Banking on Digital Growth
Banking on Digital Growth

Episode · 1 year ago

91) #ExponentialInsights: Content Marketing Brings Empathy to the Digital Channel

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

The pandemic has proven the value of content marketing for financial brands — it’s how you educate and empower your account holders, and how you bring a sense of empathy to the digital channel.

That’s why today’s guest on the show — Shondell Varcian, CEO & Founder at Varci Media, is an expert in using content to better serve customers and she shares her secrets in this episode.

We discuss:

- Why content marketing allows you to meet your customers where they are.

- How to tailor content to educate specific customers

- Tips for learning your target audience effectively

You can find this interview and many more by subscribing to Banking on Digital Growth on Apple Podcasts, on Spotify, or here.

Listening on a desktop & can’t see the links? Just search for Banking on Digital Growth in your favorite podcast player.
 

...it is a long game and it's important to understand that when you do post something, all of your followers aren't seeing what you post unless you get more high level and you're doing ads, then you can get more targeted. But if you're posting even consistently on social media, the reason why I'm a big, big advocate of posting often and and consistently is because you need to be in front of your customers all the time. Mhm. Mhm. You're listening to banking on digital growth. With James Robert lay a podcast that empowers financial brand marketing sales and leadership teams to maximize their digital growth potential by generating 10 times more loans and deposits. Today's episode is part of the exponential insight series where James robert interviews the industry's top marketing sales and fintech leaders, sharing practical wisdom to exponentially elevate you and your team. Let's get into the show greetings and hello, I am James robert, ley and welcome to the 91st episode of the Banking on Digital Growth podcast. Today's episode is part of the exponential insight series and I'm excited to welcome Sandal Varsity ana to the show chandeliers, the founder and ceo of RC media, helping financial brands get even more inbound inquiries by writing blog posts that convert and that right there is the key. It's all about the conversion and that's why I look forward to this conversation because content marketing, it's starting to trend once again as a hot topic because as financial brands have navigated their way through the covid pandemic content has been one of the primary ways for them to educate for, for them to empower account holders and really bring a sense of empathy through the digital channel. So welcome to the show, Sandal, thank you so much for...

...having me. I'm looking forward to this conversation. And before we get into this, what is just one thing that is going fantastic for you right now, whether that be personally or professionally? Well, one thing that's really going well is that financial institutions are coming on board with content, especially the ones that didn't really think it was that important. They're seeing the value of consistently being in front of their target audience and just educating them and answering their questions and clearing up any misconceptions. So that's a positive thing that's happening in the industry overall. I just think, especially since the pandemic has happened and branches were closed and things like that, some of the guys were forced to kind of just focus digitally because they didn't really have any other choice. So I think that's a good thing because at the end of the day, you always want to be where your customers are and their customers are definitely online. Absolutely. And before we get too far into this trend, this pattern that you're seeing, that I'm seeing that I know others are seeing as well. I want to start off by helping the dear listener gain some clarity from your world view of what is content, what is content marketing? Because this idea of content, content marketing, it's somewhat of a buzz word gets thrown around a lot and from the training, the coaching, the advising that we do over here with financial brands, there still seems to be some confusion because, like digital growth, everyone defines content marketing just a little bit differently from their experience from their point of point of view. Even I think more so here in the banking space soap, can you start us off by providing some clarity from from your perspective of what is content, what is content marketing for that matter? Absolutely. So, content is information and that information could come in many different channels. This is content right now, this podcast, people are going to be listening to the audio version of it. That's content. Netflix provides contact content through tv shows through movies. Content could be...

