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The three lessons financial services B2B marketing must learn from B2C

The three lessons financial services B2B marketing must learn from B2C 3

By Michael Richard, Managing Director, Alan Agency

B2B marketing already has a reputation for being uninspiring and dull, particularly when compared with its consumer counterpart. Couple this with an industry like financial services – which is often laden with jargon, reliant on T&Cs and so generally faces its own set of challenges when trying to create provocative and engaging B2B work – and there is clearly a marketing issue that still needs addressing.

The problem often lies in a lack of ambition from agencies and clients to work together to break free from the culture of mediocrity in B2B comms. The result is many B2B brands are missing out because they are failing to tell their electrifying stories and share their extraordinary acts of innovation.

Instead of simply accepting that financial services B2B marketing is uninspiring, brands and agencies have the opportunity to look for the difference, unplugging a more ambitious attitude and digging for the truth. There is every reason why financial services B2B marketing can be more visceral, more provocative, and ultimately more effective. But to achieve this, B2B needs to take a significant leaf out of B2C’s book and start using their consumer-based techniques to better market their businesses.

Below, I’ve outlined three lessons B2B financial services marketing can learn from B2C:

  1. Ditch the transactional and search for the strategy

Very few financial services business brands appear to be successfully embracing an appropriate and robust marketing strategy. Instead, they rely on a very functional and transactionally focused approach – where the agency simply responds to the set project brief in front of them without any long-term strategic approach or wider business insight. There’s not a strategic relationship. Often in B2B the account managers are just project managers, they’re not strategic advisers or partners, who can work in partnership with their client to build a game-changing brand through integrated marketing. This needs to change.

B2B marketing isn’t all about white papers – although there is a role for those in some circumstances – it should be communicating detailed and insightful pieces of research and sharing crucial findings and data – which require more thought through strategies. The strategy lies beneath their content. For example, B2B marketers need to be looking at consumer trends and behaviours in the financial services space, combining qualitative ‘colourful’ research with the more ‘beige’ data and statistics. It is also about presentation and placement. Using smart infographics, emotive imagery and eye-catching video can be a great way of making B2B more engaging. Similarly, being able to dissect and package content for cross-channel promotion will help brands reach new audiences more often.

  1. Be inspirational as a brand

The skills, expertise and knowledge embedded in financial services B2B brands – from technology and data analytics, through to commerce across multiple platforms – is outstanding. Fintech companies are leading the world with their innovation and use of technology. They are changing consumers and businesses’ approaches to finance, entering new markets and altering people’s perceptions and expectations of financial interactions and information. They are redefining how technology is used in this sector to unleash something exciting and appealing – but B2B marketing rarely communicates this innovation and this drive with the inspiration it deserves.

B2B agencies often focus their work on storytelling or humanising B2B. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s not always inspirational. It needs to be about wrapping a compelling promise in an attitude that smashes the status quo – provoking the truth about these progressive brands and ensuring that their inspirational message is nailed across all marketing channels.

  1. Market to the people 

The name alone – B2B – can be this sector’s biggest hindrance. The idea that two personality-free organisations are dealing with each other. Data, research and technology all sound very machine-like. But behind every interaction between one business and another are people – even in a world of corporate finance or fintech – business partnerships come down to people in a room together, talking and interacting on a human level.

B2B marketing isn’t about appealing to a computer, it needs to connect with an individual, someone with thoughts, feelings, emotions and biases, just as in any other form of marketing communications. So why do so many B2B marketers still centre their marketing on sharing facts and figures rather than benefits and insight?

We’ve seen significant progression in the B2C financial services space – investing made easy, digital banking bringing excitement and improved and intuitive user experience to personal finances, as well as the rise in influencer marketing techniques. But, so far, very little movement on the B2B side. Frankly these two world’s have converged so much that it’s now an old fashioned and outdated distinction that simply needs to go!

The three lessons financial services B2B marketing must learn from B2C 4Author Bio:

After a false start at medical school, Michael was a graduate trainee at Ogilvy running Guinness, Ford & Reebok business.

Finding that Canary Wharf wasn’t for him he moved to Saatchi to run Saab, Carlsberg, Federal Express and new business.

Feeling he needed more FMCG experience he moved to Grey to run their global P&G, Mars & GSK accounts, as well as being European Group CMO.

Always entrepreneurial he then built his own top 25 integrated agency, ultimately selling it by reversing it into an AIM listed media plc.

Deciding to focus on a couple of side hustles (Water in a Box & This Girl is on Fire) he then took a few years out of the agency world before returning with a vengeance as International MD of VCCP. After being seduced by private equity to become CEO of Digital Unlimited Group he realised his mistake and moved on to help build & ultimately sell the Feed Agency.

Always believing B2B agencies to be underwhelming, boring and conservative he decided that there was a massive opportunity to build a compelling one so, when Feed sold, he moved to run alan., determined to drive success here and take advantage of this significant market opportunity working across clients such as, Amazon, LSEG, Mastercard, Schroders.

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