Mariah Holmes, Financial Marketing Intern
What is the process of creating high quality, valuable content to attract, inform and engage an audience while also promoting your brand? If you answered “content marketing,” you’re a winner! Content marketing is the publishing of content to influence customers without directly selling to them. Think of it as encouraging, but not forcing; advising, but not requiring.
Content marketing can be anything from social media posts and reviews for your business to your own published posts, blogs or articles. Often times, content marketing in financial institutions comes in the form of reviews and referrals.
However, content marketing is much more than simply creating content. Dan Blacharski, President and Founder of Ugly Dog Media, Inc. breaks content marketing down into three “musts”:
- Give your customers a voice
- Use right-brained, creative tactics that go beyond the numbers
- Find the emotional connection
In a more simplified view, these three themes of creating engaging content translate to Influence, Data and Connections. Keeping these in mind will keep the focus of your content marketing efforts on your customers instead of just creating content for content’s sake.
“Marketers need to go beyond simply talking about how awesome they are. It’s far more powerful when other people that aren’t on your payroll are saying it,” says Jeev Trika, CEO of CrowdReviews.com. Hearing about your loan rates and checking accounts is only interesting for so long. Your customers want to hear from other customers about how they are utilizing your institution to its fullest capacity. Something as simple as a testimonial page on your website or encouraging customers to post reviews on your Google, Yelp or Facebook profile will give customers to opportunity to voice their opinions and also seek the insight of fellow consumers to help make a decision. You can also use customer feedback to create content. Positive reviews could turn into video testimonials, and customers pain points or questions can be the start of an FAQs section on your website.
The traditional method of marketing consists of marketers pushing information to consumers. Now, smart marketers are using information from their customers to inform their marketing strategies. Creating content just to create it and not basing it on fact or what your consumers want is cluttering an already cluttered platform. Use the data you collect to make strategic marketing decisions, to get happy customers and better results to show to your executives.
People are emotional beings. Gallup’s Retail Banking Study related the importance of customer engagement to profitability. By their definition, engagement is 70 percent emotional attachment (“I’m proud to be a customer”) and 30 percent rational satisfaction (“My bank has the products I need”). Why does this matter? Because money is an emotional subject. We care about our money, meaning we are more likely to have an emotional attachment to these with our financial health in mind. In marketing terms, that means you have to find the emotional connection to how your customers view money. For inspiration, let’s take a look at one of my all-time favorite commercials.
This commercial didn’t make me any more knowledgeable about Siri or her new capabilities. But it did make me smile, laugh and actually enjoy the experience. You can relate to the Cookie Monster, because who hasn’t waited impatiently for their food (cookies or otherwise) to finish?
The basis of the commercial doesn’t have much to do with the product, but that is the power of marketing and connecting with your customers. What if your customers got the same feeling I get from the Cookie Monster commercial when they use your services? Can people be that happy with their bank? Well of course they can, you just have to know how to create the connection.
Having the ability to empathize with customers and getting to know their hopes, dreams and challenges will give you the insight you need to connect with them. Understanding what your customers are looking for at various life stages will help you to better serve them through your financial institution. Seeing the influence of the data and the connections that your institution makes with your customers and their lives will assist you in providing the best service possible.
Content Marketing Success
Influencing your consumers through creative data and emotional connections is the goal of marketing professionals. Content marketing isn’t about filling up a blog section or winning an advertising award. It is about creating meaningful exchanges between your customers and institution. If you can develop successful campaigns centered around your customers’ needs that just so happen to win an award, more power to you. But until then, keep the focus on the consumer.