It’s been said a thousand times, 2020 has been unpredictable and unforgiving. This post, however, is not about 2020, it’s about looking forward to 2021 and, dare we say it, beginning to predict what tools we might need to include in our arsenal for the coming year. 

We’ve gathered insight from our clients, and the Financial Services industry as a whole, and have compiled the five key activities that every Financial Services business should do now, to supercharge their marketing in 2021. 

Plan for Q1, but plan to have a plan that changes


One thing that will remain certain, especially for early 2021, is uncertainty – the most effective marketing plans will be built to be fluid,  flexible and adaptable. Now is the time to be planning for next year, but it’s really worth building these plans with flexibility at the core – that way change can be easily navigated.

When Covid struck and the country came to a stand-still, there was a wide-spread feeling of uncertainty both around people’s personal finances as well as the wider economy. For Financial Services companies, this presented an opportunity to step in and provide assurances and insight. 

Starling Bank ran a content series offering money management and financial advice to those who had been furloughed. Moneyhub Enterprise, on other hand, made their unique insights available in the form of a spending tracker – monitoring the habits and trends of users and allowing businesses to see where and how people are spending (or not spending) and plan around this. 

More broadly, when it comes to making these plans, don’t put all your eggs in one basket – as we’ve seen, anything could scupper this. In terms of execution, consumers need brands they can trust more than ever. A number of 2020’s challenges are likely to remain well into next year and beyond, so smart FS brands will continue to step in and help the consumer navigate through this difficult time.

Focus on ROI

In all likelihood, a lot of brands will be working with smaller budgets going into 2021, so keeping a close eye on the bottom line and ensuring shrinking budgets are being put to best use will be more imperative than ever.  Any good marketeer will always be focussed on the performance – now is absolutely the right time to report back on 2020’s performance in detail ahead of next year. Marketing budgets are essential for business success, although can often be the first for the chop. Taking the time now to look back on this year will help bolster the likelihood of a stronger budget as we go into 2021.

For smaller brands, no matter which channels of distribution make up your marketing mix, ensure you are able to track each pound back to the source. This may mean spending more time in your website analytics or planning campaigns differently, to ensure that each member of the team is working towards a common ROI based objective. 

More broadly, a lot of brands (particularly in the FS space) will work across different platforms and systems and these may not talk to each other. Of course, with any business, we have a range of disparate systems that don’t necessarily speak to each other – this again comes back to planning. Start now, create a plan, along with other stakeholders, your marketing team, agency or partners and decide which goals are most  important to you and how they can most accurately be tracked and begin to get those systems in place. 

Say Thank You

It’s been a shocker of a year, but we’ve all muddled through and we’ve muddled through together. That has been one positive outcome of 2020 – a growing sense of community and camaraderie. 

This has been reflected in the business world too. Businesses who have taken care of their staff and their customers have been rewarded and those who have not have had their cards marked. More broadly, research from summer this year shows that Financial Services brands are the least trusted brands by customers – although there are exceptions. FS brands that take a personal approach can foster a brilliant relationship with customers.

As the year draws to a close, take the time to say thank you to staff, clients, partners and customers that have stuck with you over the year. Those two words go a long way!

Diversify your content 

There is, and always has been, a huge opportunity for brands in so-called ‘low interest’ categories to rise above the noise by pushing boundaries and going against the grain. This is particularly true as we end the year with people looking for something to make them feel good – and to draw a line under the ‘business as usual’ of 2020.

Brands in sectors like insurance, energy, banking, medical, law and so on are bound unnecessarily by un-written, and frankly antiquated, rules of branding and marketing. Each with a similar look, similar fonts, similar messaging and similar marketing tactics. 

However, when a brave marketing manager bends these rules and gets it right, the result is often unparalleled, break-away growth. We should see more of it. 

Going into 2021, the stage is set. We’re already seeing a rising trend in comical or satirical ads, in place of emotional or aspirational ones, Tesco’s ‘No naughty list’ for instance. 

And we’ve all seen it happen on the big stage in markets like insurance,  with ‘Compare the Meerkat’ all those years ago, or more recently in the energy sector, with Good Energy.

It comes down to idea generation and creativity and the possibilities for creativity right now, particularly in the FS space, are quite literally endless. So, be brave, do something different and push the boundaries in 2021. 

Look for growth in growing areas 

Before you stop reading, this is not a section about how crucial it is to join TikTok, immediately. That being said, the media landscape is constantly changing, so new mediums online and offline are worth at the very least investigating – now is the time to consider what ‘new’ things you’re going to do next year. Key media channels have seen real growth this year, December affords some time to stop and reflect on what others have seen work, and to weave these into your plans for 2021.

Let’s take podcasts as an example, there are currently more than 850,000 active podcasts available to listen to, and 6.5 million (or 12% of adults in the UK) listen to podcasts every week.  

Podcasts work in the same way as any form of online media, you either create, grow and own the channel as many brands are. This is more time consuming and less direct. Or, you buy media to reach users that might buy from you. 

Podcasts as a form of consumption are growing faster than any other. The targeting is becoming more advanced and best of all, the audience is entirely captive and far less distracted than other online channels. This year saw the launch of dedicated podcasts from Barclays, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, JP Morgan and others.

The old can still be new – Newsletters have seen something of a resurgence in 2020, offering a welcome return to a direct relationship between publisher and reader. The real trend here is moving towards longer form content within the creative itself.. A great example of this is Morning Brew. 

Novel approaches to video-led marketing, podcasts and newsletters are three of many interesting and growing means of distribution, to  unearth new customers and more effectively engage your current customer base in 2021. 

There we have it, five crucial considerations for anybody at the helm of a Financial Services marketing department, ahead of what will hopefully be a fantastic and prosperous year for us all.

We’ve had the pleasure of working with a range of Financial Services Businesses, in the South West and afar. If you are planning now, for 2021 or you are looking to supercharge your marketing, we’d love to help.

Get in Touch