Financial Marketing 3.0 is upon us. It’s not a matter of if disintermediation is coming to the financial services industry, but what our response to it should be. In this series, we explore how the needs and attitudes of our target audiences are changing and what financial services companies can do to adapt and thrive in this new environment.
Technology’s influence has grown well beyond the means by which we streamline our processes. Increasingly, it’s also about connectivity—about the Internet of things that helps keep us in constant contact with one another and the information we seek.
In fact, with so much information being exchanged—both willingly and inadvertently—it becomes harder for consumers to understand why the companies they do business with still seem to know so little about them, their preferences and their needs. It’s also why starting to think more like a tech company and less like a financial services institution might be in order.
More Than Features and Prices
Take Amazon, for instance. As a retailer, it’s constantly tweaking the customer experience to make purchasing through its website more convenient than running out to a store down the street. It does that not only by leveraging technology to speed the process of selection, ordering, payment and delivery, but also by automatically comparison shopping for customers, retaining shipping and payment preferences and anticipating what you might be in the market for next.
When it comes to marketing financial services, that seamlessness and the ability to anticipate can easily get lost in mass market messaging and e-blasts. This is where thinking more like a tech firm could make a difference.
How to Think Like a Tech Company
Integrating technology into marketing solutions goes well beyond maintaining a social media presence or making better use of Google analytics. It entails using each interaction—whether it involves long-term clients or the merely curious—to make the occurrence more meaningful.
Three Thoughts for Improvement
- Release and tweak. Tech companies tend to focus on rushing solutions to market and then working on improving them based on real-time usage and customer feedback. The process enables these companies to both innovate—and keep getting better—while deepening relationships with their users by demonstrating that they actively listen and respond to their needs. This is why many firms have stopped treating their websites as static creations and have started experimenting with them and adjusting to user analytics instead.
- Provide affirmation. Consider how tech giant Apple makes customers feel after a transaction. Not only does each product come packaged in a way that makes a purchase feel like a special gift, there are affirming emails and enthusiastic support staff in the company’s stores who congratulate you on your choice. Simple, an online banking solution, appears to be emulating that approach. Its credit card, for instance, is “packaged” similarly to a retailer’s gift card. Moving this type of correspondence into the realm of packaging helps Simple convey a sense of warmth and excitement, while reinforcing the consumer’s decision.
- Go high tech for high touch. When technology-based solutions and processes are table stakes, it’s how a firm leverages technology to deepen client relationships that can make a difference. That means understanding what each customer who interacts with you might want next and serving up that content to make the next action easier. Programmatic advertising can be very useful in this effort. It effectively generates marketing messages on demand and can put a message in the right place at the right time and in front of the right pair of eyes.
Financial Marketing 3.0 as a Solution
As author Brett King concludes, “Constant innovation and testing of new ways and means to engage customers are the only things that will save banks from being replaced by more relevant mechanisms that utilize consumer will and device evolution in the coming years.”1
King goes on to say that new third-party challengers in the financial services industry will “invariably be faster, more adaptable and more in tune with their customers and their behavior.”2
This is why we feel established firms need to preemptively adjust by starting to think more like their challengers.
For more information on how Blue Flame Thinking can help you capitalize on the new realities of the financial services industry, contact Steve Schmieder at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 312-327-5120.
 Brett King, Bank 3.0: Why Banking Is No Longer Somewhere You Go, but Something You Do, John Wiley & Sons, 2013.