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5 Singaporean finance brands changing the pace of finance marketing

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Hitting their stride

The consensus seems to be that Singapore and Southeast Asia generally have been slow to join in the content marketing movement. But that’s changing for these Singaporean finance brands.

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Whether it’s because Singaporean brands have perceived content ROI as difficult to measure in the past, or they’ve favoured digital marketing’s fast output and instant gratification, the good news is: they’re catching up in the content game. And that includes in the finance sphere.

Here are five examples of content marketing from Singapore banks and financial institutions that skillfully mine the content opportunity and execute it in a sophisticated way. 

Singaporean finance brand example 1: HSBC – Rugby Sevens AR game

Winner of a Mumbrella Asia award for their augmented reality kicking game is HSBC’s Rugby Sevens. At the Singapore leg of the 2019 series, guests of the bank entered the venue’s Hexagon Suite where they were encouraged to take three kicks on goal in a set built on-site at the stadium, using a digital ball and kinetic motion sensors. Rugby star Brian O’Driscoll gave pre-filmed coaching tips after each kick so players could improve their game during the experience. 

Takeaway for all finance brands: If you’re using cutting-edge technology to create your game/content, make it simple enough for your whole audience, even for people who aren’t subject matter experts or technology buffs; and don’t demand too much of a participant’s time. 

Singaporean finance brand example 2: Arnaud Bonzom blog

Arnaud Bonzom is a former venture partner at 500 Startups and now a keynote speaker and co-founder of Map of the Money, a Singapore-based platform that helps entrepreneurs raise funds in Southeast Asia by identifying investors. He is a master blogger with a celebrated history of publishing thought-leading content including his annual lists of stand-out women in Southeast Asia’s finance world. (The 2019 article is titled 208 Reasons not to have an all men panel in Southeast Asia). Arnaud’s blogs cover his favourite topics: entrepreneurship, venture capital, corporate development, corporate startup engagement and building a startup ecosystem.

Takeaway for all finance brands: Throughout his writing, Arnaud’s focus is on the latest thinking in his field, and accessibility: imparting useful information as clearly and transparently as possible. As part of that he likes to cite useful sources of information from other publishers, including podcasts – curation in action. 

Singaporean finance brand example 3: DBS – Sparks

Coming to a screen near you: “Sparks, inspired by Life’s True Stories, starring Everyday Heroes for a Better World”. This is how Singaporean bank DBS bills their mini-series of 12 to 13-minute webisodes dealing with the work relationships of their lead characters (fictional bank employees) and how they “challenge the status quo”. Episodes reinforce the ethos/tagline of the bank (Live more, Bank less) while also exploring their SME customers’ challenges with storylines based on real case studies.

Series 1 debuted in 2016, introducing smart, quirky protagonist Claire, a millennial bank worker who goes into bat for clients. By 2018, the first series had already attracted more than 245 million views and more than 24 million engagements globally. The second series launched in 2019 and has a focus on sustainability, one of the key values for the bank. If the aim has been to humanise bankers and banking, the strategy has been a massive success.

Takeaway for all finance brands: DBS have gauged their Singaporean market well with a charming main character and a video format reminiscent of a modern-day rom-com. It’s expensive looking and cheeky.

They also had clear objectives: to stand out in a highly commoditised industry and reinvent marketing in the financial services sector; and to challenge consumer perceptions that banking is purely transactional. Clear strategy, innovative solution: this is what a real investment in development, production and marketing of video content looks like.

Singaporean finance brand example 4: Seedly – blog

Yeap Ming Feng, head of content at personal finance platform Seedly decided early on that his team would use content to help educate their Singaporean millennial audience and show them why they needed Seedly’s help making financial decisions. So the first step was to set up a Facebook group to get a feel for what that audience was interested in.

Over time it became apparent that people responded to lifestyle and finance hacks that could help them save money. So the platform’s Seedly Reads blog has content verticals that include savings, investing, insurance and property as well as lifestyle hacks. Readers can find out how to get cheaper gel manicures, car rentals, college fees, Black Friday deals, as well as 60-second guides to various investments and hacks for clearing your debts.

The first step was to set up a Facebook group to get a feel for what that audience was interested in.

Takeaway for all finance brands: Research what kinds of content your audience is hungry for, and deliver on them. And do like Seedly did, which was to identify digital publications they liked, and work out how they could be like them, for the finance sector.

Singaporean finance brand example 5: Dr Wealth

An investor-centric platform that offers courses, as well as case studies, a blog, and videos, Dr Wealth believes the best way to learn about investing is from people who have done it successfully themselves, not necessarily academics. Their audience is made up of DIY retail investors, and the language is consistently young, colourful and honest – for example when Dr Wealth CEO Alvin Chow describes Singapore’s sandwich generation

Takeaway for all finance brands: Getting personality and tone right is important when communicating your message online and for establishing a point of difference. Dr Wealth is knowledgeable, confident, no-nonsense and unapologetically colloquial, yet this uncompromising style never damages the value of the information delivered. (P.S., do yourself a favour and read the About page, including The Lotus Story – investor poetry.)

The Dubs is the content marketing for the financial sector, servicing clients in Singapore, Australia, the US, and the UK. Find out more about what we do

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Susan Burchill
When Susan was a youngster she didn't know what she wanted to be, but somehow she fell into advertising; then digital was invented so she worked on websites for a while. From there it was a small leap over to TV producing, scriptwriting, promo writing, and some copywriting.... Then when content marketing became a 'thing', she somehow fell into that. It's worked out ok so far - luckily she's always landed on soft things.