Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Lessons from 2009 and what it means for 2010 for financial services communication

Tonight as we held drinks with colleagues in our Sydney CBD office one client jokingly asked "GFC. What's that?"

And it was actually funny because for the smallest moment we'd forgotten how this year began.

As 2009 started most of us working in financial services could think of nothing else.

As the year ends most of us are thinking about next year - how to capture more of our markets, how to take a new market or to re-establish ourselves.

The themes our clients are talking & asking about are now completely different to this time last year or to just a quarter ago.

Just a few months back we were talking about fund retention, preserving reputation, staying in front of investors or clients to build trust, and cutting costs.

Now it's all about proactive communication, educating or engaging investors, content marketing, building brands and marketing ROI.

In a year where there were plenty of hard lessons what are the stand outs and what does it mean for 2010?

So what are the communication lessons from 2009?
I've put this short list together based on the experiences shared by our clients and the work we've done this year.

1. Earning clients or investors trust is an ever-present task....the more we do now, the most goodwill we'll 'bank' for a rainy day
2. Educating clients and investors is now a requirement, not a 'nice to have' for most financial services marketers
3. Marketing budgets are in fact largely discretionary...but strong communication is not. Businesses were threatened when communication was poor enough. And others thrived this year thanks to better-than-average communication.
4. Return is everything, cost is not. Dollars spent now have to work harder to deliver outcomes and show a return on objectives or investment. In this new, more thrifty paradigm, "cheap" can be good in marketing as long as it delivers a return - the same is true of larger spends.
5. Good people are still worth their weight in gold. The businesses who managed to keep their best marketing and communication people continued to deliver the best marketing, media and communication results.

What's ahead in 2010?
Predictions are dangerous but what the hell...it's my last post for the year and I think I've got a clear bead on what CEOs and marketers want from us in 2010.

Here are the top four things I think we'll see in financial services marketing communication in the year to come:

1. Cost pressures will remain - forcing ever more efficient results from all marketing spends and driving the "evolution of evaluation" and online delivery
2. Financial services PR will come to mean both traditional and online PR as financial services and wealth management firm migrate their traditional PR online (here's how to do that!)
3. Direct-to-consumer will rise as the new perceptual battle ground for PR. While media outlets will remain hugely influential, financial services brands will now be battling harder for the first page of Google, not just media coverage dominance
4. Education, particularly via content marketing, will come of age in financial services. Where once it was the lone voice of BT, in those long copy ads of the 90s, it's now going to be micro sites such as the Perpetual one - populated not with a few key themes but with a veritable library of content - "markeducation" to investors.

On that note, I'm signing off for the year. Posts will resume in late January, and I'll be moderating comments in the meantime...and of course still interested in your views as we talk on or offline about the posts and all things financial services communication.

Thanks for reading, and for your comments this year...and happy holidays.

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