Like most things in life when given the choice to seek the services of a specialist or a jack-of-all trades, most of us would go with the specialist. So we wanted to provide the industry with that choice. 

There are only a few agencies that have held big financial services accounts for long periods of time. Other agencies who are known for FMCG, automotive and retail dip in and out of the finance category. We felt there was a gap in the market and that clients could truly benefit from an agency that has proven credentials in the financial services industry. 

How are marketers getting more bang for their buck?

Australia's financial services marketers have learned a lot from our US and UK colleagues. With bigger markets and therefore bigger budgets, they have the ability to experiment more. Now that marketers have come to terms with the need to invest in big data and the real-time learnings gleaned from the digital channel, we are in a position to be smarter, giving us greater efficiencies with our spend.

Since the economic downturn, financial firms are demanding accountability and demonstrable return on their marketing spend. Direct marketing has always made this possible, but greater data capability and digital solutions now allow marketers to react quickly and dynamically to customer actions and market conditions.

Of course data continues to be a key driver of customer retention. It does this by demonstrating to customers that a brand understands their needs and can provide relevant, timely and often helpful information. 

Every campaign we work on is underpinned by a robust strategy. We identify any business issues along with barriers for consumers to gain the insights needed to find solutions to these barriers. This then determines our strategic approach and what tools will be required to achieve the desired outcomes. We not only interrogate current customer and behavioural data, we also look at what purchased data is available to enrich our insights and opportunities. We also assess if segmentation will drive a better outcome for our communications. Above all, we need to test and learn, so that we are always building knowledge while achieving our clients' desired outcomes and reducing wastage. 

How are marketers driving brand value?

The financial services industry has for the most part been very conservative with their marketing. However appetite is increasing for braver marketing strategies that really differentiate brands and make them more accessible to customers. The competition will only continue to grow, especially among superannuation brands, so marketers know they need to maintain growth to stay alive. Many of the logos and messages we see today are monotone. The lack of differentiation can make it harder for customers to connect with your brand. Brands that reach out and make a connection with consumers will always achieve results regardless of the spend put behind it.  

The Pure Agency is about finding ways to work with legal departments to keep the copy edgy; to not compromise the ideas as so often happens through lack of category understanding. We see this frequently among asset and wealth management brands that have meaningless and generic positioning that give the impression the brand doesn't stand for anything. Brands that are articulated with strong ideas do well. However the majority of marketers are preoccupied with tactical plays and lose sight of their longer-term goals.

What are the top 3 things marketers can do to improve?

Minimising wastage of resources, both internally and externally, is the first step for many firms. A straightforward way to do this is by developing smarter partnerships with appropriately skilled agencies and streamlining internal processes to minimise double handling.

Another issue that needs to be addressed is failing to cross-sell on the one hand or approaching customers in an undisciplined manner on the other. Brands don't just need style guidelines, they also need customer contact frameworks that put discipline around what messages are appropriate for different types of customers, how often they communicate and the manner in which they reach out to customers. Putting parameters around marketing touch-points and clearly prioritising messages can reduce costs and better target audiences. It also allows brands to build on a story rather than tactically shooting from the hip just because targets are not being met in a particular portfolio.

Lastly, in many instances brands have limited budgets yet still feel the need to advertise across all media platforms. This is destined to fail because each platform requires a properly targeted strategy. Clients should feel confident in picking a few platforms to focus on to maximise their acquisition and cross-sell tactics as part of a cohesive strategy that drives brands forward, helping them to differentiate.

Interview with Margot Cotter-Melton, Managing Partner of The Pure Agency.  Conducted by Leonie Phillips, Director at Thought Broker.