Here are four things financial services companies should aim for when they produce their own content:

Build Trust And Credibility

Piggy bank on laptopNowhere is trust and credibility more important than in financial services.

Banks, super funds, insurers and accountants are all asking consumers and businesses to trust them with their dreams, be they home ownership, a comfortable retirement, or a bigger business.

And that’s why financial services companies have so much to gain from producing quality content.

If these companies produce content that is informative and honest, their brands will be enhanced. Consumers will think of them as more trustworthy than those competitors who only talk at them about how terrific their products are.

This doesn’t mean being self-critical, but it does mean, for example, acknowledging that not all products are suitable for all customers and that there are potential pitfalls with some products. This sort of content also leads to better informed consumers who will make better decisions and be less expensive to acquire and to maintain.

Show They’re Listening

A common complaint about banks and insurance companies is they don’t listen.

The criticism is unfair. Financial services companies devote a lot of resources to understanding their customers, but the perception remains.

Financial services companies should take that vast reservoir of information they have about their customers and use it to create useful content which addresses their needs and wants.

The key – as it is with all content marketing – is to provide content which your customers want to read, not what you want to tell them about. Where do they need help with their personal finances? What are the questions they’re asking about insurance or home mortgages? What sort of information could help them manage their money better?

Businesses customers can benefit from the same sort of approach. What sort of information do businesses need about financing and managing money? (Of course, SMEs and corporates would need different content – there’s not much you could tell a SME about cash flow, for instance, that a CFO wouldn’t already know)

Explain Complex Ideas

Financial products are often very complicated. Think of all the government legislation governing superannuation, for instance.

These products can’t be explained in a 30 second TV spot and not many customers are inclined to sit down and read a brochure explaining the ins and outs of a particular of product.

This is where fact-based content can be so helpful. Sticking with the example of superannuation, a consumer is much more likely to read “Five ways to boost your super balance” than a piece explaining the regulations around pre-tax super contributions and contribution caps. But information about super contributions and caps could be incorporated into a piece of content about boosting super balances – it’s all about how you package it.

Demonstrate Expertise and Relevance

Finally, as with so many purchasing decisions, consumers do a lot of research online before they make a financial decision – look at the popularity of mortgage calculators.

So financial services companies need to make sure that they’ve got easy-to-find content which will answer potential customers’ questions. If customers don’t find the information they want on one company’s website, they’ll be sure to find it on a competitor’s.

Christopher Niesche  is a former deputy editor of the Australian Financial Review and the founder of Headline Content, which specialises in providing relevant and engaging content to help businesses communicate more effectively with their customers