These are unsettling times, for us all as individuals, and for the majority of us, professionally. For our client base in financial services, effective communications with customers and staff will be vital, and content marketing is well-positioned as a crisis response tool.
Nearly all businesses in the UK will be affected by COVID-19, whether it’s working in close contact with customers, struggling with a reduced workforce, or diverting focus to rapid response on customer and colleague concerns during a confusing and rapidly changing period.
Content has never been about driving sales – it’s about building relationships. Apart from reassurances about continuity of service, each segment of the industry will have vitally important specific messages for their customers.
The turbulence in the markets will require steady handling from wealth managers, asset managers and private banks. The deployed measures to help control the virus will have potentially devastating effects on small and medium sized business in particular, which needs to be addressed by their banking providers. Insurance companies will be inundated with requests for compensation from businesses and holiday makers.
Now, more than ever, is when effective content marketing is needed.
Plan your way through crisis
A carefully planned content calendar will ensure that you are getting all of the right messages to the right audiences in the right format through the right channel. This flexibility is what makes content so vital right now.
For example, institutions, intermediaries and individual investors will be looking for different levels of detail in their asset managers’ response to the market turbulence. With careful planning, all three responses can come from the same starting core asset.
With such an evolving situation, steps will need to be taken to update regularly – ideally on daily basis – and consistently. Think about what format will work best for you. You should consider a specific sub-brand for this content so that your audience can quickly identify it for what it is.
Retail banks will need a range of messages split between customer-based and product-based. Some of these will be informative, some will be reassuring. Some will be responding to Government initiatives, but getting ahead of concerns will make customers feel more confident. Much of the public will feel helpless and overwhelmed – how can we make them feel empowered?
Clients of private banks may have concerns not just about their investments but also their legacy – how will the market turbulence affect their stint at the helm of the family’s wealth? How will it impact the inheritances they are planning for their children? How long will it take for their finances to recover? Older customers may be used to regular face to face contact with their advisor – how can that be replaced in a way that adds value?
Small businesses will be looking for a very wide range of support from their bank, from ‘what exactly are the rules I need to follow?’ to ‘what support is available?’ to ‘can you inspire me to find other sources of income during this crisis?’ Using some more creative formats for inspirational and emotionally supportive content could help you stand out and even provide a moment of relief from the intense pressure they will be feeling.
So, take a deep breath and create a plan. Cohesion and consistency will be key. As will empathy. Think deeply about your audiences and their priorities. Is it information? Or reassurance? Or inspiration? Maybe it’s just acknowledgement.
Brands that provide the most timely, comprehensive, useful and engaging content now will strengthen relationships that will hold better when the clouds clear. And those that don’t, will leave their customers feeling under-served and ready to move on.