Untitled-1.jpgNo one wakes up one morning and says, you know, I really want an insurance policy. No one says, I'd just love a 529 College Savings Account. Nor does anyone say I really want some stocks and bonds.

If this is true, then why do so many financial services companies spend so much time and money crafting their marketing content around things like umbrella policies or fund performance or account features?

People DO wake up in the morning and say, I really want a new car. They do worry about what would happen if there were some sort of flood or fire in their house. They do look down at their beautiful newborn and say, I really want her to go to the best college. And they do sit and visualize the lifestyle they'll have once they reach retirement.

To be fair, many banks, insurance companies and wealth management firms do understand this concept. The best ones do anyway. You will see some brilliant advertisements that reach through to the core of their consumer's needs, desires and fears.

However, there is something that most of these companies still haven't truly mastered. They aren't leveraging this messaging through true modern marketing best practices. Let me explain. To truly excel at modern marketing, you have to deliver the right content to the right person, at the right time. I'd argue that the front-runners in this space have a lot of the right content, but they're missing the mark in terms of delivering this content to the right person at the right time. In general, the content is distributed in a spray-and-pray fashion that results in prospects & customers receiving impersonal and irrelevant content.

Some of the better financial services companies might argue that they do a good job of targeting with their display advertising. Many of the display networks have some decent segmentation capabilities but I'd say that most of those segments are still pretty basic or infantile in terms of maturity. The depth and complexity of their targeting generally boils down to basic demographic and geographic data. For example, they might target women between the ages of 33 to 65 who live in the united states. Or if they get super fancy and their display tools/partners can take do it, they might include data on home or car ownership or other more personal data.

Even if they are killing it with their targeting and segmentation, almost none of these top financial services companies finish off the trifecta by delivering the content at the right time. The vast majority of companies in this space have yet to crack the timing nut.


Let me paint a picture. Call it the art of the possible.


Above, we talked about how consumers don't dream of a new auto policy, they dream of a new car. They don't dream of a sweet 30-year fixed rate, they dream of living in the perfect house. They don't dream of a college savings account, they dream of their baby growing up and going to the best school. They don't dream of an IRA Roll-over account, they dream of being able to retire and tour the world.

People think about these things from time to time in their lives but what is it that causes these thoughts and feelings to surface? Life events. Graduations, New Jobs, Weddings, Newborn Children, and sadly, Divorce and Death. It's the major events in our lives that really make us think about what we really want and need.

So, let's dream. What if, just what if a financial services company could know when one of these life events occur for a prospect or customer? And what if they had some engaging and valuable content (guides, handbooks, tools, training, etc.) that was aligned to this life event and once they were alerted to the prospect's life event, they could trigger a campaign that would provide this valuable content via email, display, social, mobile and physical(branch) and print to create a truly compelling customer experience?

What would that be like?

Tell you what. Let's make this more real with an example. There are dozens of potential examples but let me pick just one. How about an insurance example?

finserv1.jpgMeet Jen and Bryan Williams. Jen's 28 and Bryan is 32 and both are in promising careers. Because they look a lot like Acme Insurance's most profitable customers (or will likely be in the future), people like Jen and Bryan are on Acme Insurance's radar. Now, what if Acme caught wind that Jen and Bryan are shopping for a home? And then, automatically triggered a multichannel (display, social, email, print, mobile, etc.) marketing campaign that offered several valuable content items such as a home buying for dummies eBook, an infographic on the top things to consider when buying a home and lastly a no-nonsense guide to home closings? All the while, peppering-in content on why Acme Insurance is the best option for insuring their new home.

Because Acme Insurance has created a valuable, relevant, contextual experience, Jen and Bryan not only sign up with Acme for their home insurance policy, they also switch over their auto policies over to Acme as well. And they’re even considering other insurance products with Acme. All because they feel that Acme understands and values them and treats them like family, rather than as a number.

What would that be like?

Now, if you think this all sounds like science fiction, I can’t blame you for thinking that. But let me tell you, this is not only a real scenario, but it’s a modern marketing best practice for new client acquisition. What’s more, it’s just one example of what’s possible. I could give you a dozen more within the frameworks of retail banking, wealth management and more. Companies are doing this stuff right now. Admittedly, not too many companies in the finserv space are pulling it off but some are getting close.

So how would a company pull this off? What would they need?

Well, they’d need a best-of-breed data management platform (DMP). This would allow them  to perform look-alike modeling and orchestrate targeted display media buys. The DMP would need to have seamless integrations into their multichannel marketing platform, which would allow them to orchestrate targeted, multistep, trigger-based communications via display, email, web, social, print and more.

They’d also need an integration into a solid content marketing platform to facilitate the content creation and distribution. And lastly, they’d need a commitment to ensuring that their content is centered around benefiting the lives of their prospects and customers – as opposed to spewing product or brand-centric propaganda as so many companies do.

With these tools in place and the right teams and strategies behind them, an organization could become unstoppable in terms of being able create amazing customer experiences that result in exponential revenue growth for the organizations.

What do you think? Is your organization close to pulling this off? What did I miss? Please share your thoughts.