Banking on Digital Growth
Banking on Digital Growth

Episode · 5 months 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 tounderstand that when you do post something, all of your followers aren'tseeing 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 onsocial media, the reason why I'm a big, big advocate of posting often and andconsistently is because you need to be in front of your customers all the time. Mhm. Mhm. You're listening to banking on digitalgrowth. With James Robert lay a podcast that empowers financial brand marketingsales and leadership teams to maximize their digital growth potential bygenerating 10 times more loans and deposits. Today's episode is part ofthe exponential insight series where James robert interviews the industry'stop marketing sales and fintech leaders, sharing practical wisdom toexponentially elevate you and your team. Let's get into the show greetings andhello, I am James robert, ley and welcome to the 91st episode of theBanking on Digital Growth podcast. Today's episode is part of theexponential insight series and I'm excited to welcome Sandal Varsity anato the show chandeliers, the founder and ceo of RC media, helping financialbrands get even more inbound inquiries by writing blog posts that convert andthat right there is the key. It's all about the conversion and that's why Ilook forward to this conversation because content marketing, it'sstarting to trend once again as a hot topic because as financial brands havenavigated their way through the covid pandemic content has been one of theprimary ways for them to educate for, for them to empower account holders andreally bring a sense of empathy through the digital channel. So welcome to theshow, Sandal, thank you so much for...

...having me. I'm looking forward to thisconversation. And before we get into this, what is just one thing that isgoing fantastic for you right now, whether that be personally orprofessionally? Well, one thing that's really going well is that financialinstitutions are coming on board with content, especially the ones thatdidn't really think it was that important. They're seeing the value ofconsistently being in front of their target audience and just educating themand answering their questions and clearing up any misconceptions. Sothat's a positive thing that's happening in the industry overall. Ijust think, especially since the pandemic has happened and branches wereclosed and things like that, some of the guys were forced to kind of justfocus digitally because they didn't really have any other choice. So Ithink that's a good thing because at the end of the day, you always want tobe where your customers are and their customers are definitely online.Absolutely. And before we get too far into this trend, this pattern thatyou're seeing, that I'm seeing that I know others are seeing as well. I wantto start off by helping the dear listener gain some clarity from yourworld view of what is content, what is content marketing? Because this idea ofcontent, content marketing, it's somewhat of a buzz word gets thrownaround a lot and from the training, the coaching, the advising that we do overhere with financial brands, there still seems to be some confusion because,like digital growth, everyone defines content marketing just a little bitdifferently from their experience from their point of point of view. Even Ithink more so here in the banking space soap, can you start us off by providingsome clarity from from your perspective of what is content, what is contentmarketing for that matter? Absolutely. So, content is information and thatinformation could come in many different channels. This is contentright now, this podcast, people are going to be listening to the audioversion of it. That's content. Netflix provides contact content through tvshows through movies. Content could be...

...the written word, content could bevideo, it could be audio, it's really any type of information that is gettingin front of your ideal customer and then the marketing of that is justreally the distribution of that content on the different social media channelson your website, whether it's on the podcast, whether it's clubhouse, that'sreally the marketing of that, really getting it in front of your idealcustomer that I like. That content is information and the marketing pieces toonce again, is to get that information, that insight that education, thatawareness in front of the ideal account holder, the prospect when we look atthe macro level, specifically through the lens of financial services. What isa commonly held belief when it comes to content, when it comes to contentmarketing? A common belief that you just passionately disagree with. Wheremight others say one thing, but you're like, I don't think so. I think contentmarketing is something else uh, definitely a misconception is I canpost whenever I feel like it. Um that's really a misconception because it is along game and it's important to understand that when you do postsomething, all of your followers aren't seeing what you post unless you getmore high level and you're doing ads, then you can get more targeted. But ifyou'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 bein front of your customers all the time. They need to see you. It's out of sightout of mind. There's so many banks, credit unions, there's just so manyoptions for your customer that if you're not in front of themconsistently, if you're not answering their questions, if you're not clearingup any misconceptions, solving their problems, it's going to be a little bitdifficult for you to get their business. And it's that, that misconception ofthe misunderstanding that I can post whenever I want to, which typicallyLynn leads to in frequency. So maybe a...

