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Thursday, 28 June 2007

Creativity in financial services

James 25.06.07

Financial advertising - conventionally not thought of as the field in which creativity thrives. But why shouldn’t financial services advertising be creative? Indeed, why shouldn’t the sector as a whole be held up as a leader in creativity, of innovation and design.

Yes, when it comes to how advisers or consumers think of brands in banking, insurance or investment we want solid and reliable and trustworthy, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be creative as well.

When flipping through the pages of Investment, the FT and The Economist, it seems obvious that, in this country at least, products, services and brands are sold rationally. Give them facts and figures and they’ll work it out for themselves. But in the US and even South Africa, emotion is what sells. Whether to brokers or to consumers the relationship, the feelings of a communication are as important as the figures or the offer.

Possibly as regulation in the UK Financial arena has taken a greater hold, there is a fear of pushing creativity. An ogre sneaks in and right at the beginning of a brainstorm and says “We’ll never get away with that, so let’s just do….” Just…a word that is the antithesis of creativity.

But regardless of the audience, the product, the arena or the potential restrictions, creativity, originality and engagement should be foremost in a creative agencies mind. When conceptualising, critiquing or assessing creative work, its important to remind oneself it is just that…creative.

Monday, 18 June 2007

PW – 26.04.07

In a recent conversation with one of the media agencies we work alongside we talked about the increasing cost of running search marketing and how, for some clients, the increase in their average cost per click was starting to hurt.

Equally on a lot of the IFA facing web sites we deal with availability (and therefore price) is becoming an issue.

This is leading us more and more to work with clients not just on the traffic generating aspect of their marketing but on improving conversion rates once a user arrives at a site. The value of analytics (telling you what people do o your site) and usability (why they do the things they do) comes in improved conversion rates. A small increase in conversion rates massively outweighs a small decrease in CPC or CPM for banners.

Perhaps, because usability and analytics often sit outside the marketing function they are not considered as often as they should be. However I’ll keep banging the drum for them with our clients and would encourage you (whoever you may be) to do the same.

Welcome to our new blog

Blogging has created a lot of hype. Everyone seems to be up to it, from political parties to aspiring novelists. But is it all hype or helping?

Research from interviews with corporate bloggers has shown that corporate blogs are giving established and new brands alike the ability to connect with their audiences, build trust and community goodwill and get valuable feedback. And that’s important because we strongly believe that brands can be built (and destroyed) from the bottom up. It also helps on a more practical level with search engine optimization (they are easy to read for search engines), to create relevant link popularity and so drive more site traffic. It’s also good for PR coverage.

Yet of 34 financial services brands we surveyed, only 15% had a current, open blog. Some are using blogs in the b2b arena, such as Steve Bee’s blog on pensions which is much admired across the industry but these are the few exceptions. This seems a missed opportunity, especially for more of the approachable, direct to consumer brands on the market – why not a blog from the Halifax personalities such as Howard for example?

There are obvious reasons for us investing the time and money in doing our own blog. But we were clear that our blog could not just be corporate spin and just a regurgitation of our press releases. So what is our blogging strategy?

For those of you who know us, we have a strong team who are very engaged in marketing financial services and the power of integrated communications. So the blogs that will follow from this one, will show Teamspirit in action – views and thoughts from our team. And do let us know what you think. That’s one of the most important aspects of why we are doing this. Look forward to hearing from you.

Jo Parker
Managing Director