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What happens in Vegas shouldn’t stay in Vegas: Our key takeaways from the Financial Brand Forum 2022


Members of the Lewis team recently attended the Financial Brand Forum in Las Vegas, where a lot of great information was shared. Here are our key findings.

53% of U.S. adults say their bank doesn’t offer any unique value. (Source: Forrester)

Value proposition is always important. But by focusing on themselves, businesses can often lose sight of the purpose of that proposition and, ultimately, the people on the receiving end of it.

At the Financial Brand Forum, Omar Johnson, former CMO at Beats by Dre and former VP Marketing at Apple, urged businesses to remember that there is a human on the other side of what they’re selling. As a business, rather than framing up your offerings in terms of B to C or B to B, consider the “B to H” or “business to human” aspect of creating unique value.

This requires a really deep understanding of what actually matters to an audience. It’s not just what you think is important to them or what you do really well — it’s what they expect, what they want and what they need.

Margaret Shaul, Senior Strategist at Lewis, delves into this and offers deeper meaning for each.

“When we say ‘what they expect,’ we’re talking about the table stakes that you need to remain competitive. Whatever your competition is doing, (it’s) at least making sure that you are on par with what's going on.

When we say, ‘what they need,’ we’re talking about the things you need to provide to make sure your customers can effectively do business with you.” To uncover what that might be, it’s a great idea to look at feedback. As author, entrepreneur and marketing expert Jay Baer mentioned at the Financial Brand Forum: ‘Hug your haters.’ There’s a lot to be learned from negative feedback.”

And finally, what do your customers want? “Wants are really needs that you can anticipate for your customers,” Shaul says. “These are things they might not be able to articulate in feedback or they don’t even know could be possible.”

Shaul says Lewis always encourages its clients to look outside of their category.“ Is there anything you can learn from other service industries that you could bring into the financial world? The more you can find opportunities to provide something that’s unique to the experience, the more unique value you create for your customers and the more likely it is that you can get ahead of your competition.”

Fewer than .5% of financial institutions use their data to power business insights.
(Source: PwC)

“Everyone has data and we assume they're looking at it,” says Katie Peninger, VP Account Service at Lewis. “But there's a big difference between a data point and a data insight, and data is really only as good as what you do with it.”

And it goes beyond the “how you use it” aspect: It’s also important for businesses to make sure they are communicating their information to the appropriate teams. Another important aspect is making sure there is a healthy mix of first- and third-party data.

“First party data helps you really understand your customer and understand how your business is performing,” says Peninger. “Third party data helps you fill in any gaps.”

When considering first-party data, it’s important to make sure there is regular time set up to explore the data, as opposed to just reporting on it. Also, it’s always a great idea to make it a collaborative process — bringing in people from multiple disciplines to add their perspective and point of view to the data to potentially see things that may be missed. The same principle applies to external partners, too.

“Don’t hoard your data,” says Peninger. “Make sure you’re considering which of your outside partners would benefit greatly from having access to that data — securely and ethically, of course.”

Traditional banks are trusted, but not differentiated. (Source: Forrester)

Industries with the highest need for consumer trust (financial services, healthcare, insurance, etc.) often take a serious, almost stoic approach to their marketing.

“It’s to the point where really it’s all becoming homogenized: the names, the logos, the messaging, it’s all starting to blur together,” says Shaul. “There’s actually a name for this: symbolic isomorphism. It’s something organizations need to be mindful of.”

Shaul goes on to say: “You can signal you’re in a category without falling victim to category tropes. It’s extremely important to do so. Humans are hardwired to notice things (that are) different from their surroundings. A great example of this: Chiquita bananas. That blue sticker really helps draw the eye and makes you notice them.”

When it comes to differentiation, there are three key pieces: who you are, what you do, and how you do it.

“We work with our clients to make sure they understand what these truly are for their organization and help find new ways to make them more distinctive, memorable and, of course, trustworthy,” says Shaul.

80% of banks think they deliver a superior customer experience. 8% of customers agree. (Source: Bain)

“We all have a tendency to overestimate ourselves — it’s human nature,” says Peninger. “But your reality doesn’t matter if it does not match your customers’ perception of you.”

When it comes to customer experience, there are two very important parts: value and consistency — and you need to have both.

Identifying your customer’s values, wants and needs is the first step. Making sure you’re delivering on them consistently is the second.

“To help our clients start to improve their customer experiences, we first look at the data,” says Peninger. “We try to understand friction points along the customer journey — and then help eliminate them. Second, we look at our clients’ competition. We want to really understand what they are doing and see what our clients could be doing better. Ultimately, we help our clients really understand their audience. We push them to dig past those satisfaction surveys to really talk to their customers and understand the human story there.”

  • Finance
  • Finance Marketing
  • Financial Brand Forum