Financial Brand Journalism: Think about facilitating personal interactions, not about creating messages

In this post you will learn about the latest trends and strategies in Marketing and Brand Management. These include brand journalism, inbound marketing and the “personalization tsunami”.

I will also share a recent case, which demonstrates how marketer’s can make this work in practice.


Global Efficiency that leads to Irrelevance is Irrelevant: Marketing gets Personal

Is your marketing strategy based on getting up close and personal with your audience? For most organisations, the answer is “probably not yet.”

The past five years have seen corporate marketing embrace the strategy of reducing marketing costs and by devising a single global campaign that can be adapted to local needs often diluting its effectiveness in the process. But times have changed. Thanks to social media, consumer expectations are rapidly evolving. People no longer want a single message from a single source. Instead, they want a cascade of valuable, relevant and engaging content – articles, blog posts, live events, videos and social media – that they can respond to and share.


“Think global, act local” does not longer work. Personalisation is the New Marketing Tsunami

So how can marketers make the personalised approach work? The secret lies in harnessing the power of local teams and prioritising regional engagement over central control.

I’ve been lucky enough to learn about this from the best marketing professional – and the pioneer of brand journalism – Larry Light. Larry is the force behind McDonald’s successful “I’m loving it” campaign.

Marketing Tsunami

In 2004, Larry as McDonald’s chief marketing officer said that mass marketing no longer worked and that “no single ad tells the whole story”. McDonald’s, he said, had adopted a new marketing technique: “brand journalism”.

Larry defined brand journalism as a way to record “what happens to a brand in the world”, and create multi-channel, multi-faceted and multi-layered ad communications that, over time, can tell a whole story of a brand.

Larry Light recently shared some new sharp and timely thoughts in an article published by Forbes. Crucially, he points out that as the world has become more connected, the need for personalised marketing has become more pronounced. And his recommendation for a successful brand is strongly based on regional empowerment: “We advocate a three-way process. First, collaboratively with the region we define the Brand Ambition, the inspiring platform of where we believe the brand can and should be at a given point in the future. It should be very aspirational. Second, we establish the Brand Framework, the agreed boundaries that define the brand’s common customer experience everywhere. And then, we focus on results through regional implementation within the global Framework.”


Relinquishing Global Brand Power Reaps Profitable Rewards

Essentially, central marketing teams need to take their cues from successful digital organisations such as Wikipedia by establishing a framework and relinquishing responsibility for thought leadership and by giving more autonomy to regional and local marketers. Handing over responsibility for generating creative ideas and measurable results to local teams makes it easier to ensure their unique market knowledge and local expertise are used to maximum effect.

While taking this approach means breaking down the CMO’s total control, it doesn’t mean there’s no place for a central marketing strategy. Instead, the CMO becomes a figure, with central marketing needs to focus on defining global and regional frameworks that will allow local marketers to create and innovate freely without breaching global marketing standards.


The value of personalised financial marketing

Financial institutions have more reason than most to take a more personal approach. Over the past few years, social media has revolutionised the way that traders access trading insights. Many traders use it to access real time information that allows them to outperform the market in a rapidly changing digital economy, and to corroborate stories they’ve found online.


Traders often use social media to establish themselves as credible sources in their own right, but the ability to interact and debate with other sources is crucial.

Financial institutions have a unique opportunity to participate in this interaction, but doing so means getting past the fear that social media channels often engender and getting to grips with sharing.

Fortunately, a number of leading financial institutions are successfully blazing a trail for others to follow.


#FXDebates – facilitating a sophisticated exchange of trading insights

For example, Saxo Capital Markets UK’s #FXDebates campaign brought together a range of different marketing, advertising, and PR strategies with the aim of getting closer to our clients and building brand depth. The result was a powerful inbound marketing campaign tailored specifically to the requirements of high-volume FX traders in the UK market.

Delivered in partnership with Bloomberg and TradingFloor (Saxo Bank’s online trading community), #FXdebates drew together a variety of online and offline content, including television adverts, press releases, infographics, campaign-based landing pages, an ebook and two high-profile events at the British Museum and at the Bloomberg offices in collaboration with CityAM. This allowed each audience member to engage with the campaign in the way that best suited them and create their own personal experience of the Saxo brand.

The accompanying social media campaign played a vital role, allowing us at Saxo to engage our target audience and clients in open discussion with leading forex trading experts to gain a better understanding how currencies and the financial markets impact our world.


Financial Brand Journalism: Think about facilitating personal interactions, not about creating messages

The biggest change financial marketers need to make is to start thinking less about delivering a message and more about facilitating interactions. Few people enjoy one-way conversations, which is why the key to a successful PR or marketing campaign is about ensuring information can be shared, and responded to rather than simply cascaded down from a single source.

Financial Brand JournalismFor financial institutions, that means empowering trading experts to demonstrate their expertise and share insights by interacting publicly with a wider audience, through a variety of press and social media channels. We have known for a long time at Saxo Bank that our best clients come from direct referrals and word of mouth. By facilitating interactions via sophisticated debates we have been able to join conversations online among groups of high net worth individuals, who have embraced our debates. Furthermore, by engaging our audience and clients into a sophisticated discussion we have started a dialogue, which has amplified the word of mouth about our brand and platform.

The personalization tsunami will not stop but rather take more force. As long as you have a strong offering and the relevant brand guidelines are in place for your experts to follow, personalisation through brand journalism and inbound marketing will be the most powerful tools you ever use.

Talk soon,


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UrielFinancial Brand Journalism: Think about facilitating personal interactions, not about creating messages

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