With 2017 coming to an end, we think it’s the perfect time to look into our crystal ball and share our vision of the top things B2B marketers in the financial and professional services industries should do to optimize their marketing in the year — and years — ahead.

Video as a marketing tool.

Video has been around for a long time. While many financial and professional services firms use it, most don’t do so effectively.

Many companies in these industries — especially fintech and other specialized businesses — offer products and services that are hard to understand and difficult to connect with emotionally. 

Video is the perfect solution for explaining these complex concepts. Think beyond “talking head” style videos and leverage techniques like animation and storytelling that use all the capabilities of this multidimensional medium. For an added layer of communication sophistication, come up with ways to embed videos into other media types, including articles, infographics and sales presentations to make them richer and more informative.

Also, move beyond explaining the processes, features and technology behind your firm’s offerings. Focus instead on benefits and feelings — as in, what will your offering “do” for your end-user (examples: makes doing their job easier; drives dollars to their firm’s bottom line) and how will it make them feel (satisfied knowing they can serve their company better; happy because they’re looking forward to the bonus they could receive from using it).

Added bonus: Millennials are beginning to step into decision-making positions at financial and professional services firms. Research shows they consume information differently than earlier generations, with video being a preferred medium. Don’t expect millennials to change their habits simply because they’re conducting research — or being marketed to — on the job.

Become an expert

Google and other search engines are constantly becoming more complex and sophisticated. The only way to keep up with their evolution is to prove your firm’s expertise in its market space. The best way to do that is to regularly publish and promote leading-edge thought leadership content related to its areas of expertise. 

Remember: “Thought leadership” doesn’t have to mean “lengthy,” “written” or “white paper.” Instead, a genuinely insightful infographic, video or webinar could be more valuable to your client or prospect base.

Added bonus: Top-tier content won’t just improve your search rankings. It will also help build credibility with the prospects your firm is trying to attract and raise the profile of your brand.

Personalize it!

Personalization is “assumed” in the B2C marketing sphere. (For example, if Amazon knows you have a dog, they serve-up dog food ads to you. If you love shoes, you’ll see shoe ads.) People have little — or no — tolerance for marketing that doesn’t specifically relate to them.

The same should be true in the B2B arena. Advertising — whether delivered via digital banner, social media, email and other channels — should be meaningful to the person receiving it. Offers must be targeted to the recipient’s firm, position and individual needs. Making sure your messages speak directly to them will help ensure they respond as you intend.

Added bonus: Personalized marketing may take a little extra time and expense to set up. However, the improved response rates resulting from it will pay off many times over in the end.

Chat-ability

Most B2B companies expect prospects to fill out a form or pick up the phone and call a sales representative to make a contact. People hesitate to do these things because they’re not willing to share business contact information or a call may seem a step too far too early in the process.

B2B firms should consider the compromise solution many B2C marketers have turned to: Online chat. Chat can be automated or live. Automated systems are more responsive and affordable than they used to be. Connecting a live system to members of your sales team is no more cumbersome than expecting them to take phone calls — and providing them with pre-programmed, legal-approved content can help facilitate and optimize the sales process.

Added bonus: Similar to personalized marketing, setting up a chat and response function may take a little time and money, but the increased number of contacts most firms receive after implementing one pay off very quickly.

Connect with an influencer

One of the easiest ways for a B2B firm to build a presence in social media and through content marketing is to develop a relationship with an influencer in its field. This can be a particularly valuable technique to help newer Fintech companies, technology firms and businesses that offer specialized services to stand out.

Start by researching who — or what organizations, publications, think tanks or educational institutions — your prospect base respects. Then contact them to find out whether they’re interested in developing an influencer relationship with your firm. Making this type of contact may seem awkward or daunting, but most individual influencers and organizations are used to receiving these types of requests and are prepared to handle them.

Remember: If you approach an influencer with an offer that is mutually beneficial — something in it for your firm and for them — they’ll be more likely to agree to it.

Tip: Engage with your legal counsel to determine requirements for disclosing information about your influencer relationships.

Added bonus: Building a relationship with an influencer isn’t once-and-done. It will make your firm part of a broader network that may attract additional influencers and notice long into the future.

Upgrade your sales and marketing system

Most firms have some sort of automated sales and marketing system. However, when was the last time your company shopped around for a new one?

These systems have become far more advanced, sophisticated and integrated in the last year or two. Most will make it much easier to implement the marketing tactics and strategies outlined in this article. They’ll also help more fully integrate your sales and marketing teams and processes into a more coherent unit.

Added bonus: While a new system will likely require an initial investment in time and money, its ability to streamline your firm’s sales and marketing functions, coupled with an increase in the number of contacts and sales, will pay off that investment quickly.

Looking for support taking your marketing to the next level in 2017 and beyond? Carpenter Group can help. We’ll offer you fresh perspectives on new strategies you can integrate into your marketing plan.