How Umpqua is Winning at Financial Services Content Marketing

If content marketing is so good for financial services companies, then why do so many do it so badly?

That’s the thought I had after stumbling upon NewsCred’s Slideshare The Best In Financial Services Content Marketing. Among the findings:

  • 55% of respondents said they trust a bank more when it offers them helpful, useful content.
  • 50% of respondents said they would stay loyal to a bank that provided high quality content.
  • 31% of respondents said they have signed up for new products and services based on useful content from their bank.

These and other facts laid out in the NewsCred report tend to focus on what content marketing can do for existing relationships. But how can banks and other financial service institutions attract new customers? It’s certainly not by producing things that can double as a sleep aid. 

Regional bank Umpqua is a great example of how to do finserv content right. Despite being part of notoriously conservative industry, their content is anything but conventional. Take a look:

To portray how hard they work to ensure customer satisfaction, Umpqua shot a three-minute mini musical back in 2013. Not wanting it to just sit on YouTube, the bank offered up the audio track as a MP3 file and a ringtone (people can even download a lyric sheet with chord progressions).

As part of their 60th anniversary celebration, Umpqua got in touch with their inner Ken Burns and documented the history of their hometown (and how the community came together to open a bank). Fun fact – before Umpqua was founded in 1953, Canyonville residents only had two places to cash a check: the grocery store or a bar.

A little over a year ago, as Umpqua started to position themselves more as a bank for entrepreneurs, they released this 3-minute video featuring a poem written about perseverance. Not only does it feature an obscure poet — a 20th century lumberjack — it also has a score by the guitarist of Icelandic art band Sigur Rós.

When it comes to niche content for change agents, Umpqua didn’t stop with their Pixar-like parable. They also launched a video series that answers the question “What if they did TED talks in a bank?” This series featured Portland and San Franciscan entrepreneurs, while another campaign gave small business owners the spotlight.

Umpqua also tapped former MTV News correspondent SuChin Pak to host a twice-monthly podcast called Open Account. Each installment runs about 30 minutes and tackles interesting topics, like how to manage your finances as you go through (and come out of) a divorce.

While you could say that Umpqua’s content is all over the place — and you’d be right — you’re going to remember it. Most of it is interesting, some of it is useful and almost none of it is boring. That’s because as disparate as each campaign is, it’s all story-driven. And not just from a brand point-of-view. From the fictional couple in “Fall In Love” to the real divorced couple on Open Account, Umpqua’s not afraid to rely on personal narratives. In fact, it doesn’t appear they’re afraid of anything.

Umpqua’s willingness to experiment is something more should emulate. While many financial institutions are viewed as interchangeable, Umpqua’s content keeps it from being seen as “just another bank.” They’ve clearly identified a very specific customer and set out to win them over by zigging when everyone else is zagging. Thanks to this “anything goes” approach, Umpqua Bank is the perfect embodiment of no risk, no reward. And while risk is the last thing anyone wants from their bank, it’s a welcome characteristic in finserv content marketing.


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