Financial services marketing — from local banks to stock markets — has long relied on the power of “community”, using the idea of collective engagement to drive revenue growth.
Brand communities have evolved from a mere marketing trend into a fundamental strategy for finance companies to grow and retain customers. Establishing an authentic brand community is challenging, especially in a saturated media environment.
As PR and marketing experts specialising in this sector, we recognise that success hinges on a strategic approach, focusing on understanding where and how these communities engage.
How can you build and maintain a community around your brand?
The Power of Social Media in Building Brand Communities
Although finance is often seen as driven by numbers and analysis, elements like trust and belonging are crucial in financial decision-making. By cultivating a brand community, financial institutions can create an environment where clients feel valued as essential members. This fosters a sense of shared goals and mutual prosperity.
Social media is, naturally, a crucial site of communal connection. According to this brand loyalty study, more than half of customers who follow a brand on social media are significantly more loyal to that brand.
Online brand communities offer more than just a way to build loyalty; they're also a cost-effective substitute for traditional customer research. Companies that engage with these communities gain access to a wealth of data and insights. This information is invaluable for refining strategies, updating products or services, and understanding consumer behaviours.
More than just saving on the expense of external research, this direct engagement strengthens the customer-company bond, which is a key driver of business growth.
The Art of Audience Engagement
Establishing a brand community in finance starts with understanding your audience and crafting the right message. Nurturing conversations and interactions between customers and between customers and your company is crucial for community development. Thought leadership content gives brands the ability to make bold, unique moves amongst the competition, paving the way for innovative thinking and fresh perspectives.
At the core of any lasting brand community is a positive, affirming customer experience. Creating a welcoming space for open dialogue, backed by customer support and effective crisis management, is essential to uphold and improve the brand's reputation.
The Impact of Brand Community as Lead Generation
Think of your brand community as an extension of your existing network. Each member, either as a customer or prospective lead, contributes tangible value. Their maintained loyalty can develop as a powerful catalyst for organic referral and expansion, contributing to your sales pipeline.
Risk Consideration and Management
A strong brand community within financial services is a double-edged sword. While it can quickly grow a business to peak success, it can contribute to a rapid downfall too. Swift losses of trust can severely damage a brand's reputation — there’s nothing as powerful as betrayal.
The collapses of leaders like Elizabeth Holmes and firms such as FTX show the fragility of brand trust amid unethical practices. Conversely, Silicon Valley Bank's downfall illustrates the industry's susceptibility to operational crises like bank runs. These examples show the importance of upholding ethical standards and implementing effective crisis management to maintain a brand's integrity, especially when it involves the financial well-being of consumers.
How to get your Brand Community started
Locate Your Existing Community: Start by performing an internal audit of your communication channels and customer feedback to understand your audience's history and decide on the direction forward.
Develop Engaging Content: Create compelling content that resonates with your audience, igniting conversations and setting the stage for active engagement.
Apply Two-Way Communication: Begin interacting on your content and facilitate a dialogue with community members, allowing for valuable insights.
Host Community Events: Organise events, both in-person and online, to keep the community engaged and encourage growth through referrals and promotions.
Scale Your Community: With the groundwork in place, expand your brand community in a way that aligns with your business objectives and current market position.
For financial services brands, brand communities represent a strategic opportunity to forge a deeper connection with their money-savvy audience. It's an investment (no pun intended) in a growth-focused future, built on trust and shared expertise, to allow financial brands to stay resilient and relevant in a competitive and risky market.
In Australia, notable brand community success stories include Commonwealth Bank's CommBank app, which has created a digital community for users to manage their finances and gain financial literacy. Similarly, Afterpay transformed retail finance by building a community around a unique payment plan experience, integrating shopping and budgeting into their customers' lifestyles.
As a PR agency, we're here to help you emulate success stories like these and guide you through creating a brand community for your company. One that not only listens but participates and grows with you, where your customers become advocates and your services, experiences.
To discover how our team of experts assists financial services in connecting with their customers, please contact us here!