How financial services comms can be part of the COVID-19 solution

By Kirsty Maxey on Tuesday, 7 July 2020

Covid-19 has changed life as we know it. The virus and its tragic human impact has resulted in unparalleled government intervention, social isolation measures, record unemployment - and the biggest fiscal stimulus ever launched.

Globally financial firms have had to step up and support the needs of their customers, be it with mortgage holidays, extended overdrafts, emergency small business loans, or simply a friendly voice at the other end of the phone.

As we slowly start to emerge from the lockdown and the overarching messaging of ‘all being in it together’, the narrative must adapt to what’s next. So, alongside structurally fuelling the recovery, financial services brands must keep pace with a new narrative which is changing faster than ever before.

Throughout a crisis, communication is not only crucial for brands in maintaining contact with customers but can be transformative. It is vital for cementing and transforming the most important relationships – from employees, to customers, suppliers, creditors, investors and the wider community.

During the coronavirus crisis the focus of FS brands has, rightly, turned to the needs of the customer with a move to humanise content. This is no flash in the pan and will continue for years to come. Coronavirus will define the views, thoughts and feelings of generations. People need appropriate information and guidance but also entertainment and inspiration. The financial services industry needs to ensure it keeps pace with consumer need and pitches its communications effectively.

This is why it’s so important that marketing isn’t one of the first things to be culled, especially when your competitors might be doing just that. Businesses that continue to maintain share of voice and share of market are proven to see rises in profitability that outweigh short-term savings.

With this in mind, here are the key things financial services brands should consider when adapting their communications strategy in the current climate:

1. Customer – first and foremost

Understand how your customer is redefining value - and respond. What are their needs now? How can you meet them? What channels are most efficient in reaching them? Online video, broadcast and TV streaming take the top spots overall for increased media consumption, proving popular across all generations. Millennials are driving the increased usage of radio, podcasts and audio streaming? How can you update your strategy to meet this?

2. Consistency

History shows that maintaining spend can improve market share, whether competitors are cutting back or not, and customers will value the reassurance of recognising known brands. Brands which advertised during the 2008 financial crash saw an 9x faster recovery in their stock market valuei and people haven’t forgotten this.

And, research shows that 78% of people believe that brands should help them in their daily lives, highlighting your consumers, employers, stakeholders, want to keep hearing from you.

3. Cost

Customers will be cost conscious and keen to get the best deal. The key is to remain competitive and reward loyalty.

4. Core values

Highlight what you stand for as a business to both employees and loyal customers and how these values translate into the current context.

As we emerge from this crisis, not only do financial services have a structural opportunity to be the engine of recovery, helping businesses and customers to emerge resilient, they have a greater opportunity, through adept communication, to transform both people’s lives and our world for the better.

This article originally appeared in PRWeek, on 3rd July 2020. Reproduced with their permission.