As if the financial services industry hasn’t been beat up enough over the past few years, it’s also gotten something of a bad rap for its lackluster content marketing.
Let’s face it, while investment banks, asset managers, and other financial service providers are ahead of the curve in some ways, when it comes to content marketing, that’s rarely the case. Not only is the industry dealing with such heady topics as derivatives clearing and credit default swaps, it’s also hemmed in by an overwhelming array of complex and continuously evolving regulations.
As a result of these and other factors, financial service providers often fail to build and execute dynamic content marketing programs. Instead, they frequently rely on tried-and-true, but far less creative, tactics. Cue the deluge of exceedingly dry white papers and webinars, and the direct mail magazines that often just wind up in the trash.
To be clear, the problem isn’t a lack of effort, and it’s certainly not a lack of high-quality content. Instead, it’s the way the industry seemingly operates under the misconception that its heavy regulatory burdens both preclude and exempt it from taking a creative approach to content. Remember, those regulations are predominantly focused on what’s being said, not the style and delivery of the message.
Another problem is a palpable anxiety about the unknown that clearly stifles innovation and discourages a clear point of view. This is, in large part, why so much financial content rides the fence, and why so many companies are only just beginning to dip their toes into social media, a realm fraught with uncertainties: What if no one responds to our tweets? Or worse, what if they do?
Fortunately, some companies are forging ahead and beginning to take a more innovative approach to content.
Take Credit Suisse, for example. The bank’s digital magazine, The Financialist, offers insights into breaking news, as well as in-depth reporting on the issues, trends, and ideas it sees driving the markets and the economy. The site provides a combination of original feature stories, informative visuals, and carefully curated third-party content. It works because it’s a legitimate financial news site rather than a bank’s thinly veiled attempt to make its website look like one.
Sun Life Financial
Sun Life Financial’s Brighter Life serves as a place to share ideas about money, health, and family. Its financial content includes a variety of timely articles and videos with tips and tools for personal finance and retirement planning, among other topics. Sun Life has created a true community that’s targeted at families and, by wisely integrating a variety of other topics that families care about, makes the site a destination for a much broader audience. (For more about this content marketing effort, read our interview with SunLife.ca’s editor, Brenda Spiering.)
Bob Reynold’s blog, The Retirement Savings Challenge, is impressive because he is unafraid to tackle an array of complex issues. The CEO of Putnam Investments doesn’t simply articulate the challenges facing a graying population of baby boomers, he actually takes on retirement policy as it comes down from Capitol Hill. Unlike so many of his contemporaries, Reynolds offers up a definitive, and at times controversial, point of view.
So the answer is yes, the financial services industry can and eventually will measure up in content marketing if it thinks outside of the regulatory box and reinvents the ways it delivers its messages to resonate in the 21st century. Bring on the infographics and viral videos, the social media campaigns and blogs. It may just be a matter of taking a few risks, which in an industry as skittish and scrutinized as financial services, is no small feat.
If you are in the financial industry, join us for the Content Marketing World Financial Summit on September 12 in Cleveland, Ohio.
OpenView Venture Partners is a Content Marketing Institute benefactor.
Cover image via Bigstock