...couple times a week if best and we seethis through some of the diagnostic work in the research that we're doingwhen putting the other training education and I don't know where thatthat misunderstanding lives. Maybe we can dive a little bit deeper into thatfrom 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 infront 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 youhelp to clarify and dive deeper into that? And what are some of theopportunities to overcome this misconception that the content is notgoing to reach everyone organically anymore? I think it's a mindset shiftbecause banks are so old in terms of they've been around for so long andwhat 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 yourcustomers are going, where they are in their life journey and how can you getin front of them to provide that value to them? Because the opportunity thatbanks have is you have a customer from 18 till death. I mean you are really Imean not many companies can say that right. A lot of companies just havelike a niche target market, but you you've got customers throughout thejourney of their life. They you've got products to satisfy customersthroughout life, but it's important to understand where they are and whattheir 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 believetheir their Fico score has to be 650 because that's wrong. Right. Do theynot think they can get into that dream house because maybe they don't thinkthey make enough money, but they do. And the reason why it's important to bewhere they are is because that helps you to build the relationships and getto know them just like if you and I are friends, I know what you like. So if Ican provide that to you, I will. So you...

...almost have to know your customers likethey're your like as well as you know, your friends, because that's how youthat'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. AndI think that right, there is another misconception that I see and and hereis, well we can post something and that's only going to reach a smallpercentage organically. I think that's now organic reach as it's known is 2-5at best. And that's why sometimes when you think about a content strategy, youalso have to think of it from a pay to play because you're, you know, havingto tap into the rented land that you have on Mark Zuckerberg's world offacebook and instagram linkedin still has some pretty good organic reach fromwhat we've been seeing. But then there's the other side of the equationof you know, like and trust people must know you before they like you, like youbefore they can trust you in content. Does help facilitate this, know liketrust paradigm, how important is it because that's from the lens of theconsumer, the perspective account holder, but you're talking about, weneed to know what our perspective account holders, their questions, theirconcerns 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 ofpushback when we say we we recommend you do some consumer persona work. Whydo we want to do that? It's going to it's going to create us to we're gonnahave to focus on these few individuals and you're no, no, no. It's going toprovide clarity for use that. You understand where their pain points areto help you with your content strategies going further. Can youprovide some more perspective around personas? Absolutely. I just had thisconversation with a client yesterday...

...actually, because I was explaining tothem that a 20 year old wants something different from a 30 year old or 35 yearold, right, A 20 year old may just be um, you know, their career is juststarting, they may be purchasing their first vehicle, getting their firstcredit cards. You know, they're just entering that career, a 30 year old mayalready have a child or two looking to get a mortgage. So you have to createcontent to speak to the different customers that you have. A first timehome buyer is going to have different questions from an investor, right? Aninvestor already has probably purchased homes before, so they already know allof the answers to those questions. But the first time home buyer doesn'treally know anything about buying a home because their first time homebuyer. So you would speak to those audiences differently and if you don'tspeak to them differently, you will lose them and you will lose them in theheadline. So it's very important to you have to, even though I said earlierthat banks have customers from 18 to to you know, 80 90 you can't speak to 18to 90 and one piece of content, you have to break that up. And this iswhere categories come in, this is where different post come in, this is wheredifferent videos come in. But whatever it is you are doing, you need to focuson one segment per post, per video, per audio, per blog post. How do you helpothers that you're working with? Because I'm going to put my my ceo haton at a bank, but I want my content to reach everyone. How do you help otherpeople overcome that foam? Oh, that fear of missing out. Because really, Ithink it's the fomo the fear of missing out. That leads to the fear of focus orthe lack of focus. And so content gets watered down. It doesn't really createany value. It's generic and I think you're right, the headline? Just theheadline alone, that's the doorway to the deeper perspective and when youhave that clarity of the who of the persona you can really paint and abeautiful door that's welcoming and inviting people in to dive deeper. Butwithout. So how do you help others...

