Advertising Financial Products in 2023 – Where to Begin?

A tough economy makes for a tougher audience, but there are surprisingly simple – and affordable – steps you can take to make meaningful connections

By Alyssa Grecco Evensen, Media Director, Crispin Porter Bogusky

Financial institutions seeking customers for accounts are, often, working within rather tight time frames. The target audiences for these accounts, however, can be hesitant: recent entrants to the workforce, newlyweds and young parents being encouraged for the first time to consider investments like IRAs and 529s can frequently be unsure of how, or if, to proceed.

Set this scenario to the backdrop of a poor economy and the challenge becomes daunting, indeed. These young prospective investors often struggle to understand what to do with their money in the best of times, and with the threat of layoffs and lingering inflation, they’re more inclined not to do anything at all. A bad economy also commonly has a chilling effect on outreach to these audiences: when money is tight, marketing budgets are frequently the first to be slashed.

This perfect storm leaves financial advertisers with hard conversion goals that, in the best case, will see a smaller return than previous years, and in the worst, may simply not be met. The solutions require a fresh mindset and creative approach to marketing tactics.

The first important step is an understanding that a down economy is when marketing is most important. This may seem counterintuitive, but it can be an advantage when the team realizes most of their competitors are pumping the brakes on marketing and they can use campaigns to acquire more share-of-voice in the marketplace. Even more important, this is the time when the consumer most needs to hear from you: there will be lots of confusion, concerns and questions about the right financial move to make when money is tight and prices are increasing. You can provide a calm voice of wisdom and counsel, and your products and services can receive more  attention as a result. Even if your audience isn’t ready to act right away, they’ll appreciate the advice and then when funds do come available, they’ll better know what to do with them and remember you when they’re ready to invest.

The second thing to realize is that younger audiences – those most sought to start investing – can be distrusting of big brands and large advertisers. So young Millenials and Gen-Z are groups that advertisers particularly need to build trust with. It starts with messaging that conveys an understanding of the consumer’s pain points, coupled with an offer to help. This approach  is often skipped in favor of low-cost tactics like display banners, which not only fail to connect with the audience, but can often remind them of the struggle they’re enduring.

Employed properly,  an educational initiative can serve to both convince your audience that you have their best interests at heart and that a certain product is the best long-term value. And the good news: there are awareness tactics that can be activated on a fairly low budget:

  • Contextual Alignment: Deploying standard assets alongside relevant financial editorial can align brand messaging in environments where users are actively seeking information, which can be cost effective through programmatic partners such as Bidtellect or Grapeshot.
  • Syndicating Content: Developing blog posts for your website not only boosts your SEO, they can be repurposed with well-known publishers to further your message and position your brand as a thought leader in the space.
  • Rich Media: Working with rich media partners can differentiate your creative from standard assets without needing a huge creative overhaul – oftentimes these units are dynamic and highly informative, utilizing existing content and creative elements to construct a new eye-catching unit.
  • Social Media: Organic and paid social media can connect to the core audience and tell the brand story.
  • Video: If assets already exist, they can provide an easy and cost-effective way to increase awareness through activation on YouTube, social media and even Advanced TV

There are other tactics, of course, that might be more costly, but can be highly effective, such as an influencer campaign with a money-conscious creator, sponsorship of local events, or developing a content series with a publisher that targets your audience.

If budgets allow, these should be part of the strategy, but as long as you’re doing at least something to talk to your audience in a meaningful – and helpful – way, that’s a great step in the right direction.