Financial advertising: how to stand out from the crowd

Louise Stevens

Client Services and Operations Director

Posted on June 27, 2016

Let’s conduct a quick experiment. Find yourself a financial publication and, flicking through, quickly stick a post-it note over the brand name featured on each financial advertisement.

Then turn back to the beginning and look again.

You’ll probably spot common themes as you turn from advert to advert. The same imagery, same colours, the same ideas. But what’s worse is you’ll likely have instantly forgotten the brand behind each one.

The problem with financial advertisements

Financial adverts these days are beginning to blend into a blur of generic slogans and clichéd imagery: cityscapes, chess pieces, cogs, and an over-abundance of similar-looking icons.

We feel a lot of sympathy for financial services firms trying to navigate the advertisement playing field. It’s hard to be creative in a complex market, and with weighty repercussions if you put out something non-compliant, it’s no wonder there’s a slight edge of anxiety and playing-it-safe about the whole business.

However, in our experiment, if you did come across an advertisement that did something new, that’s likely the one that jumped off the page and stuck with you. And if it got your attention, it will have got the attention of your potential customers, too.

Doing something different is possible, but how can you steer your business away from same-old and into new territory?

How to break the mould

The secret to confidence and success in financial advertising is to seek out the specialists. Smaller, specialist financial services marketing agencies, like Talisman, can offer a few things that general ad agencies can’t.

Here are four things to look for:

1. An agency that understands FCA compliance

Generalist agencies may rely on you to provide FCA compliance guidance, and if you or they don’t have the experience or skill, your adverts will be weaker for it.

What we see all too often is advertisement copy and design get muddled and muddied with the kitchen-sink equivalent of product information and compliance language – if your agency isn’t sure what to include, it tends to all get stuffed in there.

But if an ad agency goes too far the other way, the dangers are worse. You wouldn’t think non-compliant advertisements would get signed off these days, but they do. In an effort to be creative, it’s all too easy for an uneducated agency to be subtlely misleading in its wording and design.

A specialist agency, on the other hand, can support and advise clients on how to make ads that are simple, creative and compliant. We know how to use design to complement financial compliance considerations, not fight against them.

These informed design decisions mean you can have confidence that your ad is going to stand out without getting you in hot water.

2. An agency with informed ideas

In advertising, short, punchy headlines, and use of text hierarchy and visual ‘hotspots’ on the page work well, but without a confident understanding of the financial industry, it’s all too easy for generalist agencies to miss what makes your product really shine.

A specialist financial marketing agency understands your customers and your products inside out. This makes it far easier for us to create succinct, easy-to-read content that hones in on the specific pain points and product benefits that will resonate most strongly with your customers.

A specialist industry is also more likely to know what your competitors are doing. A generalist agency might think that flag image looks great, but we know that it’s already been done over and over.

Because we understand the finer points of your products, we can suggest more intelligent, original visual metaphors and headlines.

3. An agency that doesn’t charge the earth for resizing

Once your creative is spot-on, if a late advertisement space suddenly becomes available, you need to be able to jump on the opportunity. Whatever your agency tells you, it shouldn’t cost £500-£1,000 to resize a press advert from A4 to A5, and any good specialist agency should agree.

Resizing for last minute release is a simple job, and in the right hands can be done in under an hour. Look for an agency that offers cost-effective resizing so you don’t end up blowing your budget unnecessarily.

4. An agency that will manage your media schedule

Specialist agencies are well-placed to take over the management of your financial advertising strategy in its entirety.

Rather than having to go back and forth for approvals and get stuck in a dance of who’s responsible for what, a specialist agency can take charge. They’ll manage your media schedule and ensure adverts are approved by the right people, ahead of time, saving you energy and stress.

5. Finding the right help

As a specialist financial services marketing agency ourselves, we’d love to help you create advertisements that leap off the page, but we know that choosing an agency is a big decision. Take a look at our free, downloadable guide to help you make a confident choice.