...overcome that foam? Oh, that fear ofmissing out of focusing in content around some specific niche marketsegment? Well, you can focus on multiple missions at the same time. I'mnot saying only focus on 20 to 30 year olds, You can focus on 20 to 30 yearolds, 30 to 40 year olds, 40 to 50 years, you can focus on all of them atthe same time, but they have to be focused on with different pieces ofcontent is what I'm saying. So if your team is big enough, you can post asmuch as you want, really. You can post-25-30 pieces a day, but they needto be very specific. So it shouldn't be like a blanket approach, right? Itneeds to be very tailored. So all of these pieces need to be speaking toeach of your target markets. It's all how you look at it rather than lookingat it as oh, I only have to focus on one particular audience. No, I'm sayingfocus on one particular audience per post, per audio, per video, because ifyou focus on multiple audiences, you will lose them based on the examplethat I just gave you perform, I'm a first time Homebuyer and you're arepeat fire you and I have two completely different questions, but youcan still post two different posts, one for you and one for me. But mine willsay something completely different than you because they're talking to me andthey're talking to you, you just published at the same time, you justsaid something really key. If your team is big enough, you can post 2025 30different 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 ofscale? Because I'm a Ceo and I have a small marketing team of, you know, fivepeople and they're not all doing content. Maybe I have someone, they'redabbling in this stuff. What's the way to get that scale ability? Because, youknow, as as James robert now, I see that opportunity, But how can can wehelp create that scale of that? 2025,...

...30 pieces of content per day that goout to these different audience segments that speak specifically intotheir hearts and minds? Well, I don't like doing a shameless plug, but thatthat's the common problem that our customers have. So they outsource thecontent writing to us because we have a larger team, they don't have to hire usas employees and things like that. So, and we're really heavily focused onfinancial institutions. So that is one way you can outsource it if you don'thave the manpower now. Keep in mind too, that one piece of content can berepurposed 12 different ways, so you don't have to look at. And I alwaystell 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, thatcould be broken into 12 social media posts. So repurposed repurposingcontent is huge, especially if you've got long form content. So you can justyou can turn that into audio. We've even take an audio and turn that intowritten word. We've taken video and turn that into written word. You cantake snippets of it and turn that into social media posts. So think of it thatway as well, especially if you have a smaller team and you're wanting tomaximize the content that you do have. You can also look at old content thatyou have and make it current. So there's many things you can do just torepurpose the content and make it valuable to today's audience. And soyou're echoing some of the perspective that was shared by Marcus Sheraton, anepisode #83 when we were talking about his book. They ask you answer and it'sa great book and it really is about operational izing this. And so you'rethinking is, and I agree with you don't let the lack of either a capability orbe capacity prevent you from leveraging...

...the power of content at scale becauseyou're right. That 1000 word article or that 1500 word article that will helpwith organic S E. O Reach. That creates a long tell value over time to generateleads 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 wayconsumers shop for and buy financial services forever. Now consumers makepurchase decisions long before they walk into a branch if they walk into abranch at all, but your financial brand still wants to grow loans and deposits.We get it. Digital growth can feel confusing, frustrating and overwhelmingfor any financial brand. Marketing and sales leader, but it doesn't have tobecause James robert wrote the book that guides you every step of the wayalong your digital growth journey, visit www dot digital growth dot com toget a preview of his best selling book banking on digital growth or order acopy right now for you and your team from amazon inside, you'll find astrategic marketing manifesto that was written to transform financial brandsand it is packed full of practical and proven insights. You can start usingtoday To confidently generate 10 times more loans and deposits now back to theshow, think Outside of the box and be creative and some other things that youcan do are quick videos are wonderful. Like if you've got a small team, eachof them could post a quick video, then you can expand on that and create along form blog post. Then you can take snippets of that and post it on socialmedia. You can even record a five minute video and break that into 32ndsegments and post that like six times. See, and this is all, this is all aboutcontent operations. And this has been a big part of the training and theeducation that we've been doing because...

