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In professional and financial services, as well as other knowledge-intensive sectors, clients care more about the expertise and abilities of those who serve them than they do about the brand identity of the firm. Yet many firms continue to put resources behind generic marketing and branding that fails to utilise perhaps their greatest asset, which is content, insights and ideas emerging from their own people.
In other sectors, where marketing ‘reach’ is the priority, firms focus most of their effort on building large, general-purpose audiences on social media, but in professional and financial services, there is more to gain from smaller, more focused presences that connect clients and potential clients with thoughtful content that is relevant to their needs.
It may not be the sexiest social media presence on the internet, but Allen & Overy’s pensions blog is a good example of this. Small, focused and meeting the needs of a specific client group.
But why is this not a standard part of the way firms work? Why is each practice area, each asset management group or each consulting sector team (for example) not showcasing the depth of their knowledge and expertise to attract new clients?
With so much reading and analysis going on anyway inside professional and financial services firms, the raw material for a successful thought leadership marketing operation are already in place (and paid for!). If the firm can engage their internal experts and support them in developing relationships with external readers, then the first step is in place. Second, instead of the old-fashioned publishing operations that used to drive the release of white papers and formal publications, firms need to be quicker and more agile in managing a pipeline of draft pieces that could become blog posts or other forms of online content such as videos, podcasts or longer articles. Partly this relies on good internal knowledge and collaboration systems, but it is largely a proces challenge that is relatively easy to solve. Finally, firms need good outlets for specialised content, perhaps with a more relaxed tone of voice that recognises they are talking to their peers.
In financial services especially, the pace of change is increasing and more firms are moving towards direct-to-consumer models or their channels are becoming more competitive, which measn they need to demonstrate their differentiation much more clearly thsn before. Showcasing internal experts, research and analysis seems to be the most powerful way to do this, so we expect to see more and more firms in this area driving their own digital identity through thought leadership.
We have worked with Digital Identity expert Abhay Adhikari to put together a practical one-day workshop in London on June 9 for marketers and knowledge mangers who want to use employee-driven digital identity to improve their external brand and to connect it more authentically to the work of the firm.
Click here for details of our upcoming workshop in London on June 9th.
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