We don’t need to repeat what you’ve already heard – 2020 was pretty unforgiving. This post, however, is not about the last year, it’s about looking forward to the upcoming year and beginning to predict what tools we might need to include in our arsenal for the coming year.
We’ve gathered insight from our clients, and the Financial Services industry as a whole, and have pulled together key activities that every business in the Financial Services industry should do now, to take their marketing to the next level in 2021.
One thing that will remain certain, especially for the early part of this year, is uncertainty. The most effective marketing plans will be built to be fluid, flexible and adaptable – that way change can be easily navigated.
When Covid struck and the country came to a stand-still, there was a wide-spread feeling of uncertainty both around people’s personal finances as well as the wider economy. For Financial Services companies, this presented an opportunity to step in and provide assurances and insight.
Starling Bank ran a content series offering money management and financial advice to those who had been furloughed. Moneyhub Enterprise, on other hand, made their unique insights available in the form of a spending tracker – monitoring the habits and trends of users and allowing businesses to see where and how people are spending (or not spending) and plan around this.
More broadly, when it comes to making these plans, don’t put all your eggs in one basket – as we’ve seen, anything could change. In terms of execution, consumers need brands they can trust more than ever. A number of 2020’s challenges are likely to remain well into next year and beyond, so smart FS brands will continue to step in and help the consumer navigate through this difficult time.
A lot of brands will be working with smaller budgets going into 2021, so keeping a close eye on the bottom line and ensuring shrinking budgets are being put to best use will be more imperative than ever. Any good marketeer will always be focussed on the performance – now is absolutely the right time to report back on 2020’s performance in detail ahead of next year. Marketing budgets are essential for business success, although can often be the first for the chop. Taking the time now to look back on this year will help bolster the likelihood of a stronger budget as we go into 2021.
For smaller brands, no matter which channels of distribution make up your marketing mix, ensure you are able to track each pound back to the source. This may mean spending more time in your website analytics or planning campaigns differently, to ensure that each member of the team is working towards a common ROI based objective.
More broadly, a lot of brands (particularly in the FS space) will work across different platforms and systems and these may not talk to each other. This year is a good opportunity to revisit this. Create a plan, along with other stakeholders, your marketing team, agency or partners and decide which goals are most important to you and begin to get those systems in place to allow for accurate tracking.
One positive outcome of 2020 was the increased sense of community and camaraderie, and this has been reflected in the business world too.
Organisations who have taken care of their staff and their customers have been rewarded and those who have not have had their cards marked. More broadly, research from summer this year shows that Financial Services brands are the least trusted brands by customers – although there are exceptions. FS businesses that take a personal approach can create a brilliant relationship with customers.
This year, take the time to say thank you to staff, clients, partners and customers that have stuck with you over the pandemic. It will go a long way!
There is a huge opportunity for brands in so-called ‘low interest’ categories to rise above the noise by pushing boundaries and going against the grain. This is particularly true when people are looking for something to make them feel good.
Brands in sectors like insurance, energy, banking, medical, law and so on are bound unnecessarily by un-written, and frankly antiquated, rules of branding and marketing. Each with a similar look, similar fonts, similar messaging and similar marketing tactics.
However, when a brave marketing manager bends these rules and gets it right, the result is often break-away growth. We’re already seeing a rising trend in comical or satirical ads, in place of emotional or aspirational ones, Tesco’s ‘No naughty list’ for instance.
And we’ve all seen it happen on the big stage in markets like insurance, with ‘Compare the Meerkat’ all those years ago, or more recently in the energy sector, with Good Energy.
It comes down to idea generation and creativity and the possibilities for creativity right now, particularly in the FS space, are quite literally endless. So, be brave, do something different and push the boundaries in 2021.
We’re all very aware of how quickly the media landscape is changing. New mediums online and offline are worth investigating, so use 2021 as a chance to consider what ‘new’ things you’re going to do. Key media channels have seen real growth this year, January affords some time to stop and reflect on what has worked, and to weave these into your plans for 2021.
Let’s take podcasts as an example, there are currently more than 850,000 active podcasts available to listen to, and 12% of adults in the UK listen to podcasts every week. You just have to look at the success of Churchill Insurance’s ‘Little Chapters of Chill’ campaign which harnessed the power of podcasts to promote mindfulness for families struggling during lockdown.
Podcasts work in the same way as any form of online media, you either create, grow and own the channel as many brands are, or you buy media to reach users that might buy from you.
Podcasts as a form of consumption are growing faster than any other. On top of this, the targeting is becoming more advanced and the audience is far less distracted than other online channels. Hence why 2020 saw the launch of dedicated podcasts from Barclays, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, JP Morgan and others.
Plus, the old can still be new – Newsletters have seen something of a resurgence in 2020, offering a welcome return to a direct relationship between publisher and reader. A great example of this is Morning Brew.
Creative approaches to video-led marketing, podcasts and newsletters are three of many interesting and accelerating means of distribution, to unearth new customers and more effectively engage your current customer base in 2021.
There we have it, five crucial considerations for anybody at the heart of a Financial Services marketing world, for a time that will hopefully be a fantastic and prosperous year for us all.
We’ve had the pleasure of working with a range of Financial Services Businesses, in the South West and afar. If you are planning now, for 2021 or you are looking to supercharge your marketing, we’d love to help.
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