Marketing for financial services is a big subject. What is it, exactly, and how do you do it effectively? These questions can be particularly pressing for startups, where budget is limited and mistakes can be detrimental to the company’s success and growth prospects. For larger, more established businesses, errors could make the difference between gaining/losing clients to competitors.
Given the stakes involved, it is important to have a strong grasp of marketing as a financial services business. As a dedicated financial marketing agency, our team here at CreativeAdviser decided to put this short guide together to help businesses in this sector gain a stronger understanding of this subject – particularly with regards to digital marketing. We hope you benefit from this content and invite you to get in touch if you’d like to discuss your own campaign or strategy with us.
What is financial marketing?
Marketing is the process of promoting your business and its solutions to clients and prospects, with the aim of generating a desired set of actions from them. For a financial services business, this may involve producing an advert in a local newspaper with an invitation for readers to book a free pension consultation. Another example might be writing a blog piece (such as the one you’re reading!) with the intention that this will inspire the audience to read more content, building trust and connection so that they might eventually make an inquiry.
Please note that whilst financial marketing might involve advertising, this is not a synonym for marketing. Advertising usually involves an “interruptive” approach to marketing, whereby you put your advert in front of the audience as they are doing something else. The classic example here would be a TV ad placed in the middle of a show or sports match.
Financial marketing, however, also encompasses non-interruptive (or “inbound”) forms of marketing. Here, you position your brand in front of people who are already looking for the kinds of services you offer. SEO (search engine optimisation) is a good example. With this approach, you make efforts to increase your rankings in your users’ search engine results so that they are more likely to see your website and click through.
What is the best marketing strategy?
Just as there are many different military strategies and many different investment strategies, there is no single way to market your financial firm. The really important thing to recognise here is that marketing strategy is different from marketing tactics. Many financial firms pick a marketing tool to use – like a client newsletter or social media platform – and assume that this is their strategy. Yet using a tool is not the same thing as having a marketing strategy, however compelling that tool might be.
Broadly speaking, there are at least four marketing strategies available to financial firms:
- Market penetration. Here, you focus on your main target audience and seek to grow your market share in relation to competitors. For a financial planner, this might involve increasing their ideal client base living who live within a 20-mile radius of their office. Marketers sometimes distinguish between a “blue” ocean and a “red” ocean for this type of strategy. The former holds out very little competition and plenty of opportunity for expansion. The latter ocean contains lots of existing companies fighting over a defined group of consumers, and so increasing market penetration here will necessarily involve taking business from these other companies.
- Diversification. This is where you take your existing services (e.g. pension planning) to a new market. For a financial planner, this may involve opening another office in a different part of the country and trying to gain more local clients.
- Product development. Here, your company develops a new set of products/services in addition to its traditional, pre-existing ones. You then market these to your current target market. For a financial planner, this may involve bringing in an accounting function or legal function into your business and offering this to your financial planning client base.
- Expansion. This is where you design a new suite of products/services and offer it to a new marketplace. Here, the risk is highest but the rewards could be significant.
Deciding between these four approaches will depend on a range of factors unique to your business including your goals, client base, team and business structure.
Which marketing tools are best for financial firms?
Here, we are starting to enter a discussion about marketing tools or tactics. As suggested above, the best ones for your business will depend largely on your strategy. Other factors matter too, however, such as your buyer persona(s) – i.e. ideal/target client – and budget. After all, different audiences respond more or less to certain marketing tools depending on their preferences, and certain tools involve more budget and resources compared to others which can affect their viability/attractiveness for certain businesses.
Generally speaking, however, at CreativeAdviser we have seen SEO work very well for a range of financial firms. Here, you need to take a long-term view to your digital marketing, since it can take many months for your search engine rankings to build up and for results to start showing in the form of more website traffic and inquiries. Other popular tools include client E-newsletters and specific types of PPC (pay-per-click) advertising. The former can be a great way to build up stronger relationships with existing clients and to encourage referrals. The latter can be a powerful way to reach new prospects in the online sphere. You do need to know what you’re doing, however, as it can be easy to targe the wrong keywords and set up campaigns incorrectly – resulting in wasted ad spend.