Thursday, September 06, 2012

Best Practices in Financial Content: Content Marketing World

Early this AM AEST I headed to the Healthcare & Financial Content Marketing session to gaze into the crystal ball. By 4am Sydney time, 2pm in Columbus, Ohio my eyes were starting to glaze over.

But still, I was curious...

What exactly are US financial services firms doing better than the Australians are in terms of their content and online communication?

How can we learn from those further up the learning curve than we are?

What snazzy tool or approach can we 'lift and drop'?

One hour approval processes for one.

But maybe a not a lot more. The crystal ball was kind of cloudy!

Frankly there was less value in this session than I've seen at other, non-content, conferences. I'm not sure Content Marketing World has the vertical content nailed yet. By that I mean industry-specific streams. Or maybe it's just financial services.

So here are a few quick highlights that do offer value. And here's the health warning: we may have more to learn from non-financial services content marketers than those within our own industry.

SunLife's BrighterLife

SunLife publication BrighterLife has a life of it's own. Never ever does it promote product. No thinly veiled product push - after all that's hardly going to win consumer trust. So the editor finds herself having the same old conversation PR people have been having for decades.

It goes like this: no, that's not a story. No, the media/consumer won't care about that. And no, I won't publish it for you. Buy some space, don't try to earn attention with this content.

Is BrighterLife the custom publishing of the past moved online? I'm not sure. Maybe it is. As we said in 2009, that's essentially the roots of the content marketing movement - old school custom publishing or company magazines.

And if we fall into the same rut some of those publications did, our content will #fail. Because back then the content became tired, boring and self-interested. Primarily in my experience because we didn't invest enough in it - and we didn't do that because it wasn't worth it commercially.

What will make content marketing work (or fail) is the extent to which it adds value to the consumer. And to do that it has to be quality.

BrighterLife is only a year old and it's exceeded all metrics. So there must be real value there for consumers - or it simply wouldn't have traction. And the real value comes in part from keeping the product push on the SunLife branded platforms, and right away from the consumer-value driven brand of BrighterLife.

Wells Fargo private

At the other end of the market is Wells Fargo private banking content - key challenges include compliance. FINRA & the SEC are key - disclosures, risk information all have to go in without disrupting the end user's experience of the content.

It will be interesting to see if ASIC take a lead from FINRA.

Panellists talked about how true journalists are now more and more willing to work with brands who are committed to genuinely educating consumers. There's never been a better opportunity for brands to go find good journalists who  can help tell interesting stories.

On the role of journalists...

And who is best at telling a compelling story? Yes, the sub-head gives it away. While there was some moaning about journos who have poor grammar (they've been propped up by their sub-editors for too long!) there was general consensus that journos are the kings and queens of the content marketing universe. 

Who, after all, knows how to set up a lead, engage the audiences and craft a really interesting narrative?

I'm attending Content Marketing World 2012 (#cmworld) from 4 to 6 September for BlueChip Communication. I'll be bringing back the primary insights for financial services in Australia, and sharing them with clients and colleagues. Email us to attend one of my (free) highlights presentations in Sydney during September, October this year or February 2013. 

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