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The Key to Making Content Work in the Financial Services Industry

By: Jody Scheldt, Marketing Manager, 6/6/17

Worldwide, marketers in the Financial Services industry are tasked with an extra layer of concern – they must ensure content adheres to constantly evolving regulatory guidelines while also maintaining brand identity.

In an attempt to drive more consistent high-quality content, many organizations rely on a rigid and slow content creation process, but this actually may be counter-productive.

A recent empirical study on content consistency found that agility is the key to developing content that is both consistent and aligned with industry regulations. This study was conducted by Demand Metric, a research and advisory firm, in partnership with MarcomCentral and examined the cause – and impact – of inconsistent content.

What is inconsistent content – and why does it happen?

Let’s back up and explore the problem in more depth.

Content fragmentation occurs when sales and content marketing for financial services fails to meet the standards necessary in both the buying journey and industry regulations. This content may be branded poorly, lack key messages, or express them incompletely. Without a consistent and successful content strategy, the information presented to the consumers will be disjointed.

The top five issues listed in the figure below provide the recipe for content fragmentation: lack of data, resources, a process, standards and collaboration between the content creators (marketing) and users (sales). Each of these issues were cited by one-third or more of the participants in our study.

Reasons for content fragmentation

One Source of Inconsistency: Sales Teams

As seen in the chart above, a top five reason for inconsistent content is a lack of collaboration or alignment between content users (sales) and content creators (marketing,) reported by 33% of respondents as a major cause of content fragmentation.

Over half of the companies in our study reported sales teams “often or always” (55%) ask for new or modified content, most often product flyers/spec sheets (74%) and presentations (56%).  While this team often expresses the need for content assets, they are also the channel through which many of these assets are delivered to customers, making it imperative that what they send is aligned to both brand and industry standards.

When sales doesn’t have the relevant content they need, nearly two-thirds of those in our study reported losing business, enough to threaten the job security of any salesperson. In these situations, Sales will often improvise their own materials to fill a content void. Over one-fourth of the sales teams in our study often or always create content without waiting for Marketing to do it, potentially leading to off-brand, unapproved, non-compliant assets.

There is no intent to harm the brand awareness and identity when the sales team improvises its own content; it is simply trying to meet a need. But improvised content may elevate the risk of being flagged by regulatory boards, creating unintended consequences for the financial firm.

How to Avoid Rogue Sales Content? Be More Agile.

To address this dangerous problem, marketing teams must create more agile content creation, and revision, processes. This means faster turnaround times, and more responsive processes to respond to Sales requests. Our study found a clear correlation between companies with agile traditional and digital content creation and less sales-created content.

The more agile the content creation process, the fewer salespeople going rogue.

We found that the lack of agility in the creation of new or modified content causes the rate at which the sales team creates its own content to almost double. This increases the level of fragmented content, because the sales team doesn’t always share the sensitivity of the marketing team for rendering the brand and the key messages associated with the brand consistently.

When new or modified marketing content takes a long time to update the sanctioned content repository, over one-third of sales teams often or always create content on their own. However, when updates are timely – within a week or faster – almost half of sales teams do not improvise their own content.

For more information about the research findings, including steps to take to mitigate the problem of content fragmentation, read the full report “The State and Impact of Content Consistency.”

Why does this matter?

With a self-service marketing platform, financial services firms and insurance companies can better keep up with constantly evolving regulatory guidelines while ensuring brand identity. With the sales department able to personalize pre-approved assets, financial brand content marketers can avoid potential conflicts and spend more time actually marketing.

To better understand how your financial institution can implement your own marketing content hub, read Modern Woodman’s case study.