3 Ways to Achieve Brand Differentiation in Your Financial Services Marketing

In a sea of sameness, this is how to stand out.

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In the world of financial services, there’s a lot of overlap across products and services. Banks and other finserv companies are also addressing a very broad audience. As a result, financial services content blends together, making brand differentiation even more difficult.

“This is an industry that has always struggled to differentiate,” says Simona Covel, senior vice president of content at Imagination. But nowadays, with less face-to-face connection with your audience, “there is just more urgency around it,” she says.

Covel and two other experts discussed how financial services organizations can use content to drive brand differentiation in a recent webinar, “How Financial Services Companies Break Free From the Sea of Sameness,” hosted by the Content Marketing Institute.

Here are three of their top tips for achieving brand differentiation through your financial services marketing:

1. Lean into what makes your brand unique.

Before you can do this, of course, you have to understand how your brand is fundamentally different from other financial institutions. That isn’t easy for large companies to determine.

“The large legacy organizations have been built from the ground up around products,” says Todd Cywinski, chief growth officer at Imagination. “So it’s a big shift. New financial services organizations and fintech companies have an advantage because they are built around an audience or a customer. They were created with that differentiation in mind.”

Motley Fool is a good example of a financial services company that’s clear about what makes it different, says Alli Berry, the company’s SEO director.

“We have a pretty unique brand: Our mission is to make the world smarter, happier and richer, and I feel that all of that really comes together nicely for us in that we know exactly who we are and what we’re trying to accomplish.”

2. Tailor your messaging for specific audiences.

Your company can’t be all things to all people. Instead, you need to break your customers down into groups and target those groups with the specific marketing content they want, using unique SEO and distribution methods to achieve brand differentiation.

“This is why you see some of these new-line financial companies have such great success with content marketing, because they know exactly who they’re talking to,” says Covel. “They’re relentlessly focused on that audience.”

The reality is that it might not feel like your audiences are dramatically different, Covel acknowledges. But maybe you have an extremely high-touch wealth management group that knows families really well, or you’ve brought together a group of small-business owners who share advice and insights with each other. Those are great differentiators that you can begin to create a content strategy around.

To get started targeting your niche audiences, Covel recommends finding internal champions and then launching a pilot project.

3. Be strategic with your distribution strategy.

“This is a critical piece, and the biggest mistake people make is thinking of this after the fact,” Cywinski says. “Once they have content or they have a message, they figure out: Okay, how are we going to get this in front of people?”

Instead, distribution needs to be part of your financial services content strategy: As you’re planning your content for certain audiences, create a distribution strategy that will reach your audiences where they are.

“You have to know what they want, but then you also have to know how they’re going to consume it,” Covel says.

One company that does this well is Goldman Sachs, Cywinski says, with differentiated content delivered via podcast, articles, videos, research reports and more.

Berry says another way to achieve brand differentiation via distribution is to borrow someone else’s audience: Volunteer to be interviewed by a reporter on a topic you’re targeting or to be a guest on someone else’s podcast.

For more expert tips on content marketing in financial services, watch the full webinar.

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