Experiential marketing for mortgage providers

Banks building societies and mutual funds worldwide are wrestling with the challenge of how to connect with a market that has become leery of traditional marketing approaches. As consumers tune out of TV, radio, print and outdoor advertising, experiential marketing has become the tool of choice for the finance industry. The mortgage sector is no exception. Read on to find out how a professionally managed event can drive sales leads and smooth the path to lodgement.

Events are now integral to finance marketing, even for industry titans with traditional marketing campaigns that are not merely successful but arguably iconic.

“Connecting with consumers is becoming a huge issue. The information overload is humungous. When consumers are saying that they hate your ads to still keep on putting the same old ads in front of them is probably a little insane.” So said Raja Rajamannar, Mastercard’s Chief Marketing and Communications Officer at an advertising conference in late 2018. Priceless.

Mortgage providers have more to gain from this shift to direct interaction with clients than most other parts of the finance sector, or indeed most other businesses.

Selecting a mortgage provider is a major life choice for most people. There is an anxiety barrier that traditional marketing tools struggle to overcome. Billboards and banner ads may plant a seed of awareness for the fleeting moment they have someone’s attention, but they cannot build trust.

Much of the anxiety comes from a lack of financial literacy and not knowing what the options are. By hosting an event you create opportunities to both increase customer confidence through education and to build trust. Specifically, trust in you and your brand.

From a return-on-investment perspective experiential marketing pays off especially well in the mortgage space for a very simple and obvious reason: people talk about their lives, and mortgages are big part of many peoples’ lives. Conversations about money have always been had with friends at the kitchen table, around the water cooler at work. Now they can also be broadcast over social media. Of course, people typically aren’t talking about their home loan options on Facebook. Why is that? People talk about their lives, but they are far more likely to talk about things they have done, or places they have been than what mortgage ads they have seen that day.

Through experiential marketing mortgage providers have a way to be part of people’s lives in a way that adds value to their business.

There are plentiful examples of financial institutions using experiential marketing to reconnect with customers.

Canada’s Tangerine took a leaf out of book retail’s own book and ran pop-up cafes in their branches across the country. The cafes each ran some six to nine months yielding faster sign-on of new customers and increased brand recognition.

Australia’s Suncorp Bank tried a different approach with their “Discovery Stores” which they describe as “an immersive retail experience, where they can attend live events, interactive workshops and explore solutions for their different life journeys.”

Perhaps most notably, Citigroup have built what amounts to one of the largest entertainment empires in the United States through their Citi Private Pass program providing loyal customers with exclusive opportunities, early access, and preferred seating to sports, theatre, dining, music events.

 

Replicating these successes is

  1. Set your objectives and make sure both your event producer and your marketing team are on the same page. The event should be fun for the guests, but you are doing this because you want sales leads and ideally increased lodgements. What sort of finance are you selling and who are you selling it too? The answers to these determine how you go about everything else.Your experiential marketing should be an integral part of your broader marketing strategy and, if possible, build on your previous investments in other channels. Speaking of investments….
  2. Set your budget. With your objectives set, it is time to get into hard figures. Specific ROI can be difficult to measure for events, however this does not mean anything goes. Far from it. Sane Events Group recommends using ROO (Return On Objectives) as the metric for success. Your event planner will work with you to identify how best to go about this. It is important to be aware not all event planners are equally adept at working with all types of client. You should look for one who not only has a good reputation but actively seeks to work with finance industry clients. A good place to start is by reading event industry blogs. Good work on getting going with that already!
  3. Choose your date and time of day with consideration for your location and demographic. If you’ve decided young families looking to get escape the rental market are who you are selling to, 2:30PM on a school day is probably not the best time for your event. You also need to be aware of other things happening locally at the same time that may be competing for the same audience. This is where it really pays to work with a good event producer. They will know what is happening around town and be able to help you fix a date that works.
  4. Reach out to your media contacts sooner rather than later (and keep talking to them). Remember journalists have schedules too. Even if they seem uninterested, they will appreciate the fact that you thought of them. Many will still make a note of it in their dairy even if they do not plan to attend. Minds may change if you succeed in drumming up a buzz elsewhere. Even if not, you may yet benefit from a slow news week in the industry.
  5. Choose the right venue. Your venue needs to synch with your brand and the demographic you are targeting. It also needs to be a close fit to the expected number of guests. Too large and you don’t get the “buzz” effect which eases people out of their social barriers and inhibitions. Too small and people will feel uncomfortable. While the goal is to build trust between your brand and prospective mortgage customers, you are also putting a bunch of strangers in a room together. Guests being comfortable with each other is very conducive to them being comfortable with you.
  6. Do not skimp on the catering. If you are going to serve refreshments at your event it is better to overspend than underspend. Running out of drinks and nibbles would be bad at any branded event, it implies miserliness on the part of the host. You are trying to convince people of your ability to get them on the property ladder, so you really do want to avoid this particular faux pas.
  7. People like free stuff, so give it to them. To reinforce the last point, always send people away with some tangible memento of the experience. Ideally it will be something that ties into the theme of your event. Unlike catering however, creativity and novelty matters more here than lavishness.
  8. Be ready to be social online and in-person. Many of us have a bad habit of thinking of social media and in-the-flesh interaction as existing in some sort of mutually exclusive duality. Your event is the time to break that habit and get maximum leverage out of both. Have guests pitch their questions for speakers via a twitter hashtag. Photobooths are another taggable experience that seems to have an almost magical allure for many people. Make sure to be generous with the likes and compliments!

This is also an opportunity make use of your team’s interpersonal skills. You may have team members who have stood out to you as particularly socially adept. This of course likely played a role in their being hired in the first place. They might not work for you in a sales role, but experiential marketing is not about the hard sell. Also consider whose particular life experience enhances their relatability to the guest demographic. It pays to know your people.

 

At Sane Events Group we create unique, innovative and memorable event experiences specifically tailored to deliver Return on Objectives for our financial industry clients. Contact our expert team to find out how we can connect you with your future customers.