By Leah Brunskill, Marketing Manager, MFS
Financial services marketing can be tricky. With so many lenders in the market, and products being much the same, where do you find your USP?
Yes, your rates could be lower, yes, your wait time could be lower, but eventually a competitor will come along offering loans for less and more quickly. So, without asking quite how they are doing that (that’s potentially a rabbit hole you don’t want to go down) what’s the solution to staying relevant?
The answer? Customer experience.
Whilst this may seem obvious, in finance and particularly bridging lending, where people expect to be in and out fast, customer experience can be put on the backburner for one deal, and then another, and another. Until finally, you’re a faceless company churning out deals as fast as possible to simply get them over the line, and just hoping a client comes back when they need a last-minute solution once again.
Arguably this means you end up with a certain type of client when you bracket your services in this way. ‘A product for the disorganised and scatty’ doesn’t quite hit the mark when you’re thinking of a sophisticated lender with a great track record in the market.
Instead, be a lender where receiving your product and services becomes a pleasure to the client. Yes, their finance is just one part of a longer process that they are working through. But it doesn’t mean that it must become inconsequential. Be a lender where a client will change their process step from ‘Get Bridging Loan’ to ‘Insert company name provide Bridging Loan’. Then when they come back to the start of the process once more, you’re already ingrained, potentially providing your underwriting team with more notice to work with as well.
How do you do that?
Create a bond. Let them know that you care about their project as much as they do. Ask them about it when the transaction is completed. Write about them (with their permission). Ask their opinions. Provide them with education even when they’re not transacting. Answer their questions.
All in all, be human, and provide them with an experience that lets them know that you’re human. Machines don’t work at your company, people do. Show your clients who they are and how they can help them each step of the way – interactive maps that instantly show who their dedicated salesperson might be, profiles on pictures that tell the reader a little something about the staff member outside of work. All these things build up a picture in the client’s mind about who it really is they’re working with, and ultimately creates a relationship.
In a previous role, a client who came in for their initial meeting mentioned to their Financial Advisor that they couldn’t believe he hated marmite, after seeing his Likes and Dislikes on the website. It’s all just small steps towards building rapport.
In my current role I place emphasis on educating potential clients. Financial services historically have made transacting complicated to try and retain custom, but times are changing. With financial advisors now needing to be clear and transparent, why should it be different for non-regulated lending? Provide clients with the basic outline of what your product does and, when they are comfortable with how it works, you may find they’re more comfortable transacting with you too.
Be a leader. You know what you do and how you do it so write reports on your industry area, use the opinions of your clients for the framework of your topics and direction of travel. Also, let your company have an opinion and you’ll find that clients respect that you’re taking a stance. This one may have a two-step approval process however – let’s not just use the highly controversial opinion of one member of staff! (The CEO’s opinion is a good place to start, because as we know, they’re not often wrong when it comes to the opinion of their business).