Sixty-three percent of businesses do not have a documented content strategy.
While at first glance, we may not think we need a content marketing strategy as financial institutions—that we have larger fish to fry—we may be missing out on a valuable way to connect with our clients and potential customers.
The Content Marketing Institute has discovered that 72 percent of marketers say that content marketing increases engagement, while a similar number say that it has increased their number of leads.
How can content marketing help your community financial institution compete with big banks?
Build Trust with a Community of Prospective Account Holders
There’s no better way to get close to our prospective account holders and retain current account holders in a digital world than through the content we create.
As a community institution, we have the advantage; the upper hand, to connect in a way that larger institutions just can’t; we’re part of the community.
Content is one way to remind our current and potential clients that we offer something these larger institutions can’t; we know them.
Content marketing is our chance to bring people together offline and online, to create value, to answer their biggest questions and their biggest concerns before they even ask them.
By doing this, you can position your financial brand to be known as the most knowledgeable financial expert in the communities that you serve. You build your own reputation.
What exactly does “community” mean for most financial brands? Historically speaking, a community was once defined by these physical boundaries that a financial brand would serve: a community was a city, county, state, or maybe even a region.
But now, just like everything else, communities are also digital.
I like to define digital communities as people who are aligned around a certain area of focus, a subject matter, or just an idea.
For financial institutions that handle the commercial side or small business side of things, a digital community might be a group of business owners. But we can dive deeper and get more specific. Perhaps this community is composed of dentists or ENTs.
On the consumer side, a community might be a group of like minds that are dog lovers, or they might enjoy a specific sport like basketball, baseball, or football.
This might sound like a very niche market, but this group brings with it a sense of community, and that in itself is the value.
“Niche” doesn’t have to be a bad thing.
In fact, one financial brand shared with me their potential chance to create value for an incredibly niche community: Those who are in the market for a horse trailer.
This might sound hyper-niche and hyper-focused, but it’s a community for which they can create a tremendous amount of value. This client found a way to become the expert.
Digital Community Success Stories
Incredible Bank is another institution that’s a great example of providing a service for a specific group of people. They've defined a community and created value for those that are in the market to buy a motorcoach. Their content marketing is geared around reaching this demographic. Their content is laser-focused on meeting the needs of this community, so with each piece of content, they look to provide expertise. They’ve spent time answering questions like:
- Who are those people?
- Where do they live?
- What do they do?
- What are their interests?
- What's driving their buying decision process?
Another stellar example of creating a financial community is the work that’s being done by American Express. Amex has defined a community of small business owners, and they create content that adds value for this community. Over the years, they’ve built a content platform called Business Class that gives their customers a sense of community and value.
The more value your financial brand creates is directly tied to how well you define a group of people; a community framed around common values, common ideas, common likes, and common goals. The more that you can define these communities, the easier it will be for your financial brand to both produce and promote content for them.
When it comes to content marketing strategies for financial brands, you must have the courage to narrow down your focus to a specific community or a very small group of communities.
Start with one community.
The Key? Defining a Specific Community
The only way to escape any type of complexity is with simplicity.
If we can take the idea of a niche community and one specific area of focus, we are more prepared to better connect with them.
This can feel very counterintuitive at first. After all, we want to connect with as many potential clients as possible. It’s a challenging exercise. Sure, we are saying no to a thousand other possible opportunities, and we’re only saying yes to one.
However, by saying “yes” to one community, we get to go all in and focus deeply on that one, specific, niche community and connect with them.
Once we define who this niche community is and how we can create value for them through the content we share, it is easier to commit to how to help them; how to guide this niche community.
I like to think of this strategy as going “ALL” in. This acronym can help financial brands gain clarity surrounding their specific niche community by providing perspective.
It’s a useful way to overcome content blocks and avoid content chaos that might hold other financial brands back from creating useful content that a community can connect with.
It’s one thing to develop generic, run-of-the-mill content. But in reality, generic content helps no one.
On the other hand, a community institution's strategic competitive advantage is just that, a community.
Regardless of whether this community is the physical world of cities, counties, states, or regions, or we pinpoint specific digital communities, we can tap into these communities by going all in.
How do you go ALL in?
