Alicia Clegg’s piece on financial services communications (MW January 20) doesn’t cut to the chase. Financial services marketing is not an island. The basic disciplines of marketing in financial services are the same as in any other industry: start where the consumer is, and communicate the benefits of the product or service. “Focusing advertising on the emotional goods” or “communicating in a more engaging way” aren’t new ideas, they’re some of the foundations of marketing regardless of sector. I agree with Abi Bray’s opinion that the financial services sector is insular, but that doesn’t make it unique. In fact, most industries have a specific vernacular and instinct – it’s simply that, until recently, financial services has proven itself worse than most at translating this in-depth product knowledge into compelling, benefit-led communications.
Financial services marketing has been below par for so long because the industry skews its spend towards advertising, while significantly underweighting its spend on consumer understanding. While high-profile marketing appointments at many financial services companies (Barclays, NatWest, Abbey) over the past several years indicate that the industry is realising that good talent will produce good marketing, it will take some time for this to become the industry standard.