...the written word, content could be video, it could be audio, it's really any type of information that is getting in front of your ideal customer and then the marketing of that is just really the distribution of that content on the different social media channels on your website, whether it's on the podcast, whether it's clubhouse, that's really the marketing of that, really getting it in front of your ideal customer that I like. That content is information and the marketing pieces to once again, is to get that information, that insight that education, that awareness in front of the ideal account holder, the prospect when we look at the macro level, specifically through the lens of financial services. What is a commonly held belief when it comes to content, when it comes to content marketing? A common belief that you just passionately disagree with. Where might others say one thing, but you're like, I don't think so. I think content marketing is something else uh, definitely a misconception is I can post whenever I feel like it. Um that's really a misconception because it is a long game and it's important to understand that when you do post something, all of your followers aren't seeing what you post unless you get more high level and you're doing ads, then you can get more targeted. But if you're posting even consistently on social media, the reason why I'm a big, big advocate of posting often and consistently is because you need to be in front of your customers all the time. They need to see you. It's out of sight out of mind. There's so many banks, credit unions, there's just so many options for your customer that if you're not in front of them consistently, if you're not answering their questions, if you're not clearing up any misconceptions, solving their problems, it's going to be a little bit difficult for you to get their business. And it's that, that misconception of the misunderstanding that I can post whenever I want to, which typically Lynn leads to in frequency. So maybe a...

...couple times a week if best and we see this through some of the diagnostic work in the research that we're doing when putting the other training education and I don't know where that that misunderstanding lives. Maybe we can dive a little bit deeper into that from what you're seeing and what you're hearing because for me, it's It's well, if I post something on Facebook and that's free and it's going to get in front of you know, let's just say we have 10,000 fans on Facebook. Well, it's going to get in front of all 10,000, right? No wrong. How can you help to clarify and dive deeper into that? And what are some of the opportunities to overcome this misconception that the content is not going to reach everyone organically anymore? I think it's a mindset shift because banks are so old in terms of they've been around for so long and what I've seen is some of them are not shifting with their customers, right? You have to always be, you know how your customers are thinking, where your customers are going, where they are in their life journey and how can you get in front of them to provide that value to them? Because the opportunity that banks have is you have a customer from 18 till death. I mean you are really I mean not many companies can say that right. A lot of companies just have like a niche target market, but you you've got customers throughout the journey of their life. They you've got products to satisfy customers throughout life, but it's important to understand where they are and what their problems are. What are their pain points? What questions are they asking, what misconceptions do they have? What do they want right now? Do they believe their their Fico score has to be 650 because that's wrong. Right. Do they not think they can get into that dream house because maybe they don't think they make enough money, but they do. And the reason why it's important to be where they are is because that helps you to build the relationships and get to know them just like if you and I are friends, I know what you like. So if I can provide that to you, I will. So you...

...almost have to know your customers like they're your like as well as you know, your friends, because that's how you that's the only way you're going to be able to serve them at a higher level. And that takes time and that takes you no time to build that relationship. And I think that right, there is another misconception that I see and and here is, well we can post something and that's only going to reach a small percentage organically. I think that's now organic reach as it's known is 2-5 at best. And that's why sometimes when you think about a content strategy, you also have to think of it from a pay to play because you're, you know, having to tap into the rented land that you have on Mark Zuckerberg's world of facebook and instagram linkedin still has some pretty good organic reach from what we've been seeing. But then there's the other side of the equation of you know, like and trust people must know you before they like you, like you before they can trust you in content. Does help facilitate this, know like trust paradigm, how important is it because that's from the lens of the consumer, the perspective account holder, but you're talking about, we need to know what our perspective account holders, their questions, their concerns are. What role do tools like say consumer personas play into this? And is it worth taking the time to go down there? Because I get a lot of pushback when we say we we recommend you do some consumer persona work. Why do we want to do that? It's going to it's going to create us to we're gonna have to focus on these few individuals and you're no, no, no. It's going to provide clarity for use that. You understand where their pain points are to help you with your content strategies going further. Can you provide some more perspective around personas? Absolutely. I just had this conversation with a client yesterday...

