How finance brands can rebuild SMB trust

The playbook for re-engaging SMBs on social.

August 14, 2015

There’s much to be optimistic about in our recent survey of Small and Medium-sized Businesses across EMEA. Two thirds of those businesses are experiencing growth and 14% are in a hyper-growth phase with revenue increasing significantly year-on-year. For finance brands though, there’s more worrying news. Despite the improving economic situation, there has been little rebound yet in the trust these businesses have for finance providers. In fact, 31% say they have less confidence in the financial services industry now than they did just a year ago. Only 6% say their faith in finance is improving.

How can finance marketers rebuild the trust that seems to have been lost over the financial crisis? The good news is that, at the same time as highlighting the issue, our study points the way to a solution. SMBs’ return to growth may not have restored their faith in finance, but it has hugely reinforced their faith in social media solving a broad range of business challenges. If finance marketers want to demonstrate how they can contribute to future growth then it’s on social media that they’ll need to do it.

Here are the five steps that finance brands can take to become part of the conversation on social – and part of the solution in SMBs’ eyes:

Step 1: Get active on the right social platform

Social media is the tool that SMBs trust to solve a broad range of business challenges: 79% say it’s important for marketing, 68% say it’s vital for retaining customers and acquiring new ones, 56% say it helps them to find the right employees, and 44% have used social for at least one financial purpose. 

Step 2: Engage on the relevant business challenges

SMBs don’t visit social platforms in the hope that a finance brand will start selling products to them; they come there to seek insight and guidance on solving specific business issues. To rebuild trust, you need to demonstrate how you can help to solve these challenges. Targeting tailored content at different SMB segments is a good place to start, since SMB owners tend to define themselves by the type of business they are in rather than the size of business they are. However our study also identifies key themes that can provide opportunities to add value: increasing profit margins is identified as a top business challenge by 30% of SMBs while managing cash flow is a priority for 22%.

Step 3: Demonstrate credibility on the proof points that matter

When asked what would increase their confidence in financial services, 66% of SMBs said more transparency, 53% wanted clearer product explanations and 37% picking out a rapid response to enquiries. Finance brands can demonstrate credibility on all these points through the content they deliver, and how they respond to the discussion it generates. Aim to put products in context, don’t dumb down the important detail – and ensure you are targeting products at SMBs they are actually appropriate for. Monitor comments carefully for the opportunity to add further value.

Step 4: Empower independent decision-making

SMBs’ faith in social comes from its role as an enabling tool – and the types of financial content they seek out reflect this. Do-it-yourself content such as best practice and how-to guides tops the list. Customer stories, case studies and testimonials all add value through informing decision-making. Market commentary that delivers expert insight also has a role to play. 

Step 5: Address the entire purchase funnel

Value-adding content provides brands with a platform amongst the SMB audience, but it’s how they use this stage to nurture prospects through the funnel is key to defining their success. Our research highlights that SMBs use Linkedin to engage at every stage of the decision-making process when making finance purchases. By developing nurture streams that respond to the content SMBs engage with, you can ensure that you deliver clear, relevant product information to the right audience at the right moment. At the end of the day, it’s this relevance and clarity that SMBs demand most.

Check out the full research presentation below:

You can also view local research findings for a number of markets