How to take strategic risks
February 11, 2020
In the financial services industry, we’ve been conditioned to eye risk warily. Keeping risk at bay may be considered safe, but sometimes there is an opportunity cost to staying on the straight and narrow all the time. If we never try anything new, our brands run the risk of growing stale, and customers will notice.
The point is not to revamp an entire marketing and communications strategy just to try something new. It’s about taking calculated risks with your financial services brand to keep your target audiences tuned in and engaged. Here are four steps to get started:
- Evaluate your data. Consider who your audience is and whether you’re reaching your intended targets. Existing clients may be getting your messages, but what about potential customers? If millennials are the key to growth and success for your financial institution, do some research on this group and its many subsets. Consider how and where they access information, by whom they are influenced and what they may value, such as relationships, experiences, security, etc. Once you have a more comprehensive understanding of who your audiences are and what motivates them, you’ll have a better idea of where and how to engage them.
- Conduct due diligence. A new year is a great time to try something new, but that doesn’t mean you need to leap without looking. If you’re venturing into unfamiliar territory for your financial brand, be sure to consider the risks associated with any new elements you introduce.
For instance, if you’ll be experimenting with an influencer campaign for the first time to promote your brand and tell its story, consider more than follower numbers when selecting an influencer. Get to know your potential partner by reviewing how they’ve been aligning themselves, through comments, stories and images they have posted, for example, or through the brands and causes they have championed.
Doing your due diligence is just one way to manage the risk involved in a new initiative. In the case of an influencer campaign, once you create that partnership, there’s a straight line from the influencer to your brand and your customers’ expectations. If there is a big disparity in values or simply a lack of relevancy, you risk losing more than a portion of your marketing budget.
- Remove barriers to success. If you’re doing your research and due diligence, be ready to put your knowledge to use by removing barriers that may hinder the desired outcome. For example, if you’ve been planning a huge launch campaign for a game-changing digital banking app only to learn it will coincide with Apple’s latest product release, you might adjust your timing to avoid being overshadowed. Or, if you find that a new influencer partner does not exemplify what your brand represents, it may be best to cut your losses and take the time to find a new partner who is better aligned with your brand promise.
Be willing to act on the information you unearth, as taking no action and ignoring red flags could thwart success.
- Test and refine. Testing is a staple in many industries, whether for new products or advertising campaigns, to see how smaller groups respond before approaching a wider audience. Marketing and communications professionals traditionally have lacked the time and resources to test campaigns and messaging. However, given the prevalence of social media and online campaigns, that situation is changing.
Before taking a campaign to a broad market, consider doing a smaller push to see how audiences react and engage with your content. Such an approach can allow you to see what is working and what needs adjustment. If engagement is an issue, the message may need to be refined or the platform reconsidered. You might find that a campaign is missing its target audience altogether if there was insufficient research to ensure relevance. Testing should allow you to hone your approach and ultimately make the best use of the resources behind your campaign.
Go for it. If you trust your process, research and results, then only one thing remains: taking the leap. But if taking even a calculated risk with your financial services brand is still intimidating, specialists in the field can provide guidance.
If you’re interested in learning about other ways to make impactful changes in 2020, check out my top six financial marketing resolutions.