CMOs in the financial services sector can enhance their marketing strategies with thought leadership content. In this blog we provide four reasons why the financial services sector can benefit from thought leadership content and outline how using this type of content enables financial services companies to address challenges, engage the community, demonstrate industry expertise and build trust.
Reason #1: Turn Challenges into Opportunities
2020 has seen its fair share of challenges. Not only has the global pandemic caused major disruption but the continued uncertainty of Brexit on 1st January 2021 is causing concern across multiple industries.
By contributing over 7% to the UK’s entire annual economic output and employing more than one million people, the financial services sector is a key player in facing these challenges. Thought leadership content offers an excellent way for financial services companies to turn these challenges into opportunities.
The government appears to be laying the framework for the UK financial sector to continue to be a global player post-Brexit and ensure the UK is still an attractive location for financial businesses, even after leaving the EU customs union. Despite this, the industry has warned that their businesses, including banks, insurers and fund managers will lose unfettered access to EU markets.
It is now more important than ever to look at these challenges and demonstrate valuable industry expertise and awareness of issues, using thought leadership content to reassure customers and employees whilst improving communication and transparency in this difficult time. The use of thought leadership programmes and timely content will provide guidance for these companies to face challenges head on, rising to the occasion and establishing their role in the industry.
Reason #2: Engage the Community
Facing the same challenges creates a shared experience that – when using thought leadership – provides financial services companies with not only the power to engage their existing community, but to create their own following.
EY, a Big Four professional services firm, is one such example. They provide report-based content tailored for members of the community, including board members, audit committee chairs and finance directors, in order to stimulate debate, while providing information and inspiration on key industry issues.
HSBC, a leading global financial services player, demonstrates both data-depth and continued community communication through its annual sustainability financing and investing survey, uncovering key issues in the industry. Sustainable investment and finance firm UKSIF supports the growth and discussion of this issue in the industry and strengthens the community, spurring action from the conversations. Thought leadership establishes authority and understanding within the financial services sector and beyond, promoting a reliable reputation in the face of challenge and innovation.
Reason #3: Demonstrate Expertise and Knowledge
Every CMO knows that the backbone of a powerful content strategy lies with the subject matter experts. This is because effective communication rests on the ability of the reader to relate to the content, which in turn relies on the ability of the author to convey a thought leadership position.
Within any financial services organisation, there will be spokespeople with a wealth of experience and expertise, who can take informed positions on key industry matters, including issues surrounding Brexit, global economic uncertainty and how customers can be reassured about the use of automation, AI and data security as continued reports of cyber security breaches hit the news.
KPMG regularly uses spokespeople to comment on key industry issues, including the Gender Pay Gap. They have dedicated a blog series with Laura Hay, Global Head of Insurance and women executives from the global financial services industry. Hay interviews C-Level female executives about how they have overcome career challenges and achieved success: showcasing their stories, addressing topical issues and offering support and encouragement to other females in the industry. KPMG’s opinion on this topic counts, and they have the ability to encourage real change in the industry; using thought leadership with a strong and relevant spokesperson helps them to achieve this. KPMG is another great example of a professional services firm that taps into the deep expertise of their subject matter experts to showcase thought leadership in their client sectors and cross-industry, whether that’s financial services, technology or energy.
Reason #4: Build Trust
Finally, the need to build trust is a fundamental reason why thought leadership should be considered by every CMO in the financial services sector. The finance sector has a long history of public trust issues, which can cause a distrust of the industry. The global financial crisis of 2008, among other regulatory crises, has left a lasting legacy.
The Edelman Trust Barometer found that 56% of people in the UK trusted financial services in May 2020, which was a large increase from 9% in January. The survey further found that 31% of employees believe that financial services CEOs are failing to meet pandemic demands. If CEOs demonstrate public guidance during the coronavirus pandemic by using thought leadership, the sector has an opportunity to rebuild trust and show they are dependable in times of crisis. Indeed, the latest CMO survey from iResearch demonstrated that 71% of senior marketers believe thought leadership provides the best results for sentiment and relationship building.
Additionally, PwC recognises the need for trust as a key business issue, especially with the rise of social media making complaints more evident to other customers; people need to believe that the services are dependable. Communication is key to building trust and advocacy here: with customers, employees, suppliers and third-party dependents. It all comes down to creating an experience that engenders trust through displaying knowledge and authority in your convictions, which thought leadership content enables any company to do. In the recent iResearch thought leadership survey, 61% of marketers said that issues-led content, which shows an understanding of the audience’s business or industry challenges, receives higher engagement. This was above social media and SEO methods, demonstrating that expertise and understanding of issues and specific sector challenges and opportunities is the way forward.
Adopt and Adapt
With more uncertainty in the future, CMOs need to plan how they can use thought leadership and content to support future contingency plans and be prepared to comment on possible scenarios, looking to the future as well as assessing the implications of the past. By adopting thought leadership policies and programmes, financial services CMOs have the opportunity to use data-driven research to create powerful client engagement. By adapting to this proven line of marketing and business development, companies will be able to respond to any challenges, engage their community, demonstrate their invaluable expertise and establish trust – the framework to any successful marketing and indeed sales strategy. In times when human connection and conversations are needed more than ever, it’s a great opportunity.
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