People often ask me how my day-to-day work has changed since I made the transition from business journalist to content creator for financial brands.
The answer: Not as much as you might think. In fact, I use many of the tactics I employed as a business news writer in my current position as senior editor at Group SJR. Financial institutions have good reason to do the same in their own content approach.
There’s no shortage of money content these days, but much of it fails in its mission. While banks, investment advisors, asset managers, fintech companies, and accountants have all jumped on the content-marketing bandwagon, many don’t produce much more than dull research reports and stodgy podcasts. That means they’re missing out on a big opportunity to build brand awareness, develop business leads, and strengthen ties to existing clients.
Consider that the internet is often the first stop for consumers when they search for financial products. Powerful financial content can help turn a homebuyer searching for a mortgage, a small-business owner looking for financing, or an investor shopping for mutual funds into your next customer.
Here are four ways financial services companies can elevate their content by thinking like business journalists.
Keep your eye on the business news cycle
Financial editors and reporters focus on the most important business stories of the day and are always looking for ways to advance the news. That should be your mantra, too.
It’s worth asking yourself regularly: What are the leading trends that are reshaping the financial landscape and in what way can my company and its executives be thought leaders on this topic?
Once you decide to weigh in on a topic, find an angle—a unique perspective that will set your content apart. Keep in mind, readers are much more likely to take in small bites of your wisdom than a big report that aims to cover the waterfront.
Make finance human
As any good business journalist knows, putting a human face to a business story helps establish a strong connection to readers. A captivating tale of a CEO who managed her company in a time of crisis is far more interesting than a dry account of a company’s financial performance.
Whether you’re a B2B or B2C financial services company, there are many ways you can weave real people into your content. If you’re selling directly to consumers, tell stories about how your products changed lives. That could mean producing a video series on first-time homebuyers or profiling entrepreneurs who were able to launch and grow their businesses thanks to your financing.
Look for opportunities to showcase members of your team. Let’s say you’re a fintech company eager to spread the word about your latest innovation. It might be tempting to issue a press release that provides the details. A better approach: Spotlight the inventor within your company who created that product.
Decode complex topics
When a complicated financial subject is trending, editors will often ask reporters to write an “explainer,” an article that breaks down a topic into points that are easy to understand.
Producing explainers and other types of financial-education content can establish you as a trusted authority and motivate consumers to buy your product.
Your prospective customers might be struggling to master financial topics such as the difference between a health savings account and a flexible spending account. A simple explainer executed in an animated video, for example, could raise awareness for your brand—and even go viral, as it did for an SJR client.
Tell me a story
All too often, when creating content, financial services companies simply string together facts and figures. They choose big words and industry jargon to appear sophisticated and in the know.
That approach would never fly in a newsroom, and it has no place in your content. Business journalists use simple language and short sentences to make their points, regardless of whether their audience is Wall Street titans or the Man on the Street. They dig up interesting facts, find new angles, and then craft compelling stories.
In the words of Chris Roush, the dean of the School of Communications at Quinnipiac University: “You can be the greatest business reporter of all time and find all kinds of amazing facts about companies or the economy. But unless you know how to put those facts together in a compelling series of words and sentences, your work will have gone to waste.”