era, it assumes extraordinary significance in the eyes of its customers. The next time somebody reads about the Great Fire, they know how it is associated with Bank of America.
Lesson #6: The Age of Communities
Banks thrive because of their customers, who in turn thrive in communities.
That is why banks dedicate a lot of real estate on their website to the communities that they support. For example, HSBC’s webpage titled ‘Our approach’ shows the different causes that they’re associated with.
UBS talks about how they help society move forward with their penchant for discovering innovations that have the potential to create an impact. The bank has categorized them into buckets such as communities, philanthropy, finance, business etc.
Société Générale has a section on their website called ‘Building Tomorrow’ that is sub-divided into sections such as Support Startups, Instants Africains, fighting climate change etc. Each of these sections has stories about individuals who have been successful in their journeys.
In today’s economy, it is no longer enough to merely support social causes. It is equally important to spread the word about it too so that more people know about it. As more people learn about it, people will bank more and ultimately, as the communities grow, banks will grow along with it too.
Lesson #7: Get the Videos Out
Videos must be so impactful that users must feel they got more than what they gave. Moreover, marketing collateral such as videos, that is easily consumable is also a preference for customers.
All banks that we researched have a lively YouTube channel. JP Morgan’s channel has content around topics like careers (that has intern stories), customer stories, insights, successful women etc.
Bank of America shows that it cares for the community at large by creating videos that feature war veterans. For example, in one video, they got a NASCAR driver take a war veteran for a spin in his car on the race track. There are videos that can help customers improve their finances, and help small businesses too. While these videos featured individuals, they are aimed to woo an entire community.
HSBC has a playlist to showcase their sports sponsorships and how they promote endurance sports. Société Générale has playlists devoted to Africa, the rugby teams that they support, entrepreneurs and innovation. UBS’s pinned up video is that of Nobel laureates talking to a group of students about solving the challenges faced by today’s economies.
It is no longer about a sports gear company producing a video to suit their business. These videos go to show how banks have moved away from publishing a lot of academic or economic content to ones that their audience will love.
We have a word of caution here. What marketers at banks must keep in mind while creating these videos is that people may not willfully look up for their videos. So, it is important to promote them strategically so that people look at one and are urged to watch more of them.
Lesson #8: The Art of Creating Situational Content
Being at the right place at the right time matters.
Banks have created marketing collateral to educate their customers after a financial disaster like the 2008 subprime crisis or in the aftermath of Brexit. But, they will have to go much deeper than that because such crises are not everyday occurrences.
Marketers at banks will have to be nimble enough to create content based on the situation. For example, if a bank notices their clients are not planning for their life post-retirement, then content could be created aimed at showcasing the benefits of investing for the long term.
In January 2018, United Overseas Bank launched a bank branch in the Tampines area focused towards millennials because millennials accounted for 15% of residents of the area. The bank created infographics aimed at kickstarting the investment journey for millennials.
In September 2014, Barclays launched a program named ‘Digital Eagles’ aimed at senior citizens in the UK to adapt to newer technological developments. The bank noticed that their elderly clients were having difficulty in using recent technology. It promptly tied up with a charitable organization to train the elderly on the use of iPads and laptops.
Even chatbots can deliver content effectively to banks. A chatbot that answers basic queries could be trained to lead the customer to more detailed content elsewhere on the bank’s website.
Banks are the engine for the economic prosperity of a country. They have a responsibility to guide their customers in every way possible.
However, banks often face the challenge of dealing with marketing collateral topics that are dry and arcane at times. They might even run into legal hurdles to get the marketing collateral. Moreover, unlike B2C businesses who are able to build stronger relationships
That is why it is imperative that banks must be creative in producing top-notch content that customers find useful. Promoting a brand is a necessity, but unless it adds value to customers, there’s no use producing marketing collateral.
Banks must look for the hidden stories within their customers and bring them to life so that their customers are aware of it. Customers will then be encouraged to keep coming back to engage with them
Do you know of any examples that you think should be highlighted here? Let us know at Karthik@paperflite.com.