How to talk to people tired of the sell
In the 2010s, the marketing industry realised consumers were getting tired of being advertised to. Being treated not like a friend in need or an ally, but a prospect. An easy mark.
Content marketing was our response to that disenchantment. It was how we were going to get our customers’ attention and loyalty back. We would deliver useful and/or entertaining content, making it relevant and valuable. We would ensure it addressed a need or a problem. And it would not be all about the SELL.
Some of us are doing a good job of that. But in some corners of the financial sector, content marketing feels like the advertising it was intended to replace.
Here’s a quick reminder of what we’re here to do, with financial content marketing.
1. Build relationships through human-centred stories
Some of your content will be product or service focused, for sure. People will want to understand exactly what you offer that your competitors don’t. This type of content falls under the ‘Help’ stream, where you provide tools and resources that the audience will be searching for to help fix their problem or meet their need.
However, Act content should only ever be one part of your content strategy, delivered primarily when consumers are at the pointy end of the funnel. Many won’t be interested in this information when they first meet you. They’ll want to get to know you first, find out what you stand for.
In some corners of the financial sector, content marketing feels like the advertising it was intended to replace.
That’s why every content strategy should have its quota of ‘Hero’ content, capturing attention and building brand awareness by appealing to audience interests. Complemented by regular ‘Hub’ content designed to do the ‘heavy lifting’ with informational and educational pieces relevant to your offering.
That’s where the real storytelling happens – when you use your brand voice, letting the reader or viewer or listener imagine the person or people at the other end.
When you’ve done a good job of setting up that human relationship, then you can ask for something in return, whether that’s a sign-up or a purchase. That’s when the salesy messages feel right.
2. Know who you’re talking to and speak to their problems
By tracking the movement of customers through all your owned channels, and through social media or other third-party sites, you can learn from their behaviours and choices. From polling them, you can get into specific attitudes and emotions.
The benefit of personalising content based on these learnings is you don’t have to try and reach everyone with every communication. You can tell better, more targeted stories because your audience is more clearly defined. You understand their goals and needs more clearly.
For Content marketing insights and tactics specific to the needs of financial marketers.
3. Surprise them
Finance brands are risk averse for the most part, and that is understandable. They have a lot to lose if they get it wrong.
So the tendency is to play it safe, blend in. Look at what everyone else is doing and do the same, but with your branding on it. But there are non-risky ways to not blend in.
Like, using imagery that is memorable, that doesn’t look like stock imagery. Create it from scratch if you have budget.
Tell stories your audience doesn’t expect from you. For a wealth manager, that might mean revealing something about a principal’s past that has led them to the job they do today – helping people invest their money.
For a retail bank, that might be publishing research about consumer spending habits and tying it into stories about fashion, pets, gardening, mental health – any areas of interest identified.
4. Make it read-worthy
If you want your audience to devote the minutes it takes to read your blog, listen to your podcast or watch your video, then make it quality. Make it good storytelling. Make the most of language, metaphor, voice.
Legal disclaimers must often accompany content, but that doesn’t mean the stories should be similarly formal or dry. Use the language of your audience, in a subtle way. Good writers and producers know how to do that.
5. Make it more readable
Does your blog feel like every other webpage on your site? Or does it feel like a magazine?
Take your cues from traditional publishers online. Look at how they arrange information in columns, insert photographs, add pulled quotes and sidebars. Listen to how popular podcasts are produced, how they maintain interest. Watch the work of professional video makers – what are their tricks for luring people in and keeping them watching?
Then look at your own content. If it’s not doing its job of informing and entertaining, before it starts selling, then it might need a shake-up.
If you don’t have the resource inhouse to make better content, then look outside your organisation for quality writers, podcast producers and video producers. People with the skills and ideas.
And if you’re already doing all of that, congratulations: you’re delivering on the promise of financial content marketing.