...actually, because I was explaining to them that a 20 year old wants something different from a 30 year old or 35 year old, right, A 20 year old may just be um, you know, their career is just starting, they may be purchasing their first vehicle, getting their first credit cards. You know, they're just entering that career, a 30 year old may already have a child or two looking to get a mortgage. So you have to create content to speak to the different customers that you have. A first time home buyer is going to have different questions from an investor, right? An investor already has probably purchased homes before, so they already know all of the answers to those questions. But the first time home buyer doesn't really know anything about buying a home because their first time home buyer. So you would speak to those audiences differently and if you don't speak to them differently, you will lose them and you will lose them in the headline. So it's very important to you have to, even though I said earlier that banks have customers from 18 to to you know, 80 90 you can't speak to 18 to 90 and one piece of content, you have to break that up. And this is where categories come in, this is where different post come in, this is where different videos come in. But whatever it is you are doing, you need to focus on one segment per post, per video, per audio, per blog post. How do you help others that you're working with? Because I'm going to put my my ceo hat on at a bank, but I want my content to reach everyone. How do you help other people overcome that foam? Oh, that fear of missing out. Because really, I think it's the fomo the fear of missing out. That leads to the fear of focus or the lack of focus. And so content gets watered down. It doesn't really create any value. It's generic and I think you're right, the headline? Just the headline alone, that's the doorway to the deeper perspective and when you have that clarity of the who of the persona you can really paint and a beautiful door that's welcoming and inviting people in to dive deeper. But without. So how do you help others...

...overcome that foam? Oh, that fear of missing out of focusing in content around some specific niche market segment? Well, you can focus on multiple missions at the same time. I'm not saying only focus on 20 to 30 year olds, You can focus on 20 to 30 year olds, 30 to 40 year olds, 40 to 50 years, you can focus on all of them at the same time, but they have to be focused on with different pieces of content is what I'm saying. So if your team is big enough, you can post as much as you want, really. You can post-25-30 pieces a day, but they need to be very specific. So it shouldn't be like a blanket approach, right? It needs to be very tailored. So all of these pieces need to be speaking to each of your target markets. It's all how you look at it rather than looking at it as oh, I only have to focus on one particular audience. No, I'm saying focus on one particular audience per post, per audio, per video, because if you focus on multiple audiences, you will lose them based on the example that I just gave you perform, I'm a first time Homebuyer and you're a repeat fire you and I have two completely different questions, but you can still post two different posts, one for you and one for me. But mine will say something completely different than you because they're talking to me and they're talking to you, you just published at the same time, you just said something really key. If your team is big enough, you can post 2025 30 different pieces of content per day. Once again, I'm gonna put my ceo hat on. You just gave me anxiety how and how are we going to create that type of scale? Because I'm a Ceo and I have a small marketing team of, you know, five people and they're not all doing content. Maybe I have someone, they're dabbling in this stuff. What's the way to get that scale ability? Because, you know, as as James robert now, I see that opportunity, But how can can we help create that scale of that? 2025,...

...30 pieces of content per day that go out to these different audience segments that speak specifically into their hearts and minds? Well, I don't like doing a shameless plug, but that that's the common problem that our customers have. So they outsource the content writing to us because we have a larger team, they don't have to hire us as employees and things like that. So, and we're really heavily focused on financial institutions. So that is one way you can outsource it if you don't have the manpower now. Keep in mind too, that one piece of content can be repurposed 12 different ways, so you don't have to look at. And I always tell our clients and push this heavily, you know, like, let's say for example, we write, you know, 1000 word blog post for one of our clients. You know, that could be broken into 12 social media posts. So repurposed repurposing content is huge, especially if you've got long form content. So you can just you can turn that into audio. We've even take an audio and turn that into written word. We've taken video and turn that into written word. You can take snippets of it and turn that into social media posts. So think of it that way as well, especially if you have a smaller team and you're wanting to maximize the content that you do have. You can also look at old content that you have and make it current. So there's many things you can do just to repurpose the content and make it valuable to today's audience. And so you're echoing some of the perspective that was shared by Marcus Sheraton, an episode #83 when we were talking about his book. They ask you answer and it's a great book and it really is about operational izing this. And so you're thinking is, and I agree with you don't let the lack of either a capability or be capacity prevent you from leveraging...

