There are three key challenges currently facing the financial services sector: building trust with customers; embracing new technology; and challenging the challengers as more businesses look to diversify and offer new innovative products and online services. It’s an interesting time, and one where communications are critical.
To combat these challenges, all businesses have to think about the way they engage with audiences and tell their story. Financial services firms in particular need to be seen as human-facing businesses, which is why creating an emotional connection has become as central to a successful communications programme as the value-led product information you provide. In the past this has been far more common in the consumer marketplace.
From smaller start-ups to larger, more established corporate machines, both ends of the scale need help to do this in different ways. The latter often benefit from a focus on refreshing their communications approach and revisiting their market position, such as identifying more engaging and digitally-focused channels (vital given the current landscape of disruptive and challenger SMEs). The former, such as FinTech brands challenging the status quo, need help to build their brand and instil confidence in customers where the brand has a less supporting heritage to build a credible market position.
At Speed, we build a partnership and consultancy position with all our clients from the start to help them on their journey. Working with a wide range of finance and professional services clients, we are particularly adept at supporting organisations with a brave attitude to their communications who are looking to disrupt the market.
Our approach to communications is based on combining business brains with creative muscle. This means utilising intelligence and insight, alongside imagination and creativity. By combining these with the influence and connections we have with media and stakeholders, we create real impact for our clients.
The word impact is key for us. When approaching our work, we always consider the impact and how we can offer a return on investment. The bottom line is in fact a hugely important factor when it comes to external communications – how will our efforts support business development?
Thought leadership positioning to create brand awareness and reputational growth is central to this. From the start of a relationship, we believe it is important that we work closely with leadership teams to understand their challenges, and help to identify their vision, mission and leadership offer. Communications and marketing has an important role to play and should be driven from the top down, so we spend time with our clients to understand their business. We also take a deep dive into their marketplace to understand market trends, core competitors and key stakeholders so we have a clear view on market positioning plus barriers and opportunities.
Telling your business story in an engaging and emotional way allows you to connect with an end audience and demonstrate what you have to offer. Understanding audience groups by segmenting key decision makers and influencers to discover what they need and the challenges they face is key to this. This insight then informs the central narrative we create and the journey we aim to take a business’s various audiences on.
The truth is, it is becoming harder to stand out from the crowd. Businesses therefore need to be brave in their approach and willing to say something different, to have a point of view. This is particularly relevant in the world of financial services where everyone is vying for the same commentary space, to be seen as an expert commentator on growth, the economy, and of course – for the moment – Brexit.
Over the last ten years in the communications industry, we have seen colossal changes in the way we work and communicate; technology has been hugely beneficial but has also brought with it new challenges. We are no longer in a world where we simply push out content. We are now in a two-way discussion with audiences.
The use of social media channels and online content hubs have helped us to communicate news for our clients and provide commentary faster and more efficiently. These channels allow us to engage, have conversations and build emotional connections with audiences. And the speed at which this content is consumed is only expected to increase.
For me, remaining curious and relevant for our clients is key to helping them stand out from the crowd – with our business insight and intelligence we demonstrate this daily. When this is combined with creative thinking and channel knowledge, we are able to identify even more opportunities to deliver our clients’ stories to their target audiences in new and engaging ways. Together we are on an exciting journey and a strong partnership from the start is key to our joint success.