We hosted another event in our Breakfast & Brainfood series this morning, looking at how we can create content with impact in financial services. Chairing the discussion amongst Clare Allen, EMEA Content Director at the Financial Times, Catherine Maskell, Managing Director of the Content Marketing Association, and Simon Hodge, Audience Communication Director at Morningstar, enabled me to bring up the kinds of questions and topics that as a team we debate endlessly. Discussion today explored themes around what makes good content, measurement, keeping audiences front of mind at all times, and creativity in financial services.

Consensus in the room confirmed that having an audience-first approach is fundamental to good content; regardless of what a brand wants to say, all content must deliver genuine value and be interesting to the end audience. Covering something some might perceive as ‘boring’ is ok too, if it appeals and helps your audience.

Businesses spend huge amounts of time and resources creating and distributing content, so understanding its success is key.

Our panelists talked about objective setting and the importance of remembering to innovate; it’s easy to keep the same measurements once a robust method is in place, but this can stifle innovation and deter us from doing things differently. Having a different perspective of what success is, pivots the metrics that are needed.

Applying creativity to financial services content was acknowledged as a challenge across the industry, but one that passionate communicators are always working hard to move the dial on. The key driver for creativity is bravery – as the panelists said, you can be more creative and forceful if you’re ok with the fact that it may have a short term impact on the bottom line. When integrity sits at the heart of the content and its creativity, it works and stays true to brand.

Questions from the floor challenged our panelists for their advice for the next decade; they warned against underestimating the strength of integrity and reiterated the importance of focusing on the long term rather than being reactive and jumping on thematic bandwagons while being mindful that things will change. As Bill Gates famously said, “We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next five or ten.”

Closing remarks from the panelists reminded us of the importance of story-doing as well as story-telling. We should always be sense-checking whether the themes and topics we’re exploring resonate with the values which sit at the heart of the business. If they don’t come from an authentic place, content simply won’t stick, and while it may drive awareness, it won’t go the full length of the marketing funnel down through to consideration, conversion, loyalty, and advocacy. When we’re working with our clients to develop content strategies, we always ask ourselves what their purpose is and how far we can stretch it before we turn people off.  After all, content isn’t just for Christmas, it can be a powerful marketing tool if it’s executed properly, authentically and with longevity.

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