This was the conclusion of a roundtable session titled 'Winning at scalable content marketing' during which 10 senior marketers from prominent financial institutions, including UBS, Nomura, Credit Suisse and Axa, shared ideas and best practices around the challenges they face. The discussion, which was sponsored by Williams Lea Tag, took place over lunch on 5 November, during Campaign Asia-Pacific’s Financial Services Marketing forum. It was moderated by Will Clem, managing editor of Campaign Asia-Pacific.
The participants generally agreed that great content is relevant to the target audience, localised, informative, entertaining and well distributed. So, what’s holding these marketers back?
1. Misaligned goals
Too often, content is pumped out to satisfy internal stakeholders rather than the target consumer, pointed out Seraphina Wong, regional head of advertising for UBS Asia-Pacific. “When this happens, you’ll find through social listening and tracking that relating results back to business objectives is hard because the campaign is delinked from the corporation’s KPIs and objectives.”
Wong: Too often, content is pumped out to satisfy internal stakeholders rather than the customer
There is a need for internal education to get bankers to understand why content is a good idea, agreed Natalie Bennett, head of strategic marketing and communications, Asia-Pacific for Credit Suisse.
2. Strict brand guidelines
Very often, ideas that would succeed in a local context may be turned down due to the strict, but often necessary, brand guidelines laid down by the global office. However, as regional ‘brand police’, it is up the Asia-Pacific teams to make the call.
Leung: Regional teams have to balance corporate guidelines with local needs
“Sometimes, local offices ask permission to run an unbranded viral video to engage customers and drive viewership for branded content,” shared Mabel Leung, regional head of brand and insights for regional marketing at AXA Asia. “I thought, is this their way of trying to get away from the brand guidelines? Or is there a good case for this? Last year, we gave one in Indonesia a chance to try this out and it turned out to be highly successful. We’ve since made this a case study.”
3. Global versus local
Big global campaigns don’t always play well to every market, and it’s a challenge for local teams to make the idea work.
“Content that comes from the top can be very structured and complied—you can't roll it out quickly and localise,” observed Tricia Koh, head of value proposition and marketing for Generali Asia. “There is often a fine line between what the company wants and making it relevant for the region. It’s very rare that something that came through global comms is relevant to local markets and the region.”
Koh: Fine line between what the company wants and what is relevant
A strategy adopted by Koh has been to consider the clients rather than the markets when it comes to choosing the best content to deploy locally. “Our approach is to put the clients first. To say, ‘These are your problems, and we know you need help'."
Sometimes, it’s a matter of “tailoring the markets to the content”, suggested Erin Choi, VP and head of marketing for global corporate and investment banking at BAML Asia-Pacific. Whether it’s a case of priming the market for discussion, or taking what you’re given and deploying it where it’s most relevant. “To make sure you deliver relevant content, you think about the clients and geographies to drive the strategy.”
4. Regulations and compliance
A major creative limitation that was on everyone’s mind at not only the roundtable but also the forum was the challenge of satisfying regulations across every market. “At Samsung Asset Management our work is partly to do with the corporate brand and partly to do with products,” shared Louis Poon, marketing director. “The regulation guidelines for both are very different but equally long. Designing a promotional clip is often about counting the number of seconds you need for the disclaimer and working with whatever time you have remaining.”
Poon: A promotional clip is often about counting the number of seconds you need for the disclaimer and working with whatever time you have remaining
Even neighbouring markets can vary greatly. “Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan are all completely different," Poon added. "Taiwan requires lots of disclaimers in bright colours, this makes content marketing kind of difficult.”
The need to check everything with compliance tends to slow things down—a problem for a field heading towards an always-on, real-time strategy.
In an ideal situation, marketing gets an eight- to 10-week period to develop a corporate branding campaign. “We took time-frame to go through headlines and approvals, generate content with statements we thought we would say, and serendipitously, the day the deal was signed was the day all this was ready and we were spot on,” said Alison Harbert, head of branding and marketing for Nomura Asia-Pacific, excluding Japan. “But that was a one-in-a-million chance and you usually can’t plan these things.”
A library of media assets that have been pre-approved and can be drawn on when relevant is a solution for Generali Asia’s Koh. “Because everything’s been signed off and complied, whatever comes through we can adapt and use what we have.”
When maintaining a library of content, however, it’s important to have secure sign-ins for relevant parties and to ensure the content doesn’t get too old, cautioned UBS’ Wong. “Once it’s out there it’s advice, and people will take it as UBS’ branded advice. We could seriously hurt the brand.”
5. Budget and resources
Not even marketers for the financial giants have all the budget they could wish for. Furthermore, resources are often too limited to localise or translate content. “Ideally we should, where it makes sense," shared Bennett from Credit Suisse. "Having said that, we will be producing an English and Chinese version of our flagship video for the China Investment Conference."
Bennett: With limited resources and budget we usually don’t attempt to localise or translate content, but ideally we should where it makes sense
Getting funding to market landmark projects is often doable. It’s the everyday that can be challenging, pointed out Cecilica Chung, director of marketing and communications for research firm Morningstar. “For a global survey we roll out once every two years, we were able to send local spokespersons to CNBC or other local press. We also held conferences to share localised results in the local language… but this would be challenging to do this on a regular basis.”