Defining the Cutting Edge of Financial Services in the Digital Landscape

Banking and money have always been topics most people shy away from even if they know they need them, along with other modern-day necessities such as insurance. Both businesses and individual persons have changed in the way they see financial service institutions – and entrepreneurs are dealing with the problems of FSIs differently.

Now that digital is all the rage, how do you market money service ventures in a muddled marketplace? How do you ensure you can reach out to your market in the 21st-century plaza of digital platforms?

The answer lies in an age-old business adage: customer first.

Marketing has changed and so did customers. Today, banks have become a sort of bane for newer generations of people – they know they need it, but they don’t trust banks the way previous generations did. Millennials and younger customers are not so keen on the old ways of banking, and so have shifted to FSIs that do cater to their modern lifestyles.

There used to be a time when the title of “financial institutions” referred only to banks, but as industrialism and digital capitalism advanced, more players emerged to the scene.

Challenger banks and related enterprises have sprung by the thousands since the advent of the post-digital boom of the 2000s, with names such as Nubank having 15 million users and growing $906 million in funding. The Brazil-based challenger bank is Latin America’s largest fintech firm in 2019.

Likewise, investment firms and entrepreneurs have swung into the digital landscape and brought about new strategies to help these modern FSIs take the lead against traditional banks.

Where new banks lead though is where they are also weak. New players are facing challenges left and right with getting established businesses to buy-in, as well as being burdened with regulations that update often with strict requirements.

On the other hand, the established nature of legacy banks give them a better hand with a more stable customer base and financing, but they struggle also with regulations and the massive amount of resources needed to shift to digital.

FSIs face common problems that could be summarised in these questions with one objective in mind: Taking away the advantage from competitors.

If you’re a bank, a new challenger in the financial services sector, or a marketer for the institutions in this category, try to do a self-check and realign your mindset and objectives based on the result.

How well do you know your market?

As mentioned above, customers today, which will make up the bulk of the market in the future, are leaning more towards specific features and products. What else do you know about their needs, their habits, and their perspective on your services?

Your competitors might know more than you do – fortunately, there are social listening tools you can use that your competitors may also be using already. There are several ways to know what’s on your market’s mind:

Creative Feelers – Build up on your social networks and produce content that creatively asks what your market wants. Aside from the usual demographics, extend your psychographic data to include their purchase habits, what convinces them to sign up for financial products, and benefits they might be looking for.

Attend events – Some agencies and organizers create events that may include banking and similar services in their roster of exhibitors, and in today’s hype-oriented crowd, you just might get a great chance to interact with potential customers. You could also learn from research they may have done ahead, which will save you both time and money.

Some workshops are online, and even free. Make sure to cast your marketing team or relevant personnel to catch valuable information from information-rich webinars and podcasts.

What are your competitors’ strongest points?

It’s no secret that businesses shake hands while scanning each other out for weaknesses. The question is, how better are you at snooping on your competitors?

Most leaders and strategists target their strengths from where their competitors’ weaknesses lie. The problem with this model is that every decent organisation would have probably covered that part up with a failsafe to prevent such a pitfall from being taken advantage of.

What do you do then? Derive a weakness from your competitor’s strength. It may sound contradictory, but it is a viable option that companies in other industries exploit successfully. This is called predatory marketing.

To understand how it works, you should consider first what you know about your competitors, identify their most profitable products, their marketing strategy, and their content. From there, you can learn the specific strengths of their campaign.

There are several methods to derive a weakness from those strengths, which can be obtained from specialised knowledge providers and consultancies. Gain knowledge from them or hire their services to obtain a formidable partner in rising above the competition.

Prioritise your biggest hurdle: Build a Team of One Mind

Businesses and organisations are made up of people, and so their direction depends on where the people take them. For many FSIs, one conflict is so significant it is a stumbling block for growth: Fragmented teams.

Company leadership says they must prioritise growth, marketing teams will vie for product improvement, compliance department will target adherence to regulation. These minds leading to different directions create confusion for everyone, and an empathetic approach can only satisfy their motivation, but less likely to positively impact their strategy.

A recent development in thought leadership can provide a solution to this, which is the Culturally-Conditioned Process. In this technique, teams especially the leadership team are firstly convinced to buy-in with their prepared strategy. Because of this, other teams follow suit, in an objective and results-oriented manner.

Execution becomes easier with cultural conditioning due to the reduction of friction between teams and their processes; the transfer of information and communication of directives become smoother and clearer.

Is your customer experience delivered the same good way in all your contact points?

Once the worktable is set, the most important factor comes into view: customers.

In 2018, about 40% of salespeople said that getting a response from prospects is getting harder and that prospecting is the most difficult part of the sales process for them. Why is this so?

80% of companies in the same year believed they delivered blooming customer experience, but only 8% of their customers agree. This is a glaring truth that businesses, not just FSIs, need to realise: customers don’t experience the brand in the same way in the channels and contact points they have.

The solution then comes in the form of an “Omni Effect,” or an omnichannel messaging and great customer experience no matter where they come across the brand. Whether it’s with your sales teams, your website, or social media platforms, your customer should find that enjoyable ride in the same way.

To create this across-the-board ultimate user experience you must be ready with a comprehensive marketing and content strategy. It must include specific ways to get a singular message in all of your content in whatever platform, which includes tone, wording, and effect you want your customers to experience.

The impact of such an approach is so tremendous it will ripple in your market. With a unified message, singular great experience, and excellent products, no doubt you will turn your prospects and leads into sales soon enough.

Does your business vision have a futuristic approach?

Every business leader is anxious about the future. Success is not just being on top – it’s being ready to face whatever comes your way. Your marketing and content strategy should be aligned to grow progressively and flexibly.

How do you create a future-focused, high-impact vision, then? You go back again to your VIP: your customers. Know what they expect the most or anticipate soon. To do this, your approach matters a lot.

As entrepreneurs, it’s easy to get so caught up in the numbers game that you forget you’re doing business with fellow humans. People have dreams, fears, and things you can relate with.

A conversational approach is the best way to build relationships with your clients, and this can also secure your future, especially for financial products and services.

It’s not just a matter of empathy or flowery communication – it’s about meaningful connections based on listening and speaking with intent. When you have established a firm connection to your market, their trust will lead to buying decisions and grow further into recommendations. It’s a win-win for both of you.

Your competitors may have the upper hand, at par with you, or even behind – but these questions above will help you probe how well you are doing. Use the results to your advantage and find the right partners to help you in building your strategies carefully for the highest possible impact.

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