...the power of content at scale because you're right. That 1000 word article or that 1500 word article that will help with organic S E. O Reach. That creates a long tell value over time to generate leads can be broken up into smaller content assets that are then repurpose. And so it's almost like it's a gift that essentially could keep on giving. Technology has transformed our world and digital has changed the way consumers shop for and buy financial services forever. Now consumers make purchase decisions long before they walk into a branch if they walk into a branch at all, but your financial brand still wants to grow loans and deposits. We get it. Digital growth can feel confusing, frustrating and overwhelming for any financial brand. Marketing and sales leader, but it doesn't have to because James robert wrote the book that guides you every step of the way along your digital growth journey, visit www dot digital growth dot com to get a preview of his best selling book banking on digital growth or order a copy right now for you and your team from amazon inside, you'll find a strategic marketing manifesto that was written to transform financial brands and it is packed full of practical and proven insights. You can start using today To confidently generate 10 times more loans and deposits now back to the show, think Outside of the box and be creative and some other things that you can do are quick videos are wonderful. Like if you've got a small team, each of them could post a quick video, then you can expand on that and create a long form blog post. Then you can take snippets of that and post it on social media. You can even record a five minute video and break that into 32nd segments and post that like six times. See, and this is all, this is all about content operations. And this has been a big part of the training and the education that we've been doing because...

...it really is. I think back to your point about transforming and shifting the mindset of marketing for marketing to be viewed as more of a media publication activity as opposed to just going out and buying adds. Because if you have to think back historically, that's what has driven marketing specifically in financial brands. It was the the Madman tv like approach to, you know, you buy an ad and then that was it. And then this is a much more active approach to marketing, but it's also involving other people from other areas of the organization. You mentioned video, you can tap into other subject matter experts that can share their knowledge, their areas of expertise when we're thinking about this, what might be some challenges? What might be some roadblocks for financial brands? They'll have to overcome as they're moving forward along this journey and just think about some of the work that you've been doing with your clients over the years, things that they've had to overcome roadblocks is compliance for sure. But so what I always recommend is heavily meeting with compliance and find out where we can work within the boundaries because that, that's the best place to start. It doesn't make sense to kind of get creative and then it's out of compliance. So it's better to sit with compliance and say, okay, what can we do? And then let's get creative within the scope of what is allowed versus thinking about what's not allowed. There's so many ways to get creative. It's just a matter of, again, it is a huge mindset shift, but I would just say, and and it really depends on, you know what your goal is, Who are you trying to talk to, what products are you trying to push? Okay, so based on what compliance is saying now, let's look at an overall strategy because sometimes we need to go all the way back and figure out what your ideal client even wants because not knowing what they want doesn't even make sense to put any content out there. You have to know who your target audience is and...

...you have to know them extremely well. And a tip. One way to find out what they want in my opinion is to join facebook groups. Facebook groups are huge to get to know your ideal customer and I'll give you an example. Like let's say you are focused on first time home buyers. There are so many first time home buyer groups on facebook, just be a fly on the wall And take 20 minutes per day, join one of these groups and take 20 minutes per day and listen, that's it. You will be, you will gain so much insight on what your ideal customer wants because everyone in that group is wanting to buy a home. So I mean it's just and and that and a lot of your customers are there. So if you show up where they are and just be a fly on the wall and just listen, Oh my goodness. I mean that's just invaluable insight right there. Yeah. And you're right. And that's an acronym that we teach when it comes to, for example, persona development to go all in on people you ask you listen and you learn and it's through those lessons that you can put together a content strategy that is not about you, the financial brand and that takes you down a path of narcissistic marketing. It's never about you ever. And the opportunity is to play the role of the helpful guide with narrative structure. You know, the Obi wan Kenobi is the Mr miyagi use of the world. And so when it comes to these opportunities here, what have been some of the winds the value creation? Because as I introduced you was really about generating inbound leads, because otherwise, what's the point like what value are we creating if a tree falls in the woods doesn't make a sound? If you produce a piece of content and fail to promote it, does it create value? Does it generate leads? So let's talk about value creation, What have you seen from the work that you've been doing? So we are one aspect of the overall marketing strategy...

