The Need for Simple Storytelling

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Janet Du Chenne

Editorial Director, Marketing

Corporate Bank Deutsche Bank

Author: CIM PR Team

The recent Gramercy Institute’s Financial Marketer’s Forum gathered the collective wisdom of content marketing practitioners from asset management, banking and third party agencies. Deutsche Bank’s Janet Du Chenne reports on the talking points arising at the event, as they discussed their content priorities for 2020

Financial institutions are ratcheting up their content arsenal to target external audiences. The successful ones are those who can simplify their messages and tap into the human element.

The Gramercy Financial Marketers Forum on 13 November 2019 in London illustrated this point by reminding practitioners that content should convince people why they should care about a message rather than describe what financial institutions do. Show, don’t tell. It should also recognise that audiences make emotion-based decisions, and by empathising with their pain points you can show the steps needed to help address them.

“We should avoid irrelevant content that doesn’t show the ‘how’ as audiences not only want to know about a company’s achievement but also the process of how they got there,” said Katerina Rabava, marketing lead at BNY Mellon Corporate Trust, speaking on the first panel discussion. I was proud to hear her kindly reference Deutsche Bank’s flow magazine as an example of content that remains product agnostic and its ability to tell interesting stories that engage audiences with client case studies.

Driving engagement with content in 2020

The panel titled “What makes a great financial brand” urged the audience to rethink the phrase thought leadership. There is overuse of the phrase with many people thinking that their content is going to be relevant for all types of audiences, insisted Claire Evans, marketing director at UBS Asset Management. They should rephrase it as thoughtful content as this empathises with what specific audiences care about.

Empathetic story telling demonstrates a company’s understanding of audiences’ pain points and shows alignment of their values and purpose with those of the client. SAP was highlighted as an example of a brand that engages customers and investors with their core values and shows how this translates into the bottom line. This client-centric approach is a mixture of emotion and metrics, added Rabava.

This authenticity arises from companies’ ability to nurture audiences with interesting stories that make connections between themes and trends that affect them and financial services.

Triggering emotional decisions with engaging content

A presentation titled ‘Connecting with financial audiences through authentic touch points’ reminded marketers that audiences are individuals who operate on emotion when making choices. So it’s important to hunt out the interesting stories that they care about. “Decisions are emotional things,” said Katy Spreadbury, director at content agency Vested. “We might not think so, but they are. Emotion makes the decision, logic justifies it.”

Spreadbury’s presentation foretold the death of personalisation and encouraged marketers to choose a style when addressing certain audience types and stick to it. “For some brands it does not suit them to be so personal when addressing readers,” she said. “At the same time, a B2B brand that moves from a formal to a relaxed approach when communicating to sophisticated financial audiences will come a cropper.”

Content marketers should also encapsulate certain values as audiences are becoming more activist and care more about sustainability and environmental, social and governance, or ESG, factors when deciding whether to buy a company’s product. “ESG-related content has worked well in the last 18 months,” said Theo Casey, director at content agency Marketcolor.

Exploring all channels to distribute content

This content should use multiple channels to reach audiences since people differ in terms of how they digest information. “Podcasting on ESG topics has worked very well for asset managers and research teams,” noted Casey.

In addition to podcasting, other top channels for 2020 include videos, blogs and editorial articles which are shared on social media and online. Media houses will continue to be important partners for distributing content.

Measuring successful content

Marketers should focus on data and metrics to measure success. “We should understand the client experience of the message and how they connect to different touch points,” says Rabava. “This design thinking approach also fosters connectivity between sales, marketing and product teams. Focussing on key clients and how they connect will be a key theme for account based marketing in 2020 to help companies to better engage their audiences.”

Dramatic change in content marketing means simple stories that audiences care about are more likely to engage them. “If the audience enjoy the content, they will give it their time and permit a brand to also be a part of the message,” said one respondent to the prestigious World Media Group survey of content-led marketing. With that, the take-away from the forum was loud and clear: the client voice should dominate a content driven approach and financial institutions would do best to listen.

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