It’s not an exaggeration to say that for most financial institutions, there’s room for improvement when it comes to establishing trust. According to an Ipsos MORI study, banking is one of the least trustworthy professions, with only 32 per cent of people saying they trust bankers to tell the truth. To call this verdict unflattering is something of an understatement.
And, unfortunately for banks, Ipsos MORI’s findings are not anomalous. According to a YouGov report published in May 2017, just over half (55 per cent) of UK adults say they trust banks. Now, take a moment to think about the significance of that statistic: nearly half of UK consumers don’t have faith in the institutions that they rely on to take care of their money.
The same YouGov research also assessed UK consumers’ opinions about banks’ motives, and the outcome was even more critical. According to the results, only around a third (36 per cent) trust banks to work in the best interests of the consumer, with more than half (55 per cent) categorically stating that they believe banks only operate to serve their own agendas.
For obvious reasons, this is something banks are seeking to address. Financial institutions are on a mission to be regarded as reliable, honourable and wholly upstanding, and content marketing is viewed by many as an integral part of a solution.
The personal touch
It’s in a bank’s best interests to engage the consumer on a personal level. They want the individual to feel that they’re being listened to, that their needs can be met, and that their money will be looked after. It’s essential for banks to develop a robust bond with consumers that is based on trust, and the best way of doing that is by forming a relationship built on a foundation of respect and honesty.
In order to achieve this, transparency is crucial. Speaking clearly about aims, goals, ambitions and actions is incredibly important, especially in an industry that is traditionally associated with being somewhat cloak and dagger.
Communicating honestly with consumers, addressing issues or relevant topics in a way that is both informative and timely, and making people feel valued, is absolutely fundamental. And, when it comes to speaking directly to consumers about concerns that directly relate to them, NatWest is performing particularly well.
NatWest’s content offering for small businesses
NatWest has masses of experience and knowledge when it comes to understanding what small businesses require to survive, and what hurdles they are likely to come up against both in the short and long-term. Launching and successfully growing a small business can be complex, and many of those building a firm for the first time simply aren’t aware of what they have to do.
NatWest has embraced the concept of giving customers added value across its operations – from chatbots to financial health checks – but its Business Matters section is perhaps the most applicable example. This part of NatWest’s business site is dedicated specifically to offering advice, tips and case studies to assist entrepreneurs as they look to overcome the difficulties associated with being a business owner.
For the last 12 months we at Southerly have been working with NatWest to develop a long-term content marketing strategy that incorporates long-form articles, interviews, case studies and social media output. We have helped to establish Business Matters as a hub for information that truly resonates with the people NatWest wants to reach.
Topics covered range from the basic to the complex, the obvious to the obscure. From how to hire staff to the benefits of using an accountant, the site is a comprehensive business tool. NatWest’s goal is to provide valuable guidance for free in a bid to position itself as a reliable, and altogether trustworthy, provider of financial services and insight.
While the end goal is undoubtedly to encourage small business owners to eventually bank with NatWest, this message is not front and centre. This understated approach works to establish that much-desired bond of trust, because there’s no hard sales pitch. Although visitors to the website will certainly be aware of NatWest’s business banking credentials, the fact that Business Matters doesn’t bombard them with brazen marketing material will only be regarded as a positive.
NatWest clearly trusts enough in its content to let visitors make up their own minds about who they will eventually trust with their finances. The organisation has made the decision to give assistance and play the role of business expert, rather than offer shallow ‘exclusive to new customers’ incentives. It’s a method that is both subtle and effective; it encourages a potential customer to make up their own mind, safe in the knowledge that its content is acting as an influential means of advertising.
With NatWest, businesses matter
Banks want small businesses to succeed. They want customers to continue banking with them for many years to come, and so providing assistance and support wherever possible makes sense. With particular reference to NatWest’s Business Matters site, the organisation has decided to introduce content marketing to give added value, and therefore establish itself as reliable and beneficial.
By discretely showcasing the range of loans, business accounts and additional features that NatWest can offer, the consumer is also able to assess the banking benefits for themselves. The power of the decision is in the hands of the individual, with NatWest trusting that its overall banking package, coupled with its superior content offering, will be enough of an enticement.
Content marketing is a tactic to bank on
Banking institutions still have a long way to go before they can firmly establish themselves as trustworthy. However, if NatWest’s efforts anything to go by, it’s a future that is by no means inconceivable. Banks are starting to utilise content marketing’s power, but they must play the long game; trust is built over time, and so a strategic and enduring approach is required.
Building relationships with consumers is only going to become more vital going forward; with so many different banks available, and with switching providers becoming ever easier, getting the consumer on side – and keeping them there – is crucial. The banking sector is intent on bolstering its reputation, and now is the time for banks to put their money where their mouth is.
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