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What makes marketing in financial services so difficult?

The complex and competitive nature of marketing financial services has led to many providers to shine through with newer and much more engaging branding.

Inspiring consumer desire for intangible services, largely perceived as unexciting, is an everyday challenge for financial marketers, so much so that it has now become a highly specialised branch of marketing. I’ve taken a look at the difficulties in the industry and analysed the new marketing campaign of UK based CFD trading and spread betting provider Spread Co.

REGULATIONS
The practice of marketing financial services has very strict guidelines placed on it around the content of advertisements. There are very strict sets of criteria which need to be met in order to attain regulatory compliance with the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority). This restricts the advertiser’s creative process and with that makes the task of financial services advertising a highly unique specialisation.

VAGUE SERVICE ATTRIBUTES
Consumers’ education on financial services is generally very poor. This makes the task of helping consumers appreciate the differences among financial services often very challenging. There is also the added difficulty of being able to present such abstract products visually to maximise the cognitive and emotional impact.

CONSUMER TRUST
Securing a sense of mutual trust between the consumer and the financial institution has at times been a challenge in financial services markets. Distrust affects both the consumer and the company, as both may feel uncertain about the underlying intentions of the other party – an issue that has arguably become more difficult since the collapse of financial markets in 2007. Tackling this head on is vital to successful marketing in the industry.

SPREAD CO’S NEW MARKETING CAMPAIGN

Spread Co, a leading CFD trading and spread-betting provider, recently unveiled an ambitious new campaign looking to brand themselves as a trusted and accessible company. Shameer Sachdev, Head of Marketing at Spread Co, explained the importance of it:

“We see ourselves as the go-to provider for spread betting; delivering excellent customer service and fantastic value. We want to place emphasis on being a home grown company and hope that spread betting becomes synonymous with Spread Co.”

GOOD VALUE
Being a ‘value’ brand is a particular marketing technique that is used in many industries. Supermarkets and retailers for instance often tend to fall on to one end of the spectrum, luxury or value. In financial services spread betting is in essence the value alternative to trading on the stock market, so it makes sense that brands like Spread Co would adopt this angle in their marketing strategies.

                                

A ‘BRITISH BRAND’
The ‘British brand’ has become an effective way for companies to convey quality. This is not an easy thing for the financial services industry where quality is rarely quantifiable. The ’kite mark’ is often used in products and as a certification of good quality and has connotations of trustworthiness and reliability -- two traits that are extremely important for anybody looking to get involved with a financial services provider. By adopting this British flag and the slogan ‘ Great British Broker’, Spread Co are able to plant the seed of a quality service from a trustworthy company into the minds of consumers.

INFORMAL DESIGN
If any industry has a ‘stuffy’ reputation, it’s finance. Richard Groom, brains behind Spread Co’s new branding, explained the thought process behind this change in direction.

“We have created a campaign that we all feel is highly accessible to people both new to or experienced in trading. We have totally avoided talking, looking or feeling anything like a "city broker". It is important that we place the Spread Co brand on point in this campaign and carve them their own space.

The imagery of the quintessentially British sausage and this sketchy graphic style breaks down the overly formal perception we have of many financial services. With the simple addition of the flag, the branding again reinforces the strong ‘British brand’ message.

Marketing and branding in any industry can be difficult but the restrictions and perceptions of the financial services sector make it more so. In order to stand out from the crowd in a competitive industry providers have to find innovative ways of branding themselves and getting across their USPs to customers. Companies like Spread Co are a good example of companies who are abiding by FCA guidelines while still creating imaginative campaigns; marketing in their industry is difficult but it can be done right.