Since the global recession in the mid-00s, marketing effectiveness has declined to a greater extent in the financial services category than any other – largely because it has prioritised performance marketing, according to Les Binet.

“Over the last few years since the financial crisis, while the potential effectiveness of marketing has increased, the actual results of marketing campaigns have got smaller,” the effectiveness specialist told a recent Thinkbox event on effective financial services marketing.

“There’s one category that has really screwed things up more than any other: financial services, the biggest loss of effectiveness of any category,” he said. (For more, read WARC’s report: Binet: long-term brand building beats activation in financial services.)

A switch to short-term strategies has seen financial services put greater emphasis on loyalty strategies, and while this might seem a superficially attractive option, it is in fact completely wrong in Binet’s estimation.

“Loyalty strategies underperform in financial services even more than in other categories,” he stated. “Loyalty is important but it’s a secondary consideration, even in finance.”

Instead, financial brands should aim for reach and awareness – 91% of effectiveness is due to reach, he said – in order to be top of mind when the time to purchase comes.

That’s essential because the real challenge for financial brands is that they can’t get cut-through – most people simply don’t think about finance products until they need to.

“We love to overcomplicate things, but actually, the main reason people don’t buy brands is not that they’ve considered them and rejected them,” he pointed out. “It’s that those brands never enter the consideration set at all.”

But when a brand does come to mind, someone is much more likely to choose it. “You’ve got to do things that people will remember six months on,” Binet said.

“Finance is a unique combination of being boring, complex and stressful. It’s very hard to get people to think about finance,” he explained.

“Finance is possibly the very worst category for getting people to pay attention to messages. They are actively screening you out.”

Sourced from WARC