In today's world, consumers:

  • Respond to easy-to-understand concepts
  • Connect with basic human emotions
  • React to simple images.

But what if you market a product or service that:

  • Your consumer base doesn't know they need and is difficult to explain
  • No one has an emotional attachment to
  • Can't be photographed?

That's a common problem for many financial marketers. After all, how many people want to engage with:

  • The fine print of a life insurance policy
  • A picture of an online trading platform
  • An offer to save for a retirement that could be 40 years or more in the future
  • Charts and graphs related to a mutual fund or ETF?

So how can your marketing break through when no cares about your financial solution and it's difficult to get anyone interested in it? 

Take heart. As we've all heard many times: Necessity is the mother of invention. And in this case, it's true! This situation you face gives you a blank slate that let's you be more creative about how you market your product.

Here are three simple steps you can take that will help you create innovative marketing campaigns that will get your consumer base to take notice, engage with and purchase your financial product or service.

Step 1. Translate features into benefits. Most people who develop financial products work diligently to create features that respond to their customer's needs. However, most people -- whether brokers, agents, bankers or everyday investors and customers -- don't buy product features, they buy benefits.

For example:

  • Customers don't buy the fine print of a life insurance policy and it's riders, they purchase a dependable way to care for their families after they pass away.
  • Trading firms don't buy the back-end systems of a trading platform, they purchase better and faster ways for their brokers to make trades.
  • Pre-retirees don't buy the features of an IRA, they invest in a solution to help them plan for retirement.
  • Brokers don't sell -- and investors don't buy -- the detailed prospectus-level information that comes with a mutual fund or ETF. Instead, they sell -- and buy -- benefits like simpler portfolio diversification, lower investment costs and the relative ease of trading their shares.

When it comes to marketing your financial product or service -- no matter how esoteric or complex -- you need to work with the product development team to understand why they developed certain features. That "why" will get you to the benefit you can sell to your consumer base. It's the thing that will connect them to your financial solution.

Step 2. Convert benefits into emotions. We've shown how product features can be translated to benefits that are compelling to customers. The next step is to convert those benefits into emotions. After all, even the most hard-core product person develops their product's features to put smiles on the faces of their end-users.

Here are some of the emotions that could applied to the product examples in step one:

  • The life insurance customer feels peace-of-mind.
  • The trading platform user feels confidence.
  • Pre-retirees investing in an IRA feel a sense of security.
  • Mutual fund and ETF buyers feel smart and savvy.

You'll engage more of your customers by describing how they'll feel when they purchase or use your product or service. Today's consumer -- from the most sophisticated broker to the simplest investor -- is more likely to respond to emotion than complex, technical messaging. An interesting article in Psychology Today explains that -- depending on the medium -- emotion in brand advertising can have two to three times the impact as rational content.

This is a novel approach for many financial services firms, but it's the wave of the future -- and it's how retail, real estate and other business segments make powerful connections with their consumers. And as Millennials become a larger part of the of the target market for financial products, feelings will become a more important factor in how the industry must market to them. 

Step 3. Apply a vivid image to reflect the emotion. In today's social media driven marketing universe, bold and vivid images perform better than the more typical financial services images of computer screens, sales meetings, financial documents or paperwork.

So why not use images that truly evoke and express the emotions that reflect the feelings associated with the benefits of your products or services? Wouldn't you prefer to see a photo of a:

  • Parent feeling peace of mind because he or she purchased life insurance to protect his or her family, rather than a picture of the policy?
  • Broker feeling confident knowing he or she has a trading platform that can help them take better care of their investment clients, rather than an image of a computer screen?
  • Retirees feeling secure enjoying their retirement, rather than an image of them shaking hands with their broker?
  • Investors showing that they know they're smart and savvy because they made a wise investment choice, rather than a group of fund managers around a conference table?

Need a dose of inspiration? Check out this vivid and evocative campaign Carpenter created for SEI. It could get you thinking about things you could do to make your advertising more emotionally impactful. 

And a dose of reality... We understand that charts, graphs, tables and other financial reporting devices are a necessary part of financial marketing. Why not come up with creative ways to have these things tell a compelling story?

Learn a lesson from the industries that are leading the way in today's marketing universe and do the hard work of interpreting product features into benefits into emotions into images that resonate with consumers at every level today? 

Not sure how to get started? Contact an agency that's been leading the way in financial marketing for more than 35 years? We'll work with you to fill that blank canvas and find smart and innovative ways to turn those dull financial products into emotional messages and images that will resonate with today's consumer.

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