The 7 Most Valuable Words in Financial Thought Leadership
July 6, 2017
An email popped into my inbox from my financial adviser last week. He’d found some research on an issue I’ve been grappling with; ‘I saw this and thought of you’ were the seven words of his email. So simple.
And so powerful. In research hot off the press, LinkedIn and Edelman interviewed over 1,000 C-Suite executives for their views on Thought Leadership. For 86% of respondents, the single most important factor in being effective was that ‘it’s forwarded by someone I know and trust.’
Is this being reflected in efforts by marketers? Globally, brands are investing over £5.2bn a year on content marketing. Yet in analysis by SiriusDecisions, less than 30% of this is activated by the front line. Even that sounds wildly optimistic. LinkedIn’s more recent research shows only 3% of employees share company content.
As part of our ‘Rethink Thought Leadership’ webinar series, we’ve convened a webinar to look at this putative £3.5bn gap. Ahead of this, we spoke to leading financial marketers on their views on the ‘last mile’ of content marketing.
How important is the front-line channel to financial brands?
“The front-line is our most important channel,” says Barclays Head of Content, Rob Ratcliff. “In terms of reach and impact, nothing matches it.” And brands are backing their words with action. “We’ve been putting a huge effort into front-line engagement over the last 18 months,” Lloyds Bank Head of B2B Marketing, Richard Carpenter adds.
According to Edelman’s Trust Barometer, for 55% of respondents; “Individuals are more trusted than the institutions.” This plays out with content engagement. “We get 3x higher engagement for content shared by Relationship Managers (RMs) than by the brand,” says Carpenter.
How do financial brands activate their content?
Not surprisingly, there are an array of approaches and platforms. For Barclays, at the core of their approach is an in-house ‘Industry Knowledge Hub’ where RMs can find content produced for specific industries.
For Lloyds, it’s a system they call ‘ShareIt’, where c.500 RMs select an article in their app and share, principally to LinkedIn. Across in Asset Management and Wealth brands like UBS, facing an added compliance burden, use all-in-one platforms like Hearsay 360.
What is essential is ensuring that the right content reaches the right people, in the right format, at the right time. For some socially savvy customers, sharing through social might be the most effective channel. For others, picking up the phone or pinging an email can have more of an impact.
What are the hurdles in front-line activation?
Across the board, the biggest challenge is winning the hearts and minds of the ‘internal customer’. “We’re building a complete view of the customer to better inform prospecting,” says Barclays’ Ratcliff, “the ability to see what clients are reading or watching and turning that information back to the front line, driving that ROI conversation.” His view is echoed by Carpenter at Lloyds, “We’ve almost reached saturation point on the amount of content. We now need to drive greater adoption and use.”
When asked, the almost universal response cited by RMs for not using systems is ‘time pressure’. For banks battling through ring-fencing and Know Your Customer regulations, RM is at risk of becoming ‘Risk Manager’ for many institutions. The irony is not lost on Ratcliff. “With the political situation in the UK, it has never been more important than it is now to make sure we’re visible, reassuring and relevant to our clients.”
But does marketing have to work harder? Do we have to put the same degree of rigour that we put into our customer insight and journey planning? I was struck in one bank workshop when an RM succinctly challenged her marketing colleagues. “You need to stop talking to us about ‘content’ for a start. I don’t need ‘content’ - I need ways into higher value conversations.”