- Ask: Ask the people in your niche community, either online or offline to gain perspective about what they want their future reality to look like. What are their hopes? What are their dreams? What does success look like to them? How will they feel once they arrive at the bigger, better, brighter future they are striving to create?
- Listen: It’s time to listen—with an empathetic ear—to what these people want and need. What are their biggest questions? What are their concerns? What's keeping them up at night? What are the roadblocks and challenges they need to eliminate that are standing in the way of the future they are striving to create?
- Learn: Once we’ve asked our niche community about the future they want to create and we’ve empathetically listened to discover what’s standing in their way, it's important to understand the feelings and the emotions that they have tied to these roadblocks and challenges. This is how we learn about the kinds of content and subjects our content can address so we can create value for this niche community as we guide them towards their brightest future yet.
When it comes to going ALL in, it doesn't matter if these individuals do business with you in the next week or the next year. You’ve offered them your invaluable expertise. You’ve aligned our marketing and sales teams with clarity as to how to create value for your audiences with the content you’re producing.
As a community financial brand, when you go ALL in you get much closer to your ideal niche communities much faster and more successfully than the larger banks who can’t deliver this level of personalization. From here, you can determine the types of content your financial brand will produce and promote.
Nurture Relationships and Convert Them into Loans and Leads
Another key content goal? To use the content you produce and promote to cultivate and nurture relationships with the leads that are coming in from your website.
In this way, you can build trust over time with them, because strong, personalized content is exactly how you build trust in today's digital world.
This is why content will continue to fuel the digital growth engine.
Think of content like making deposits in a consumer's trust fund—the one that sits between their ears. It can take weeks, months, or even years to build up enough “deposits” in a consumer's trust fund for them to grow the courage to take action with your financial brand.
The content you produce and promote will ultimately help to convert leads into loans and deposits.
This specific content is a way to emotionally connect with people. After all, it’s through these emotional connections that we can build the community we want to create. When you build that community or audience, you help to increase traffic to your website and generate leads from the digital community you curate. As I've shared repeatedly over the past few years:
One of the most valuable assets a financial brand can have in this digital economy is a digital audience they own.
The reason for this? When a financial brand owns a digital audience or a digital community, no longer do they have to worry about leasing or buying access to the audiences of Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, or LinkedIn. And if a financial brand’s digital community becomes large enough? They have the opportunity to align with others who can add value to their community. This community is the place where your financial brand will nurture and harvest lifelong customer relationships.
How You Can Compete with Big Banks
How can content marketing help community financial institutions compete with big banks? By prioritizing these three content goals:
- Create content to connect with people
- Use content to nurture and cultivate relationships
- Leverage content to convert leads into loans and deposits
Of course, these goals should be framed around your financial brand’s unique situation; by “going ALL in” to avoid producing content without any clear plan or strategy to guide them along the way.
When you have a clearly defined strategy customized to a specific community, you don’t have to suffer through the confusion about what kinds of content you should be producing:
- “Should we be producing blog articles?”
- “Should we be posting to social media?”
- “Do we need to start a podcast, or should we focus on videos?”
I like to call these “tactical checklist items,” and while these content list questions could go on and on forever, with a strategy in place you no longer have to spend energy-generating random pieces of content; you can devote your energy to connecting with your audience.
Otherwise? You could end up producing a lot of content, but you’ll quickly grow frustrated when your content efforts fail to create any value.
If you produce a piece of content, does it automatically create any value?
Like the old saying goes, if a tree falls in the woods, does anyone hear it?
The good news for you is that you can avoid some of these common content chaos traps because you commit your content marketing efforts to compete with the big banks by specifying and strategizing. your content.
By asking, listening, learning, and going ALL in, you will gain clarity about your niche community’s biggest questions, their concerns, the challenges, the roadblocks that they need to eliminate. This will help you better understand their hopes and dreams, to ultimately create their bigger, better, brighter future. When you Ask, Listen, and Learn, you’ll ace your content marketing strategy and connect with your niche audience better than those large, impersonal financial institutions ever could.
This article was originally published on February 9, 2021. All content © 2021 by Digital Growth Institute and may not be reproduced by any means without permission.