Public relations firms have long been using storytelling techniques to get their points across, but the use of storytelling in the financial services industry is fresh, effective, and extremely useful. While most financial services companies continue to churn out the same old list of platitudes and numbers, innovative brands in the industry are using proven storytelling techniques to present their services as unique and as more than a standard commodity.

Why Financial Services Businesses Should Be Telling Great Stories

Despite the inherent complexity and diversity of the industry, financial services companies are commonly viewed as being identical to one another. No wonder a banking CEO once remarked that he ‘could put a credit card’ between his organization and his major competitors, so slim was the difference between them.

The use of storytelling can break down the stereotype by humanizing financial service brands and making them emotionally connected to their clients. Instead of losing their attention, you can capture it and keep them engaged. On top of that, storytelling allows you to convey complex information in a way that’s easy to follow and quick to communicate.

What Kinds of Stories to Tell

Stories tap into the hearer’s emotions in a way that no chart or list of financial products can hope to equal. As you amp up your efforts to connect to consumers through stories, set aside any focus on customer service. All banks tend to brag about their customer service, so that no longer differentiates your brand from your competitors. Instead, look for stories that touch your potential customers emotionally. Here are a few ideas:

  • Tap Into the Specifics of Financial Health. Consumers want to have their finances in order, but the pressures of living on a fixed income, planning for retirement, and keeping their credit score healthy can seem overwhelming and unconnected to one another. Help connect your products and services to the understood needs of your customers through telling stories about how they’ve helped others in the same situation.
  • Recognize That Money Is Always Emotional. Financial services companies often tend to think about money in a very abstract, technical way. For your consumers, however, money is always about emotion. A college savings fund isn’t about dollars and cents; it’s about providing a future for their children. A 401(k) is about leading a happy life, about traveling around the world, and about having something to pass on to kids and grandkids. As you tell your marketing stories, realize that emotions are the true bottom line.
  • Forego the Technical Explanations. Once your customer comes into one of your branches or contacts you one-on-one through your website, you’ll have time to walk through the technical aspects of the products they’re interested in. During your marketing efforts, however, content focused on numbers is likely to have prospective customers clicking away from your site.

Successful Storytelling Examples in the Financial Services Industry

Financial services organizations on the cutting-edge of the storytelling wave are finding new ways to position themselves in the marketplace.

The insurance company Hiscox has planted its flag firmly in the storytelling approach with videos that pull on the heartstrings. In many cases, as with their widely viewed “10 Little White Lies of Christmas” video, the company doesn’t even pitch its products, relying on the emotional connection to bring customers back to ask for more.

First Direct Bank in the U.K. is using its commercials to highlight the ways in which financial services companies can be positive for society rather than a necessary evil. Through its campaigns, it has managed to make a personal connection while still introducing some of its unique products.

National Australia Bank (NAB) has created such immense and intense media and social buzz that it is impossible to ignore them. It all started on Valentine’s Day 2011 when NAB declared its intention to ‘break up with other banks’. Central to the campaign was the offer to pay customer fees if they switch mortgages from Commonwealth or Westpac to NAB. Another of its high –profile publicity stunts saw two members of NAB’s banking team tied to a lamppost in Sydney Belmore Park and Melbourne’s Southbank, illustrating the bank’s lack of popularity among its rivals.

By making an emotional connection with consumers through the use of storytelling, you can help guide your customers as they make important financial decisions that will set the direction for their lives and those of their families.