For financial marketers, 2021 will be a year to move beyond mundane generalities and focus on specific ways for their institutions to help consumers and businesses cope with the specific challenges that COVID-19 and the recession that surrounds it. accompanies have engendered.
Even as they build on the experiences of 2020, they will need to find new ways to communicate long-standing aspects of banking, such as the human element, as in-person banking continues to be affected.
The changes on the changes will continue. At Mintel and its subsidiary Comperemedia, the consensus is that âcompletely normalâ is not something that comes up.
Just as people continue to hope for the “new normal”, the truth is that “we certainly have some normalcy today,” said Lily Harder, senior director, Marketing Strategy, in an interview with The financial brand. âBut what seems normal today will not be so in six months and six months beyond. At Mintel, we like to call it the ‘Following normal âbecause it reflects the understanding that we are now dealing with an ever-changing target. “
For financial brands, she continues, this requires an agile marketing mindset. Messaging, media usage, product design, lead selection, and more all need to be smooth and able to move faster than ever. She’s even hesitant to predict where ad spend will go because she sees that as a fluid question too, as omnichannel marketing messages go where they are best suited.
Go beyond a financial product mentality
Harder says financial marketers increasingly need to realize that, from a consumer’s perspective, any message about financial services can potentially be about issues larger than money. People are more than account holders and think more about the financial products they use than just the characteristics of the products.
Smarter marketers get this subtlety, according to Harder. One example is âShe-Cession,â a term that recognizes that in many ways the current COVID-19 recession has hit women harder than many men. This is happening in two ways: 1. the impact of the pandemic on occupations generally dominated by women, such as caregiving, and 2. the impact of lockdowns on the role of many women in child care. children and home schooling.
Financial brands featured more women in ads and chose women to narrate ads more frequently. She notes that Robinhood “leaned into women” in its recent efforts and that Ally Financial featured women in ads that attempt to shift the conversation from traditional savings to investing.
âI give them credit for putting women first,â because this is a demographic that is looking for more investment help, âsays Harder.
However, she adds, marketing doesn’t always have to focus on finances. âWhile this is a key part of the stress and anxiety that women experience, it is not all. Women juggle life, career and family. That’s a lot, which is why the pandemic and recession hit them so hard. In a report on Financial Marketing Outlook, Harder cites SoFi’s Women in Leadership YouTube series as an effort that goes beyond money.
Harder also likes blogs managed by Ellevest. “They have a whole section on managing your career, and it’s about empowering and trying to help women take it to the next level, whether it’s personally, professionally or financially.”
Reaching out to women for COVID stress relief is one example of the need to help all consumers, as well as small businesses, cope with increased stress. Harder cites Bank of America’s Life Plan program, which combines personal goal setting and financial planning on one platform.
It’s time to take the next step
She thinks financial institutions need to take the second step, relaying the message that “we understand there is stress, but there is the next step, where we help you deal with the stress.”
âWe are seeing traditional financial brands being challenged by fintechs with innovative products that are really changing the mold. “
– Lily Harder, Mintel
In this regard, Harder believes banks and credit unions need to move beyond simpler COVID-related solutions like contactless banking. This is important, as are the continuous messages that institutions take security measures seriously, but the heavy lifting took place over the past year. The Americans have made the transition.
âWe are seeing traditional financial brands being challenged by fintechs with innovative products that are really changing the mold,â says Harder. “They need to differentiate themselves by incorporating the types of fintech products that are growing in popularity into their own offerings.” The ones Harder cites as priorities dovetail with the stress of the COVID recession: buy now, pay point-of-sale financing later, early access to paychecks, microloans and other new forms of credit.
The truth is, as everyone strives to meet the challenges of COVID, “everyone is tired of hearing about COVID.” 2021 will be the year of discussions on solutions to repercussions.
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Rethinking product lines and in-person banking services
Harder says the two-tier economy, where some people have lost their jobs and income, while others are relatively unscathed or even prosperous, has implications for the design of financial products. She says different needs will create demand for divergent products, but adds that financial institutions need to be careful not to market them as superior and inferior alternatives. It would send unhappy messages.
A critical distinction: âIt cannot be presented in two separate offers,â says Harder. âI recommend that instead of trying to create one bucket for this type of consumer and another bucket for this type, institutions think more about pay-per-view offers, allowing consumers to choose. They can then assemble what they need into a package that may be more valuable than the sum of the parts. ”
Harder says banking institutions can find interesting examples of this in the insurance industry.
âYou no longer need to sign up for a full term of coverage,â says Harder. âYou can get monthly coverage. You can even buy life insurance right before boarding a plane and cancel the policy later. “
The other major challenge is how to reintroduce the human element into the bank in new ways.
âI don’t think COVID has killed the human element in banking,â says Harder. âThe human element is very important to all of us, especially after almost a year of social distancing, isolation and confinement. “
However, she adds, the human element will be delivered differently, in many cases. “It could be in a branch with a mask on, or via online appointment booking or video chat or phone call.”
Indeed, adds Harder, “there is going to be a kind of race to find the most innovative way to deliver this human interaction and make it as valuable as possible.”
Is it time for some financial brands to give humor a try?
It brings to mind the role of humor in marketing – laughter, after all, has been called the best medicine. While America could certainly be laughing right now, Harder notes that few mainstream financial brands have tried humor. While outliers like Ally often use humor to get their point across, few other brands have taken this route during the pandemic.
âHumor absolutely has a place when it’s done tastefully, when it’s done with respect, and when it’s done in a way the majority of consumers can absolutely relate to. And I think that’s what they’re looking for, humor that they can relate to, as opposed to something out of the ordinary, âsays Harder. She says some non-financial brands have used humor to spice things up – a prime example is Mint Mobile’s use of actor Ryan Reynolds on social media – but she thinks many financial institutions still shy away from it. humor, maybe because of the bad experience Chase had on social media with his âskip the coffeeâ comment.
“Unfortunately,” she said, “it made a lot of brands nervous about getting a little sarcastic.”
And then there is the serious side
Another important trend is the continued demand from the public for brands of all kinds to take a stand on social issues. It started among young consumers a few years ago and intensified during the racial problems of 2020.
âThere’s a lot more pressure on brands to be clear about where they stand on a particular issue,â says Harder. âIt makes marks nervous because it can be very delicate, even alienating. But consumers are looking for brands that make such statements and make them part of their values ââand ethics. ”