...it really is. I think back to yourpoint about transforming and shifting the mindset of marketing for marketingto be viewed as more of a media publication activity as opposed to justgoing out and buying adds. Because if you have to think back historically,that's what has driven marketing specifically in financial brands. Itwas the the Madman tv like approach to, you know, you buy an ad and then thatwas it. And then this is a much more active approach to marketing, but it'salso involving other people from other areas of the organization. Youmentioned video, you can tap into other subject matter experts that can sharetheir knowledge, their areas of expertise when we're thinking aboutthis, what might be some challenges? What might be some roadblocks forfinancial brands? They'll have to overcome as they're moving forwardalong this journey and just think about some of the work that you've been doingwith your clients over the years, things that they've had to overcomeroadblocks is compliance for sure. But so what I always recommend is heavilymeeting with compliance and find out where we can work within the boundariesbecause that, that's the best place to start. It doesn't make sense to kind ofget creative and then it's out of compliance. So it's better to sit withcompliance and say, okay, what can we do? And then let's get creative withinthe 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 ahuge mindset shift, but I would just say, and and it really depends on, youknow what your goal is, Who are you trying to talk to, what products areyou trying to push? Okay, so based on what compliance is saying now, let'slook at an overall strategy because sometimes we need to go all the wayback and figure out what your ideal client even wants because not knowingwhat they want doesn't even make sense to put any content out there. You haveto 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 joinfacebook groups. Facebook groups are huge to get to know your ideal customerand I'll give you an example. Like let's say you are focused on first timehome 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 thesegroups and take 20 minutes per day and listen, that's it. You will be, youwill gain so much insight on what your ideal customer wants because everyonein that group is wanting to buy a home. So I mean it's just and and that and alot of your customers are there. So if you show up where they are and just bea fly on the wall and just listen, Oh my goodness. I mean that's justinvaluable insight right there. Yeah. And you're right. And that's an acronymthat we teach when it comes to, for example, persona development to go allin on people you ask you listen and you learn and it's through those lessonsthat you can put together a content strategy that is not about you, thefinancial brand and that takes you down a path of narcissistic marketing. It'snever about you ever. And the opportunity is to play the role of thehelpful guide with narrative structure. You know, the Obi wan Kenobi is the Mrmiyagi use of the world. And so when it comes to these opportunities here, whathave been some of the winds the value creation? Because as I introduced youwas really about generating inbound leads, because otherwise, what's thepoint like what value are we creating if a tree falls in the woods doesn'tmake a sound? If you produce a piece of content and fail to promote it, does itcreate 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 aspectof the overall marketing strategy...

...because we just focus on the writtenword. But I do have a lot of experience with Ceo and things like that. So Iusually will chime in on what I think will be beneficial. So the contentactually converts. So yeah, I usually start with them finding out exactlywhat their target audience is talking about. Once they get to know theirtarget audience, then I'm going to start asking them, what are theytalking about? Like what are some of the misconceptions that they have? Whatare some of the pain points that they have. Now let's start writing aboutthose pain points and post them not only on your social media site, butwe're also going to post that on your website because if they want to dig alittle bit deeper than they can go on to your website and now we want them tosubscribe on your website. We also want to provide them with some freebiesbecause at the end of the day, you want to control your audience. You do notwant social media to control your audience. Social media is just a toolto 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 themengaged. So you have to have some freebies, you have to have a lot enoughvaluable information so that they will want to subscribe so that they want todownload your checklist, your guide or whatever it is you have and then theyget into your funnel now you can control the audience and now you canprovide them with even more valuable information. Now you're still in thesefacebook groups listening to what it is they're saying. Now we start to createa content strategy. So based on what they're saying, we're going to producesome content, but not only that is now, we're going to take a look at keywordsbased on what they're talking about. What are they also searching for ongoogle. Then we're going to mirror those two and create some content byusing those keywords. So now we've got a little bit of a search engineoptimization strategy to create the content. I'm also big on paying for adsas well because you just hit more people faster when you do PPC ads whenyou're doing the facebook ads. So I'm a, I'm a proponent of all of it. We justfocused on the written word, but in order to in order to just blast thevisibility with value, you do need to be as many places as quickly aspossible and consistently as possible.

