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As they set out on a new year, there are so many choices ahead for financial technology companies. There have just been two years where plans have been severely disrupted by the pandemic, forcing dynamic changes in approach and strategy. 

For those in the marketing department, expectations to attract new business carries on, despite any new variants. Marketers need to develop agile strategies that feed the sales pipeline and ensure existing customers stay put. This is increasingly tricky as more and more dynamic startups enter, promising innovation at lower price points. 

To better understand how some of the best and brightest minds in the industry are tackling these problems, we at Cognito spoke to more than 75  in-house marketing and communications leaders during the autumn. They came from throughout the financial technology sector and span the globe from EMEA, the U.S. and APAC. 

Respondents were asked about how they planned to address strategic businesses challenges and their views on marketing tactics and channels. 

More money, more resources

Businesses are ready to allocate more to marketing. More than 85% of respondents said accelerating growth was their top priority, and organizations are allocating more resources to fund these ambitions. Nearly 40% of respondents said they expected marketing spending to rise more than 20% this forthcoming year, with another 20% planning for a rise of between 10% and 20%. 

This means more money to spend, but there are so many different ways it can be spent. We found after cancellations and delays, people unsure if events were a wise area to put more investment. On the other hand content and thought leadership does show value. Nearly seven and 10 people said they planned to spend more there this year. 

We understand the logic. Speaking to people in the industry, where exactly to reach customers has gotten more splintered as behaviors and routines become more individualized. Content once produced can be adapted for distribution directly on email, through social media or in the form of a blog or piece of contributed content. 

As for what form a piece of content should take, short form blog posts and articles were cited as the most effective format based on recent experience, followed by interactive digital experiences, animated videos and infographics. This generally means pieces with a single controlling idea that can be consumed in a couple of minutes. Provide ways for a prospect to learn more if they want, but don’t set too high of a demand up front. 

As for what messages people need to get to audiences, ESG standards and sustainability (75%) and cybersecurity are increasing (65%) in importance for the vast majority of respondents, followed by workforce diversity and inclusion (56%) and cloud (56%). If none of these are terribly surprising, it speaks to the fact that challenges raised in previous years in this area haven’t fully been solved or people feel pressure to improve their offering. 

The importance of media 

This focus on content hasn’t come at the expense of coverage from reporters and in business and trade publications. Earned media coverage was the most important element of marketing and communications campaigns, with 70% saying it was “extremely” or “very” important to their efforts. 

The Financial Times was cited as the most important media outlet or segment, handily outranking The Wall Street Journal, which was second most commonly cited. Trade and speciality media trailed behind but were very important to a plurality of users. This is something very much varies by company and their area of focus.

One area that is not seen as a business driver is internal communications, which was ranked as the lowest area of focus and least likely to receive more funding in the year ahead. 

See for yourself

There’s plenty more in the whole report. The full report is available here and for free download. 

Jon Schubin is a director in the London office