You are definitely not on a typewriter, but definitely in the midst of a crisis. What's a financial marketer to do?

Financial Marketing in the Age of Coronavirus

Well, the shoe finally dropped. We’ve all been waiting for it since 2008, and now the real market correction/bear market/recession/OMGWHATDOWEDO is finally here.

Despite the fact that we’ve been waiting for some time for this moment – many financial marketers can still be left questioning exactly how to approach their jobs in the age of coronavirus. The reason is understandable: We know we all want to be marketing, but at the same time, risk aversion, complete uncertainty and real financial business pressures can cause an all-out freeze in the way we go-to-market on behalf of our brands.

While you can always just contact us for a free consultation, you can also read on for three thoughts for how to adapt your approach to financial marketing for the foreseeable future:

What’s Your Differentiated Take?

Financial marketing is already rife with content – and now, not only do we have too much content, we have too much content about one topic: Coronavirus and the markets. We don’t suggest that you not message on coronavirus – indeed, you’ve probably seen your metrics skyrocket just by messaging about the topic at hand.

But those very same metrics present an opportunity – how do you use all of those extra views and attention to actually gain real long-term traction? Think about it: Everyone is writing the typical “coronavirus, the markets, and what you can expect” piece.

The question you need to ask is, what’s your brand’s unique take? Start with who you are, what makes you different, and what your unique brand purpose is. Then, think about how to address the topic with consistency from a perspective that’s relatable, engaging and differentiating.

A few examples:

  • Vanguard should be pushing one of the ideas they pioneered – you can’t control the markets, but you can control your fees. Now is no better time to point out that “we were right” – and here’s why investing with Vanguard matters more than ever.
  • Previously, we had seen BlackRock’s recent market commentaries leaning into sustainable investing, which has become a key brand tenet – this was a “branded entrypoint” into talking about the crisis. But interestingly, their market commentary seems to have pivoted to a more generic “what we think” mentality (admittedly, what BLK thinks is always important, so they can get away with it).
  • Morgan Stanley, who has leaned heavily into capital benefitting society, has done a great job making its feature coronavirus article “Why the Coronavirus Puts a New Lens on ESG Investing.” Points for Morgan Stanley!

Pull Marketing Really, Really Matters Right Now

If you’re a good financial marketer, you know that one of the most important viewpoints you need to constantly consider is that of your peers on the sales team.

It’s an odd time, though, for our friends in sales. Can they really prospect? Does that lead they’ve been chasing really want to be bothered right now? Sure, they can do the classic “I’m here to help” or “I’m thinking about you” note – but that is only going to take them so far.

Yes, budgets are (and should) be pulled back right now, but some targeted, tight digital advertising “ambience” can still go a long way. Think hard about the opportunities for sales right now. If you’re an asset manager, perhaps it’s a bond fund that’s weathered the recent volatility. If you’re a financial advisor, there are sure to be loads of investors who suddenly realize that their advisor isn’t quite there for them, or that their portfolio wasn’t quite what it seemed. Run advertising against these use cases with the right target audience in order to remove the “coronavirus barrier” from sales.

Finally! A Chance for Some Emotion.

Finance is a field focused on numbers, so naturally that’s where our comfort is. The industry doesn’t necessarily do “feelings” all that well. And yet, we know that in a commoditized industry, it’s affinity and deep customer relationships that will make all the difference.

The interesting thing about this time period is its difference with the 2008 recession. While 2008 pitted “Main Street against Wall Street”, coronavirus has been quite “egalitarian” – the virus and its economic fallout has affected nearly everyone, in one way or another.

Just about everyone is upset – and everyone is looking for a little goodwill and help during this time.

Given the near-universal pain and uncertainty of coronavirus, there is no better time for financial brands to build emotional resonance and relevance through corporate social responsibility efforts. We would argue, though, that you still should think about these efforts through the lens of your brand. What can you do to help that is also true to who you are?

An example: American Express should be absolutely owning the small business recovery efforts right now. They were slow to the punch, but it’s good to see that they are finally pushing a movement to support small businesses on their Small Business Saturday page and offering strong, relevant content on Open Forum. We’d love to see them be a bit more bold and really put their money where their mouth is – be the saviors of small business! – but hey, that’s easier for us to say than it is for them to do it.

In summary…

  • Your Brand Matters Now More Than Ever: Yes, budgets will become thinner, but there is no bigger opportunity for your brand – and your content – to stand out at this moment. Think branded, think unique and let your overall brand purpose shine at this moment.
  • Market Smarter: There is no room for waste. A digital advertising budget with a strong emphasis on “pulling” in leads that your sales team otherwise can’t pursue is critical.
  • Emotion Rules the Day: Financial brands need emotion in order to overcome the commoditized view of their products and services. Use this unique moment when so many are hurting to show that you care…in a branded way.
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