So that's in a nutshell. I think whatyou just said is key to points that I wanted to bring back for the dearlistener number one. it's about driving traffic from social media to your ownproperties and from there, it's about email acquisition, because social media,a great analogy of this that a lot of financial brand marketing, sales andleadership teams connect with is it's like cable network tv. If you want toreach a cable audience, you have to pay to get access to the audience. And sothat's number one and number two, kind of this idea of paying the play forevery dollar that you spend to produce a piece of content. I recommend, youknow, 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 assome type of an email nurturing drip campaign. So it's all of these littlepieces that come together and if you start removing these different elementsand that's what I see a lot of times is they've got the writing down, but it'sit's needing to support those efforts with all of everything else becauseotherwise it's like the good work that you and your team are doing. It's hardto then quantify that in the greater scale and the greater scope. There's afinancial brand that we've been advising for probably the past five orsix years. And they actually brought someone in the house to that was theirsole job. They were a content strategists. They started writingcontent. And you see organic search traffic to their blog, go from 1000before 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 visitsto blog articles only. And that blog articles and blog articles are nowbeing optimized for additional lead capture because that's an asset thatthey now own. That's because imagine how much you would have to pay To drive100,000 visits if you're paying for PPC or any other type. I mean just justassign a $3 cost per click. That's a $300,000 investment just to drive thattraffic. And what's better than that is because when you're talking about theorganic search, people are actively typing in. So it's a much morequalified 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 atyour content strategy, at the larger spectrum and scale, these are thethings. 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 adollar amount to, if we could buy traffic, you're owning this now it's anasset. And what's what's happened is this individual has gotten so busy. Ibasically made the recommendation. You need to start working with outsideoutside writers and take the strategy because it's there's a world full ofwho's like you who can bridge that capability. But I think at this pointit's a capacity gap. Absolutely. And it's so important that the and thereason why I'm big on doing all of the ads as well as the the Organic isbecause the Organic the Organic helps for the longevity. Um and then it helpsyou to control your audience because you know, google facebook, they canchange prices any time they change google changes their algorithms all thetime as you know, I'm sure, you know, and so facebook, so you need to justuse these as tools and then you have to be able to control your audiencebecause if you're not able to control...

...your audience and all of your audienceis just on social media, you can lose them. Those are that could end up beingwasted effort. And at the end of the day, you can control more of what's onyour 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 ingrowing 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'slike for every 10,000 you're lucky if you get eyeballs on, You have 2-300from 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 timesa day takes, that's what it takes. Some of the digital marketing Gurus suggest20-25 times per day. And the reason why they say that is because that is whatit takes for even a small percentage to see your content. If you're not doingany type of ads, it's just so noisy. So you have to find a way to get inbetween that noise and get your, you know, your value across to your ideabecause you're competing with cat videos and you know, all the otherdistractions of the world. And I want to I want to come back to that 10 to 15times per day upwards of 20 to 25 times posting on social media and andobviously it's gonna be channel specific, but this has been a fantasticconversation, sean Bell a lot, a lot of practicality for actions that someoneis listening, they can take to up their content game. I always like to end toget really specific because I think when you look at this idea of oftransforming minds, transforming behavior is transforming habits. It allstarts with a small micro commitment. Nothing too big but just somethingsmall. What is a small recommendation...

...that you would make to someonelistening who's looking at maximizing their content efforts at theirfinancial 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 saybe a fly on the wall and join the facebook group that one of your targetaudience 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 facebookgroups that have the most number of people and are the most active so youcan get the best bang for your time. Um, I don't suggest spending more than 20minutes because you can get lost in them. I don't suggest spending morethan, you know, 20 minutes in them a day. You don't need to join a wholebunch to at the max. Once you search, like we use the example, first timehomebuyers, Once you search that, you'll see all of them come up and thenlook for the ones that have the most amount of people and have the mostactivity. So they'll, they'll tell you how many posts they do per day. Youwant to join the ones that do the most pulse, because then you'll see moreactivity and what you're looking for is patterns, you're looking for similarquestions. You're looking for similar misconceptions, you're looking forsimilar pain points because that will give you an idea of what the bulk ofthe 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 caninform your next steps with the content that you can produce chandeliers.Someone is listening, they want to continue this conversation, They wantto follow up with you personally what is the best way for them to reach outto connect with you to say hello, I'm on linkedin all the time because that'swhere my ideal customers so you can reach out to me on Lincoln. My handleis sandal Barcelona everywhere, so, but Lincoln is where I'm most active andshe is extremely active. She is sharing a lot of knowledge, she's practicingwhat she believes and I thank you for that. Sean Dillon also thank you forjoining me on another episode of Banking on Digital Growth. Thank you somuch 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 listeningto 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 onapple podcasts, google podcasts or Spotify and subscribe while you'rethere. To get even more practical improvement insights, visit www. Dotdigital growth dot com to grab a preview of James roberts, best sellingbook banking on digital growth or order a copy right now for you and your teamfrom amazon inside you'll find a strategic marketing and sales blueprintframed around 12 key areas of focus that empower you to confidentlygenerate 10 times more loans and deposits until next time be well and dogood.

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