Most banks and credit unions use content in their marketing, whether it's a regular blog featuring financial advice, video content or print and direct mail pieces. But how you frame up this strategy and your ongoing approach can have a lot of implications. Content Marketing Institute's Joe Pulizzi walked through how FIs might take on an effective content strategy at this year's Brand Forum.
Here are some key questions you should ask yourself about your content strategy.
Perception is such a giant part of reality. So how do you consider yourself when it comes to content? Are you a "product brand" or a "media brand?" Pulizzi posed that question as one that many banks and credit unions haven't altogether considered. Your content should be meeting the needs of your end consumer—to provide true value, you may need to perceive yourself as a media brand. Product brands openly shill promotions with their content, while media brands offer advice, information and other items of value. They build brand trust. Then they monetize the content through mechanisms such as content offers to kick off the sales process.
It can be tempting to simply publish content that aligns with your quarterly goals—i.e., "I'm pushing an auto loan promotion this month, so my content should be all about said promotion." However, you should be determining your content based on your customer rather than your own ends. Make sure your content covers a mix of what you as a financial institution are best at (and have the most cred to back it up) and your biggest identified customer pain points. Does your service team receive a lot of questions about how what HELOCs are? Might be time to publish some advisory content on how they work.
True differentiation isn't always easy—especially in the banking industry, where every bank or credit union claims "the best service" or "the lowest rates." You need a unique identifier beyond the obvious. Pulizzi referred to this as pinpointing your "tilt." Your content is likely going to have some similarities to that of your competitors. Simply making claims about your service or rates isn't enough—try localizing the content to your market for added personalization, or adding interactive elements. Ask yourself, "Why would someone read my blog about the housing market instead of the bank down the street's?"
It can be tempting to approach a content strategy with a mission statement along the lines of "make lots of people read my stuff" or "sell all the things." Unfortunately, these are neither tangible nor actionable. Building a mission statement for your approach can be as simple as asking three important questions, according to Pulizzi—who is your audience, what will you deliver and what will the outcome be? This builds out a clearly defined mission that you can actually act upon (i.e., "To help members of the Denver region to understand their mortgages and make smart repayment decisions").
We're likely inclined to think that converted sales are the ultimate measure of success when it comes to a content strategy. But this is typically a long game—you're better off measuring your progress with other valuable and more immediate actions. While building Facebook fans is important, some of the most direct and strongest indicators of true buy-in and strength of a given lead is subscription to your emails, or follows or engagement on social platforms where, as Pulizzi put it, you're not playing by the rules (a.k.a., complex algorithm) of a third party—Medium and Twitter are examples of good indicators.