The Channel Marketing Protagonists in COVID-19

By Teamspirit on Thursday, 7 May 2020

In the midst of COVID-19, what should Financial Services brands be investing in right now, specifically which channels to use and messages to communicate?

This morning, with The Financial Services Forum (FSF), we hosted a webinar to discuss just that and how we believe this crisis needs the Financial Services sector to play a vital, supportive and leading role to help the world work towards a ‘new normal’.

The panellists were: Kirsty Maxey, CEO, Crispin Heath, Head of Digital, James Maxwell, Executive Creative Director and Zoe Miranda, Head of Social, and Chaired by Fiona Couper, Group Head of Business Development and Marketing.


With TV viewing up 32% as ad revenues crash (ITV by 42% in April), and a 50% surge across social platforms including Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp we began by asking if all media budget should be shifted into digital and social channels at this time. The panel felt that the move to online media had accelerated and in particular to PPC but what was missing in lockdown are some of the opportunities by media better used at the top of the funnel. The focus should be on creating disruption, thumb stopping type opportunities in social and more pre-roll on YouTube.

None of the panel felt all media should shift to purely digital or social unless you have a clear reason why and that’s likely to be purely tactical. Knee jerk reactions should be avoided, instead really look at where your audiences are spending their time. Then consider a test and learn approach: see if your communications are effective if you’re choosing to upweight your budget to these channels; explore test content on platforms that are new to you. The beauty of social means you can be agile and review at speed. The marketplace is also more forgiving at the moment so that’s a good opportunity to trial.

The panel also pointed out that it really does depend on who you are targeting. With more people sitting at home watching TV and listening to the radio than ever, and the cost of buying spots on those channels at an all-time low, you can spend your budget really wisely and get a higher Share of Voice, which ultimately leads to a higher share of the market, which means you’ll recover after lockdown more quickly.

There was also a shout out for PR to gain traction for reputation building as well as looking at a local paper strategy to support local offices and services – DM too could be really fruitful in the current climate.

During the event our live polls gave a real time indication of how Financial Services marketers are responding. The listeners confirmed that nearly half had reduced their spend by up to 25%, although 15% had actually increased their spend.

In terms of the right messaging the panel talked about how mid-April research from Opinium has shown that 19% of consumers would like to hear more from financial services brands at this time but unlike other sectors over the weeks, Financial Services has not improved their perceived response, in fact it is going backwards!

What was required however was reassurance and empathy, authoritative and useful information and inspiration! Not everything has to relate to the crisis, you can be entertaining and supportive, promoting new viewpoints and ideas to help inspire action. All agreed that the early weeks of lockdown and crisis comms had now passed and many are now looking towards more distraction type activities.

This interim phase, or temporary normal could be with us for some time. Creative has to be nimble, it has to be reflective of the mood of the nation which is constantly changeable. For Crispin the best summation he’d heard of our current situation was by the author Damian Barr who said:

"I keep hearing that we’re all in the same boat and we’re not in the same boat we’re all in the same storm but in very different vessels".

So take into account people’s new normal. Reflect people’s current lives – do reflect human truth. Show employees, show stories, show humanity! Look at ways of bringing joy and supporting customers emotional needs, especially as they are forced to stay at home. It is still a good time to provide practical help to people who are suffering financial stress, for companies to hone their digital channels, and to help customers who are new to these channels use them more effectively with tutorials etc.

Discussion included the exponential growth in webinars and podcasts, platforms that can help make us feel connected – with 63% of the listeners reporting an increase in number of podcasts and webinars being held. Top tips for hosting a good one centred on a relevant topic, panellists who provide different perspectives as well as good housekeeping such as audio quality, practice, strength of moderator and audience participation – funnily enough running polls to get people actively involved. Keeping it conversational was also vital to increased engagement.

Questions included was there a recommended percentage budget split across the digital channels? To which the short answer was no!

Always ask yourself ‘What is the one thing I want them to know’. People across social channels tend to choose one interaction with a piece of content. Work out where in the funnel you are trying to target – is it purely awareness or data capture/lead gen.

Think outside the box. Everyone consumers social across different channels, at different times of day. Just because you’re trying to reach a B2B audience, doesn’t always mean you need to invest all your budget into LinkedIn. We’re constantly having conversations with clients about the merits of Facebook for a B2B audience. As always, budget split is entirely dependent on the objectives of the campaign and the audience that you have at hand.

Be willing to test - for relatively small expenditure testing can be achieved very effectively. But the key remains looking at an integrated strategy, utilising all your owned, earned and paid for channels. We can see that a properly integrated campaign can increase results by up-to three times.

It was interesting to see that our 66% of our listeners had increased their digital spend and that 11% had increased their usage of radio.

Thanks to all those who listened in and if you missed it you can listen here.

As mentioned we see the crisis as the fs sectors opportunity to shine and to help create a stronger Financial Services sector - more on which can be found in our COVID-19 Whitepaper ‘Building a better financial services sector.’

If you have any questions, don't hestiate to get in touch

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