Has your investment bank ventured into content as part of your marketing strategy?
You might wonder why you’d bother with content marketing. After all, you probably get a lot of business through referrals or word of mouth, as has been the case for investment banks for decades.
A key reason to give content marketing a second look is that some of the most successful investment banks (e.g., Morgan Stanley, J.P. Morgan, Goldman Sachs) tend to have a strong digital presence. Content marketing plays a big role in that because it helps to make the firm more discoverable online.
Should your firm look to harness the power of content? Let’s take a closer look:
Content marketing involves creating and distributing content for a target audience online. Several mediums count as content, for example blog posts, downloadable reports, video, infographics and podcasts.
Bill Gates made the infamous “content is king” statement way back in 1996, and over the last few years that has proved to be true. In the digital space, content is helping companies to achieve goals, including generating better leads, attracting more website traffic and improving brand reputation.
Content marketing has seen various strategies over the years, but one thing holds universally true: the content should be of high-quality and of value to your target audience. It should be useful and provide them with information that they need.
A few years ago, lower quality content proliferated as businesses tried to “game” the search engines. They stuffed in keywords and overall, didn’t produce useful or quality content. Since then, Google stepped in to put a stop to poor content. If you don’t focus on high-quality, relevant pieces, then your website can end up penalized and pushed down on search results.
Putting out quality content
At its heart, quality content isn’t about pitching your firm or its services – it’s about providing something relevant and useful to your audience. Look at leading brands on the internet and most of them are using content marketing to share stories, answer questions, provide tips and more.
Content feeds into social media marketing strategy, email marketing and almost any digital marketing method. It gives you something to say that goes deeper than “buy our services,” but rather showcases your expertise.
If there’s one bottom line to describe quality content, it’s that it provides your target audience with something they are looking for. Maybe it’s a burning question or a pressing problem they want to solve – your content can provide them with answers.Quality content can provide something of value to your potential clients Click To Tweet
What is the benefit of investment banking content?
There are multiple potential benefits to your firm if you delve into content marketing and do it well. “Doing it well” means being consistent, meeting the needs of your audience and producing polished work. For example, written content should be in the right “voice” and avoid any spelling or grammatical errors. Any audio or video content should come across as polished, although it doesn’t always have to look as though it were shot by a production company!
If you have quality content, here are some benefits:
You can differentiate from other firms
Demonstrating your knowledge is one of the few ways financial institutions and boutique investment banks can differentiate themselves from others. Content is a way to showcase your special expertise and demonstrate that you know what you’re talking about.
While the point isn’t to always be working a pitch, in a sense content can be a passive sort of “ask” for business. The potential client reads your blog post and a natural next step for them could be to ask about how you can help them with that particular topic.
You can build your relationship network
You might not always directly pitch your services (although it’s not “against the rules” to do that), but you can include other calls to action. For example, you can use content marketing as a way to request people join your email list. This way, you’re free to reach out to them later.
One tip for doing this effectively is to try to segment contacts by the topics they show interest in. For example, if they signed up to your email list from an article about investing in med tech, you might tag them with that interest so you can send them emails relevant to their interest.
You can improve your website SEO
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is a key goal of content marketing. By producing highly relevant content on topics that people search for within your niche, you can improve your firm’s chances of showing up in search engine results.
Producing regular content also helps to send “relevance” signals to Google about your website. It says you are an active business and that they should be showing your site in search results.
You can build your brand
Regular producers of high-quality content can build their brand in the public eye and often become known as thought leaders in the space. To use one example, Seth Godin has been blogging for years about marketing and business topics. Over that time, he has become a go-to voice for marketing thought leadership. Your firm could do something similar by having experienced partners share their thoughts. This is particularly important for boutique investment banking teams, who don’t have the name recognition of a Bank of America, Deutsche Bank or Barclays.
You can ultimately drive new client acquisition
Ultimately, the result of more visibility, SEO and showcasing your expertise can be that you drive more business to your firm. Content marketing can help to build trust with an audience so that when they’re ready for your services, they choose your firm.
What sort of content should you produce?
There are many potential topics and types of content your firm could consider producing. Here are just a few of our ideas:
- Repackage your research as content. For example, when you conduct equity research or industry overviews, you could easily share this in report or blog format as part of content marketing. (Tip: You can make reports downloadable for free in return for an email address.). As a result of the advisory services investment banks provide, you have unique insights around financial markets and financial transactions that are non-obvious to others outside of your space. This unique vantage point is doubly true when combined with the areas of specialization you may have (e.g., buy-side vs. sell-side, leveraged buyouts vs. underwriting, etc.).
- Write about the work that you do – people want to know the inner workings of how the investment banking industry works. Some ideas include: how transactions happen, the active buyers in a space, multiples in a category, latest IPOs…).
- Look to the most common problems or commonly-asked questions your firm gets. These are often perfect for content marketing because those are the sorts of topics and phrases that people look for on search engines. For example, you can interview some of the top investment bankers in your organization, or do deep dives on different investment banking divisions (e.g., capital markets and ipos, corporate finance, mergers & acquisitions).
- Provide regular news updates in your areas of expertise. If you have investment bankers with different areas of focus (e.g., industrials, financial services and asset management, healthcare), you can send out digests of the most noteworthy stories. Given the volume of activity in the market (initial public offerings, SPACs, restructurings acquisitions by private equity firms, and lots of capital raising), there’s plenty of fodder to choose from!
- Case studies – while you’ll need to take care to ensure confidentiality, showing outcomes you’ve helped clients achieve (raise funds at great valuations, get liquidity, a successful debt issuance) is powerful social proof.
- Educational primers – while sophisticated institutional investors (pension funds, hedge funds, etc.) will be familiar with even the most esoteric topics you could cover (pricing derivatives, the nuances of risk management), many of your target clients won’t be. Most of them haven’t spent time at the bulge-bracket banks and gone through the rigorous financial analyst programs that a UBS, Credit Suisse, or other wall street firm provides. As a result, they may not know much about what an investment banking firm does, some of the common vocabulary (i.e., ‘what’s an issuer?’), or what financial products and transactions make sense for them.
- Look to the analytics on your website and see if there are any common search phrases used to find your firm online. These can be a good starting point for content (and you know you’re using a phrase people search for).
- Showcase your network – part of the value investment bankers provides is the network of relationships with investors, lenders, and other valuable connections that you can pitch on behalf of your clients. You could have an associate or vice president spend time organizing this all, or use software that helps automate that task.
How can you distribute your content?
Content distribution refers to the different places that you make your content available. The most important thing about content distribution is that it needs to be found where your audience goes. That’s where we’d start – find out where they are on and offline, and work backwards from there.
Online you can post to your website and social media channels. You might also find other websites that you can guest post or become a regular contributor to. For example, Forbes often features business content. Another channel to consider is webinars. These are a popular way of reaching a wide audience for a special topic. Podcasts can be great if you have someone engaging as the voice and who is willing to commit to a regular recording schedule.
Offline, you might distribute content via other media. You might contribute to a financial services magazine or share your content at events. There are many ways to reach the right audience, you just have to do a little homework to know where they are.
Investment banking content can be a great way to promote your firm and share your expertise without coming across as too salesy. It’s a gentler way to reach out to people who have never come across your brand before and promote some awareness. It’s also a great way to be useful to current clients.
Finally, content marketing can help you to build up trust and new relationships. It’s a way to grow your networks while providing something of value to your target audience.