The CFA Financial Marketing Report
reveals that brand differentiation is the number one marketing challenge facing
commercial finance firms today.
An industry study conducted by the CFA in conjunction with
Financial Marketing, a marketing agency with a long track history in the ABL
sector, paints a fascinating picture of the current marketing challenges that
CFA members are encountering, the key tactics they are employing today and the hottest
trends that they believe will drive future success.
The necessity to stand out from the crowd was highlighted
as a critical issue by more than three-quarters (77%) of respondents,
comprising leaders of asset-based lending firms in the US and European markets,
sponsors and advisors. Despite this, only half of the respondents said that they
had succeeded in improving brand awareness over the last year.
The next key challenges facing the industry are ‘acquiring
new customers’, ‘having a strategic marketing focus’ and ‘new product
also indicate that 77% of those surveyed feel that the main obstacle to their
organisation’s growth is countering the competition, with differentiation
obviously playing a significant factor. Firms also cited low price unmonitored
finance, regulation and credit committee appetite as distinctly limiting
opportunities for expansion.
75% of CFA
members were of the view that they had achieved the previous year’s objectives
in terms of improving engagement and building customer relationships. 67% had
seen an increase in sales and profits and 58% reported an increase in leads
generated and conversion.
are constants in terms of key strategic objectives for all lenders, branding
and customer acquisition are clearly top of mind for a significant proportion
of those surveyed right now and so it is not surprising that the most important
marketing imperatives are to
· Boost brand awareness
· Maintain thought leadership
· Drive sales leads, Improve conversion /
· And deliver seamless product provision
leadership featuring so highly as part of the wider communications mix, it is
important to note that the top two content marketing challenges were considered
to be ‘producing engaging content’ and ‘measuring content effectiveness.
‘Producing a variety of content’ and ‘ensuring that this is produced
consistently’ were also considered to be important.
will be increasing its investment in marketing. 73% of respondents said that
their budgets were likely to increase, with only 27% saying they would remain
the same. However, surprisingly in an increasingly metrics and ROI-evidenced environment,
58% of those surveyed disclosed that they had invested less than 10% of their
budgets towards online marketing initiatives.
mean to say that digital marketing is not in evidence. Today, email marketing stands
out as the top distribution channel being employed by 64% of participants. Traditional media relations and print followed
closely behind and website content, tradeshows and events and social media
marketing again featured strongly.
marketing activities to agencies because they consider them to be a cost
efficient resource and they deliver value through a combination of industry
knowledge and creative thinking. Evidently, understanding of the industry was a
key criteria for selecting an external marketing partner as 71% have elected to
use a specialist financial agency, as opposed to a generalist firm.
targeted are wide-ranging with UK and US leading the field followed by Germany,
Holland, Austria, Canada. France and Eastern Europe. New jurisdictions being
targeted include Africa, Asia, Australia, Eastern Europe Holland and Germany.
event-driven activity funded by respondents was acquisitions, cited by 45% of
respondents, followed by growth, refinance for greater headroom and then
Financial Marketing’s Reflections
Porter warns us that “We need to start moving into the next phase, which is one
of strategy, the phase in which individual banks make choices about how they
are going to be distinctive, how they’re going to be unique, how they’re going
to set themselves apart.”
strides are clearly being made in terms of customer acquisition. However,
differentiating on brand is now a key strategic priority for commercial finance
organisations, but they are struggling to achieve it on their own.
through, commercial finance businesses also need to have a leader’s voice, not
a vanilla voice covering the topics of the everyday.
marketing strategy to be successful, an integrated approach to thought
leadership and content development is critical:
• Coherence – are different
communications logically connected?
• Consistency – are multiple messages
supported and reinforced, rather than contradictory?
• Continuity – are communications
connected and consistent through time?
• Complementary – is the sum of the parts
greater than the whole?”
through the advertisements of financial organisations in trade magazines it is
notable that many commercial finance firms are claiming exactly the same
attributes as unique selling propositions within their respective journals.
differentiates us is our people, service, flexibility and innovation. Peppering
journals, brochures and web sites seems to us to be having the opposite effect
to what these companies intended.
it follows that the greater the organisational focus on these commonly held
attribute areas, the more similar these companies must appear in the eyes of
their potential customers.
To achieve long-term success in today’s customer-driven marketplace, you first
need to differentiate your differentiation strategy.
About Financial Marketing
Financial Marketing is a specialist, full-service marketing, branding
and design agency with one simple mission to help financial brands shine
brighter than ever before.
The agency’s services span brand strategy and consulting, design and
digital, direct-mail, social, mobile, print and much more. Their approach is
truly integrated, channel neutral, award-winning and proven.
Financial Marketing supports some of the world’s leading institutions
and comes to the table with all of the senior client and big agency experience
that clients need.
As financial specialists, the team hits the ground running to create
and build clients’ sustainable competitive advantage.
Every marketing discipline is covered, giving them the ability to deliver
everything from ring-fenced projects to fully integrated, multi-disciplinary
campaigns that will light up clients’ markets.
Their people have decades of experience as directors and creative
talents in major financial organisations and agencies. Which means they have
the expertise, deep branding knowledge and commercial acumen that will add
value from strategic concepts through to creative delivery.
Financial Marketing lives and breathes commercial finance brands and
They invent them from scratch.
They re-invent and revitalise them.
They look at them and see things nobody else has noticed.
They search until they discover what makes them special and
communicate that through strategic design thinking and faultless execution.