NEW YORK: Many brands in the financial services category are failing to focus on customer insights, according to a leading executive from Lincoln Financial Group.

Jamie DePeau, the firm's corporate chief marketing officer, discussed this theme at the 2014 Chief Marketing Officer Leadership Forum: Spotlight on Financial Services, an event run by the Argyle Executive Forum.

"People still aren't talking to customers," she said. (For more, including how Lincoln has pursued customer-centricity, read Warc's exclusive report: Lincoln Financial Group learns to put consumer insights first.)

"You have to talk to customers, and you have to talk with them frequently. It's not just 'disaster checks' before you go into the marketplace; you have to get that knowledge up front. Companies still don't do it."

As a result, marketers often roll out campaigns "without really understanding the marketplace" - and this means that, "nine times out of ten", they end up "saying the wrong thing".

One reason for this trend, DePeau suggested, is the long-standing emphasis that firms have put on their products.

"Historically, the industry has pushed messages out into the marketplace that are company-centric, product-centric, forgetting all about the customer. And a lot of people are still doing it that way," said DePeau.

The influence of product managers is one factor that has encouraged marketers to emphasise features and list facts in their messaging, rather than taking a more nuanced approach.

"I think that's part of the influence of product development and where marketing has historically sat in financial services," said DePeau.

Relying on old models, however, is an increasingly unwise strategy at a time when digital media is transforming patterns of customer behaviour.

"Your whole sales funnel is turned upside down," DePeau said. "And that has a huge impact on everything that we do, from channels to messaging."

Data sourced from Warc