...because we just focus on the written word. But I do have a lot of experience with Ceo and things like that. So I usually will chime in on what I think will be beneficial. So the content actually converts. So yeah, I usually start with them finding out exactly what their target audience is talking about. Once they get to know their target audience, then I'm going to start asking them, what are they talking about? Like what are some of the misconceptions that they have? What are some of the pain points that they have. Now let's start writing about those pain points and post them not only on your social media site, but we're also going to post that on your website because if they want to dig a little bit deeper than they can go on to your website and now we want them to subscribe on your website. We also want to provide them with some freebies because at the end of the day, you want to control your audience. You do not want social media to control your audience. Social media is just a tool to bring your audience into your final, into your house, into your playground. Once we come into your playground that you want to, you want to keep them engaged. So you have to have some freebies, you have to have a lot enough valuable information so that they will want to subscribe so that they want to download your checklist, your guide or whatever it is you have and then they get into your funnel now you can control the audience and now you can provide them with even more valuable information. Now you're still in these facebook groups listening to what it is they're saying. Now we start to create a content strategy. So based on what they're saying, we're going to produce some content, but not only that is now, we're going to take a look at keywords based on what they're talking about. What are they also searching for on google. Then we're going to mirror those two and create some content by using those keywords. So now we've got a little bit of a search engine optimization strategy to create the content. I'm also big on paying for ads as well because you just hit more people faster when you do PPC ads when you're doing the facebook ads. So I'm a, I'm a proponent of all of it. We just focused on the written word, but in order to in order to just blast the visibility with value, you do need to be as many places as quickly as possible and consistently as possible.

So that's in a nutshell. I think what you just said is key to points that I wanted to bring back for the dear listener number one. it's about driving traffic from social media to your own properties and from there, it's about email acquisition, because social media, a great analogy of this that a lot of financial brand marketing, sales and leadership teams connect with is it's like cable network tv. If you want to reach a cable audience, you have to pay to get access to the audience. And so that's number one and number two, kind of this idea of paying the play for every dollar that you spend to produce a piece of content. I recommend, you know, at least putting a dollar behind that to promote that piece of content, if not even more. Because now you're getting into targeted marketing, targeted advertising efforts that you can come back and even repurpose it as some type of an email nurturing drip campaign. So it's all of these little pieces that come together and if you start removing these different elements and that's what I see a lot of times is they've got the writing down, but it's it's needing to support those efforts with all of everything else because otherwise it's like the good work that you and your team are doing. It's hard to then quantify that in the greater scale and the greater scope. There's a financial brand that we've been advising for probably the past five or six years. And they actually brought someone in the house to that was their sole job. They were a content strategists. They started writing content. And you see organic search traffic to their blog, go from 1000 before 3000 when they joined, which was, I think mid year of like 2019 or 2018, that then grew to 80,000. And then this...

...year they're looking at 100,000 visits to blog articles only. And that blog articles and blog articles are now being optimized for additional lead capture because that's an asset that they now own. That's because imagine how much you would have to pay To drive 100,000 visits if you're paying for PPC or any other type. I mean just just assign a $3 cost per click. That's a $300,000 investment just to drive that traffic. And what's better than that is because when you're talking about the organic search, people are actively typing in. So it's a much more qualified visit, as opposed to say someone who's just clicking on an ad. And so that's the qualification to that. I think, you know, when you look at your content strategy, at the larger spectrum and scale, these are the things. And then from there, it's obviously, you know, generating leads. That's a whole another aspect. But yeah, I think even, you know, putting a dollar amount to, if we could buy traffic, you're owning this now it's an asset. And what's what's happened is this individual has gotten so busy. I basically made the recommendation. You need to start working with outside outside writers and take the strategy because it's there's a world full of who's like you who can bridge that capability. But I think at this point it's a capacity gap. Absolutely. And it's so important that the and the reason why I'm big on doing all of the ads as well as the the Organic is because the Organic the Organic helps for the longevity. Um and then it helps you to control your audience because you know, google facebook, they can change prices any time they change google changes their algorithms all the time as you know, I'm sure, you know, and so facebook, so you need to just use these as tools and then you have to be able to control your audience because if you're not able to control...

