Reputation and brand management is critical in growing any business. A good brand is vital for encouraging consumers to engage or spend their money with a company and a positive brand reputation builds loyalty and ensures consumers confidence. Arguably, there is no other sector where reputation and brand management is more important than in the financial services sector.
When dealing with money, consumers are putting their trust and faith in you. People work hard for their money and it sustains their life. The financial sector has a vital role in society; from banks, to insurance companies and credit card providers – the majority of us use and rely on at least one almost daily. Sadly however, the sector has suffered a negative reputation in recent years, particularly since the financial crisis of 2007-08, followed by numerous malpractice and scandals over the years. As a result of all this bad press, the sector is still suffering negative perceptions.
In fact, the longest running global survey on consumer trust found that in 2017, just 45% of UK consumers said that they have trust in the financial services. 73% of the British public say that the industry has a rotten reputation and only 40% are happy with the service they receive from their bank. Considering that the financial sector rely on their consumers confidence in order to buy into and use their services, these aren’t great statistics!
So, how can you earn the trust of your consumers? A strong PR program builds the foundations of being a trustworthy company. Position yourself as an industry leader by working to appear in publications and blogs and utilise the opportunity to enter industry awards. If you win – or even if you get shortlisted – shout about it from the rooftops! An award or two will do wonders for proving your credibility to consumers.
Digital marketing such as SEO will help to put you at the top of online search engine results. If you’re not on the first or second page, you’ll be left behind to competitors who are. Alongside this, invest in your website. In most cases, your website will be your first impression and point of contact with prospective customers. Ensure that your website represents your brand, is simple, strong and provides an enjoyable user experience. Over-complicated websites where content and details are hard to find can immediately put someone off and they will leave and find one of the many competitor sites to engage with instead.
Content marketing is also key in improving both your SEO and positioning yourself as a thought-leader. The more content you produce across your channels, the more consumers will see you as an informative industry resource and trust that you know your stuff. Similarly, be active on your social media platforms. Use this space to monitor and respond to any questions and mentions about your company and treat it as an extension of your customer service, as well as putting out plenty of relevant content.
If, for any reason you encounter any negative comments on social media or negative reviews, it’s so important to address these. If you ignore them, they’re likely to snowball and you’ll damage your reputation all the more by not responding promptly and helpfully. Do what you can to turn a negative into a positive.
Also, try and make sure any negative reviews about your brand are not easily accessible on search engines if you can. Think about it – if a customer is choosing between two companies that are seemingly providing the same products at the same price, yet one company has a negative review, which company do you think the customer will choose to give their money to? Our advice is to respond to the negative review in question and invite them to speak with a representative from your company either over the phone email and direct the conversation away from the review, later asking them if they would mind removing the review all-together.
We believe that it’s so important to remain human and connect with your audience on an emotional level. The financial services can be daunting and confusing for consumers so making them feel at ease is a great way to instil their trust in you.
First Direct are an example of a company that does this well. Their brand and it’s values are built into the contract of employment for all employees, meaning that the message breaks out of the marketing department and seeps through into the entire organisation. Being ‘human’ is one of their brand values, so they make sure that every member of staff is a good talker and listener. Enforcing this ethos throughout won them second place in the Which? Customer Service survey back in 2015, beating the likes of John Lewis. Interestingly, First Direct are part of HSBC and have successfully differentiated themselves with their own identity, proving the difference that a good brand impression can make.
Another example of a brand who do this well is one of our loyal customers, LifeSearch. This life insurance company have a winning internal culture, with motivated staff who are happy and enthusiastic about their work. They make sure that this culture comes to the surface for prospects and the mainstream to see, encouraging them to instil their trust and money into the brand. All of their marketing and branding works in subtle linguistic ways to create an authentic, dependable and honest feeling for the customer – vital in today’s financial marketplace.
In order to build and maintain and strong reputation and brand within the financial services, put the customer first. Create a company that they can trust, put them at the heart of your marketing and at the heart of your staff’s ethos.
A recent study by Jaywing shows that financial service marketers are starting to follow the growing trend of becoming customer-obsessed, ranking their customer content strategies and customer retention strategies as top priorities. Being human creates real relationships, and relationships make customers feel special!
A lot of these principles must come from within, but it’s always worth investing in components such as SEO and content marketing. These important marketing fundamentals can feed into all aspects of a business, ultimately improving sales, reputation, visibility and growth – which is where digital marketing agencies can add real value to a business.