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The Joy of Marketing: A Thoroughly Modern Financial Services Love Story

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Written by: Danielle Stitt

Love your customers and they’ll love you back. That’s a key lesson from four days at Hubspot’s #Inbound15 conference held in Boston, Massachusetts last week. And here is my step-by-step guide on how to build, spread and share that love.

Inbound marketing is a movement. And it’s a movement that’s growing quickly if the 40% increase in conference attendees from last year is any indication. More important to us as marketers is why it’s growing so fast. From my discussions with attendees from all over the US and the world the answer is clear: because inbound marketing works.

Take conference organiser, the marketing and sales software company Hubspot, Inc. What started as a two-man idea at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2004 is now a 15,000 customer operation working in 90 countries on track to deliver revenue of US$172 million by the end of 2015. All based on using the inbound methodology.

In 1965, marketing was outbound, disruptive and it worked. With outbound marketing we interrupt whatever the customer is watching, reading or listening to with an ad or telemarketing call. Indeed, marketers in the era of Mad Men had it easy. They wrote an ad, bought media space, headed out to lunch with their girlfriends then home for dinner with the wife. Job done.

Fast forward to 2015 and our audiences are blind to ads, have out of control inboxes, don’t necessarily trust brands anymore and prefer to do their own research. They don’t want to be disrupted.

In 2015 the audience is king. Disruptive marketing no longer works.

Inbound marketing at its core is about thinking about how we can be truly helpful to our prospects – and in so doing turn them into customers. By being helpful we become the brand our audience trusts, want to do business with (when the time is right) and ultimately love enough to tell their friends about.

So how do we, as marketers, achieve this with the best marketing budget ROI? IN other words, how do we build, spread and share the love?

Step 1: Know thy customer – it’s all about the “why”

Before you switch off, thinking “yeah, heard the persona gospel before”, consider these two questions that go to the heart of nailing your personas:

  • Why do customers buy from you in the first place?
  • And why do they keep coming back?

Yes, you’ll also need to answer all the usual persona questions about demographics, lifestyle, pain/problem to be solved and so on, but remain focused on those two questions to stay on track.

To help you out, try this neat buyer persona building tool [hyperlink: www.makemypersona.com]. But go further to understand how and why they come to you at each stage of their buying journey to ensure you’re helping to solve the right problems at the right stage.

Pro tip: Three personas is usually the maximum. Ideally narrow it down to one or two. If you think you need more, go back to the “why” questions. While a potential additional persona may seem different from others at first glance, if they have a similar “why” they would come to you as your other persona/s, you may find that in practice, you already have them covered.

Step 2: Be helpful – and get smart with search

This is where your content comes into play.

Brainstorm the problems each persona may face at different stages of their journey and the searches they might use to solve them. So, early stage problem solving might involve general searches such as “licences for accountants”. As your prospects work their way towards a solution, searches becomes more specific, for example: “best solution for accountant looking to partner”. You’ll need to be prepared with content that addresses your potential customers’ enquiries as they narrow in on the specifics of solving their problems.

Pro tip: Top of the funnel (TOFU – a new buzzword I just picked up) searches tend to be shorter phrases, often using plural nouns (accountants). Middle and bottom of the funnel (MOFU and BOFU respectively – are you loving the buzzword bingo?) searches involve longer keyword phrases and singular nouns (accountant).

Step 3: Be found – spread the love

You may be the most loving financial service brand ever but unless people know about you it’s all for naught. While creating your helpful content, make sure you’re thinking about how you can amplify it across channels. For example, pull out great sentences that could be scheduled as tweets, think about 5 top tips that would make a good blog post or visually represent your report in an infographic (canva.com is a great free tool for creating these).

Use these teasers to encourage people to read your content and include social sharing buttons so they can share with their networks. Let them spread the love.

Pro tip: You can pay to promote your content but paid options work best when they appear as a natural find. Great examples of this are sponsored stories in Taboola or Outbrain or in social networks’ news feeds such as those on LinkedIn and Twitter. Just remember what mindset your customers are in and craft your message so it’s the right content, in the right place at the right time.

Of course this is a medium to longer-term strategy. It will take some patience to plan, execute, test and iterate before you become masterful. However, the rewards are a plenty and the field is open to those who are ready to move early. Perhaps that’s you?

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