Legal & General: sliding past difficult subjects

Financial services provider Legal & General cleverly raises an issue that lots of us would prefer not to think about – how long would your money last if something unexpected happened to either you or your partner?

It does this by tackling the subject head-on, using a simple slider format.

This focuses on the technical and financial aspects of the topic, removing a lot of the negative connotations around it, while conveying enough warmth and humanity to keep the content accessible.

Key takeaway: are there alternative ways to present content that could otherwise be off-putting to the customer?

Even the most disconcerting of topics can be made palatable with a simple, accessible treatment. checking the mortgage needs of first-time buyers defines itself as a one-stop source of experienced, regulated and independent financial advisers and mortgage brokers.

To support these advisers, it created a downloadable checklist aimed at first-time buyers who are unsure of what they need to do get the mortgage they want.

The ultimate aim is to steer young people towards seeking financial or mortgage advice by highlighting the questions they may not realise they need to ask, and then giving them a simple solution: ask your adviser.

When faced with applying for a mortgage, many people feel they need direction, but don’t know where to turn. This checklist empowers them, providing the questions they need to ask in an accessible way.

Key takeaway: make life as easy as possible for your potential consumers – doing the hard work for them means they don’t have to do a lot of research themselves to get started.

They can simply make an appointment and take along the checklist. 

Nationwide: kicking off conversations on house prices

It can be hard to keep track of house prices, and even harder to know if you’re getting good value in your area.

To help UK consumers keep abreast of the latest changes, Nationwide used football as a visual metaphor in a House Price League infographic.

Exploring the dry topic of house prices in the form of an infographic immediately brings it to life, and taps into the sense of drama and suspense that makes football so exciting.

The concept initially sparks intrigue (‘Football house price league? How on earth does that work?’) but once you open the infographic, it’s all easy to understand thanks to the clear layout and smart information design. 

There’s also a bit of an ego nudge going on here to generate self-interest and prompt social shares and online discussion. Is your team (or local area) top of the league? Where are your rivals?

Key takeaway: can you use lateral thinking to link your subject area to something topically unrelated, but with a similar process, structure or form?

What kinds of visual analogy would fit your data or your work? Choose something widely known, but different enough from your own zone of expertise to create surprise or humour.    

Aldermore: investing in images to tell the facts

Retail bank Aldermore often applies an old-school journalism approach to its copy, using lots of hard facts and stats to make an argument.

That’s great, but sometimes you need to think visually to bring those facts to life. In this example – all about saving money – points are visualised in the shape of an infographic– a design tool that users are very familiar with. 

The copy also draws comparisons using everyday things to give the argument meaning and relevance.

Key takeaway: take a step back from what you’re doing, in this case selling savings products, and give some factual advice about the subject instead.

With facts at their fingertips, an audience can work out for themselves the arguments you’re trying to make. You don’t need to do all the selling. And presenting it in the clear, accessible form of an infographic just makes things even easier.

Premium Bonds: cranking up the storytelling machine

When National Savings and Investments (NS&I) relaunched its site to generate more interest in Premium Bonds, it wanted to prove to users that it was fair.

But, instead of giving all sorts of boring assurances and pledges it told a story – about ERNIE,  the machine that generates the winning premium numbers.

ERNIE, or the Electronic Random Number Indicator Equipment if you prefer, was bestowed with fond, national-treasure status. Customers learned he was invented by one of the original Bletchley Park codebreakers in 1956, and that there have been 4 generations of ERNIEs since. 

Key takeaway: amid all the information about what you do or sell, is there a genuine story or backstory that would extoll your brand values, or explain what you do in a clear, engaging way?

If so, tell it. People will remember you. And like any good story, it will be remembered and retold. 

M&G Investments: bringing a personal touch to a blogging

It’s the quality of writing makes this blog by fund managers from M&G Investments really stand out. Aimed at investment professionals, the content is thoughtful and informed, deploying wide-ranging knowledge to stimulate discussion.

There’s also a touch of humour, too – a rarity in this area. ‘It’s been great to hear the views of our readers,’ writes blog founder Jim Leaviss. ‘In one week alone I was accused of both being an apologist for the US Tea Party and a member of a Marxist sleeper cell’.

Key takeaway: Bond Vigilantes is surprisingly easy to read, proving that you don’t have to hide behind jargon, even when talking to professionals.

It also shows the value of expert content, provided the experts have something to say. 

Barclays: introducing serious interactivity to personal finance

Barclay’s Financial Personality Assessment tool, which is essentially a quiz to determine your attitudes towards saving,  is a clever way of adding interactivity without compromising the site’s tonal gravitas.

Tapping into personal motivations engages the user on a deeper level. The data capture form is subtly placed at the end of the process.

Key takeaway: content like this needs to deliver, which it does: there are several screens of financial personality profiling at the results stage, enough to make the user feel their time investment has paid off.

The focus on the individual helps personalise what can be a dry topic – and this is something that can be emulated in copy, even without a sophisticated tool. 

Retiready: gamifying an online form

You’ve got some pension plans to sell, you’ve got some retirement advice to give – how can you tailor what you offer to the individual requirements of a potential customer?

Just ask them to fill in another boring form?

Pension and ISA provider, Retiready from Ageon, turned its customer profiling form into a game with the Retiready planning tool.

It invites users to find out their score then nudges them towards a dashboard as a reward. It even asks a few fun questions along the way.

Key takeaway: don’t stress out over the fact that the data you need from users is often the data they don’t want to give.

Gamify your profiling forms and data capture tools. Throw in a few small jokes. Make it fun.

NatWest: tackling events with style on social media

While its competitors posted bland images on their Facebook walls or ignored the event altogether, Natwest showed its Facebook followers that it understood them on Mother’s Day.

By compiling a cute list in the form of a receipt that shows what it means to be a mum, NatWest displayed empathy for its customers.

And it was all conveyed in a visual way associated with money, and was therefore relevant to a bank.

The post garnered more than 25,000 likes and 4000 shares. Of the hundreds of comments left underneath the post, some customers even went on to tell their own stories of what they did on Mother’s Day.

Key takeaway: spend time tailoring your content to an event. If you can make it relevant to your brand you will reap the rewards.

Consider what would matter most to your target audience, the experiences they might have had, and how you can reflect these in an innovative, engaging way. 

Our new Implementing Content Strategy: Digital Best Practice report, written by experienced consultant Dr Mike Baxter, provides a framework for evaluating your current content strategy and content planning processes, helping you make the most of your content in the future.

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