Thought Leadership in the Financial Services Industry

There is a long history of banks using research as a sales tool. It makes sense; banks produce research on a company, industry, country or asset class and their customers use that information to trade. The same information goes out to various publications by way of media appearances and the like and the bank is seen as a trusted partner for its clients and the larger target audience.

There is a lot to be learned about this that can be applied to any company in the financial industry. While the content of what a company is saying will vary according to the goals it has, the principle of producing Thought Leadership content, pouring it into various shapes and forms and distributing it to relevant audiences applies to all.

So, let’s first talk about the possible content a company can use for Thought Leadership after which we discuss distribution channels and the reasons for choosing one or the other and then we can discuss the forms to distribute this content in.

Content to use for Thought Leadership

We can’t just use any content, what content we use should be appropriate to the target audience and the companies’ goals and Unique Selling Points.

So let’s say we are looking at an Asset Management firm called Company X, which trades traditional asset classes and has a target audience that is High Net Worth and located in UK. Let’s further more say this company has a low remuneration fee, provides online access to view trading activity and performance as well as the ability to fund, withdrawal and receive service online. It can be said that compared to ‘old fashioned’ asset management, cost, transparency and agility are Company X’s main selling points.

Company X would be well suited to bring across in its Thought Leadership content that it is on the forefront of the industry when it comes to transparency, cost and agility as well as being trustworthy (given the fact that anything to do with the finance industry needs trust in order to work) and knowledgeable on the markets. Content that would be appropriate would include thought pieces that speak to old fashioned asset management and its drawbacks.

So for instance, a piece on the average cost in the industry and the fact that this is affecting client profitability. Also, content about transparency and the lack of insight in real time as to what is happening with clients’ funds. Speaking to the agile service customers of Company X can receive, the company can point out practices such as in-person meetings and the fact that wealthy people are usually too busy to meet up for every minor issue. To induce trust we would want to discuss the companies’ stability, track record, its regulation and the management team to name a few items. Lastly, we would want to talk to the general market, what trades Asset Managers of Company X are putting on and what their position is on Markets, Countries, Industries and Companies, like is common in research and commentary.

In a similar but more in depth way as we did for Company X, using the strengths of your company to craft a content plan and talking points is important to keep focus on the companies’ goals and its selling points in all Thought Leadership content.

Channels for Thought Leadership distribution

Given your unique selling points, your target audience and the type of content you will produce, some channels for distribution would be more appropriate than others. Things to keep in mind when judging the validity of a channel include its distribution among your target audience, the quality of content present on that channel currently, the brand value of that channel (in the way that the FT has a better brand then The Sun when it comes to your target audience), how that channel aligns with your brand values (a ‘modern’ company might want to be visible online more than offline) and what type of content you will produce (see further below). Some of the available channels include:

    • Social Media
    • Magazines
    • Newspapers
    • Websites
    • Blogs (external and internal)
    • TV
    • Radio
    • Video sites (like YouTube)
    • Podcasts
    • Webinars
    • Seminars
    • Conferences
    • News wires (for press releases)
    • Emails lists (internal and external)
    • Mailing lists (also internal and external)

But there are endless possibilities beyond these. Within each channel, similarly, there are many options for distribution and the same criteria apply for judging which media to go with.

For Company X, because it is a modern company that wants to position itself against an old fashioned industry, the channels it chooses are online. It will distribute the discussed content via Social Media, a company research and commentary site like Daily FX (research by an FX brokerage), by content sharing agreement with websites such as Forbes where Company X gets sponsored editorial placement, by proactive PR outreach to secure quotes and interviews on websites such as Bloomberg.com and by uploading company video interviews on YouTube. It will also distribute Press Releases for SEO benefits as well as a wide distribution of its content.

Content types for Thought Leadership

Content for Thought Leadership purposes can be put into many forms. For instance, long or short articles, press releases, video, audio, infographics, presentations, images, emails, letters, screencasts, speeches in person and many other types of content. It is important the form your content gets put out in is congruent with the companies’ positioning, your target audience and the channels you will use for distribution.

In summary

We have talked about the ways to do Thought Leadership but have not discussed the reason for doing it as much. Getting in front of your target audience with the right message at the right time is great for acquisition purposes but much more than that, it allows any financial services company to get the brand awareness and associations needed to secure business in today’s trust driven market.

Whatever it is you decide to do, one thing is most important and that is to give your audience Value when they take time to read your Thought Leadership. If the content you put out is valuable and appropriate to your business, your target audience will read it and recognize its value by becoming customers if and when appropriate. In that way, good Thought Leadership content is a powerful competitive advantage in itself.

No matter what your communication goals are, if you are at the level where you could use some outside help with your Thought Leadership (content or strategy), contact us for a no-obligation consult or read more on www.mediagrouplondon.com.

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