...your audience and all of your audience is just on social media, you can lose them. Those are that could end up being wasted effort. And at the end of the day, you can control more of what's on your website, then you can on social, your social media sites. It's the irony, the irony to me is why in 2021 our financial brands still interested in growing a facebook audience from, say 1000 to 10,000 or 10,000 To 100,000. I'm like because you're still only going to get 2-3 organic reach. So it's like for every 10,000 you're lucky if you get eyeballs on, You have 2-300 from 2 to 300 people. So you've got a post, like for you're absolutely right. And I mean, you know, some brands they're posting, you know, 10, 15 times a day takes, that's what it takes. Some of the digital marketing Gurus suggest 20-25 times per day. And the reason why they say that is because that is what it takes for even a small percentage to see your content. If you're not doing any type of ads, it's just so noisy. So you have to find a way to get in between that noise and get your, you know, your value across to your idea because you're competing with cat videos and you know, all the other distractions of the world. And I want to I want to come back to that 10 to 15 times per day upwards of 20 to 25 times posting on social media and and obviously it's gonna be channel specific, but this has been a fantastic conversation, sean Bell a lot, a lot of practicality for actions that someone is listening, they can take to up their content game. I always like to end to get really specific because I think when you look at this idea of of transforming minds, transforming behavior is transforming habits. It all starts with a small micro commitment. Nothing too big but just something small. What is a small recommendation...

...that you would make to someone listening who's looking at maximizing their content efforts at their financial brand? What is something small that they can start doing today? Even going forward? I would say a start, depending on where you are, I would say be a fly on the wall and join the facebook group that one of your target audience is hanging out at that. That doesn't take much time. And I don't say, oh and another tip with the facebook groups is you want to join facebook groups that have the most number of people and are the most active so you can get the best bang for your time. Um, I don't suggest spending more than 20 minutes because you can get lost in them. I don't suggest spending more than, you know, 20 minutes in them a day. You don't need to join a whole bunch to at the max. Once you search, like we use the example, first time homebuyers, Once you search that, you'll see all of them come up and then look for the ones that have the most amount of people and have the most activity. So they'll, they'll tell you how many posts they do per day. You want to join the ones that do the most pulse, because then you'll see more activity and what you're looking for is patterns, you're looking for similar questions. You're looking for similar misconceptions, you're looking for similar pain points because that will give you an idea of what the bulk of the people are thinking and that is how you go all in. That is how you ask. That is how you listen and that is how you learn and that is how you can inform your next steps with the content that you can produce chandeliers. Someone is listening, they want to continue this conversation, They want to follow up with you personally what is the best way for them to reach out to connect with you to say hello, I'm on linkedin all the time because that's where my ideal customers so you can reach out to me on Lincoln. My handle is sandal Barcelona everywhere, so, but Lincoln is where I'm most active and she is extremely active. She is sharing a lot of knowledge, she's practicing what she believes and I thank you for that. Sean Dillon also thank you for joining me on another episode of Banking on Digital Growth. Thank you so much for having me. I had a wonderful...

...time. This was a lot of fun as always. Until next time be well, do good and make your bed. Thank you for listening to another episode of banking on digital growth with James robert. Ley. Like what you hear, tell a friend about the podcast and leave us a review on apple podcasts, google podcasts or Spotify and subscribe while you're there. To get even more practical improvement insights, visit www. Dot digital growth dot com to grab a preview of James roberts, best selling book banking on digital growth or order a copy right now for you and your team from amazon inside you'll find a strategic marketing and sales blueprint framed around 12 key areas of focus that empower you to confidently generate 10 times more loans and deposits until next time be well and do good.

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