Marketers working on financial regulation face a number of challenges, from long lead times to sudden changes of priority, but they still need to plan for the future and convert leads around upcoming regulatory events. So, how best to approach the challenge?
B2B marketing sales cycles are notoriously long, but for any marketer who works for a business that leans on financial regulation to drive sales demand, such as a software vendor or management consultancy, that cycle can be even longer. Case in point: Basel III, which was developed in response to the financial crisis of 2007–08 to strengthen bank capital requirements by increasing bank liquidity and decreasing bank leverage.
Basel III was agreed upon in November 2010, and scheduled to be introduced from 2013 until 2015; however, implementation was put back to 31 March 2019 and then again to 1 January 2022 – a full 12 years later (and counting) until go-live.
It is unlikely that any financial institution will sit and wait for a regulatory framework to come to fruition before they invest in software or consulting expertise to help them. It is also unlikely that they will have just one regulation they need to comply with. So, as a marketer who needs to map out activity to grab a share of voice and ultimately convert leads around a regulatory ‘compelling event’, where do you even start? Here are a few steps that you could follow:
As with all good planning, you need to prioritise
A cursory glance at the list of financial regulatory authorities by country on Wikipedia reveals just how vast the regulatory landscape is. You cannot expect to be the leading voice on all the regulations out there. So, in concert with the product management and sales leadership team, you can work out where you have the best tools and the talent, which will quickly reveal where you should concentrate your marketing energy.
Divide and conquer
Once you have the shortlist identified, create a separate plan for each. Each regulation will have different requirements, decision makers, timelines etc. Sounds like a lot, so to help here is a framework that might help. The Huthwaite International SPIN® marketing buying cycle model outlines the key psychological stages customers go through when deciding whether to make a major buying decision. So far, so standard buyer’s journey model, but I think this one is particularly useful to the regulatory market.
The first segment – changes over time – is a great place for content marketers to focus the most attention, particularly when the regulation is announced and when the countdown to implementation starts. It is here when you can monitor changes to the specific regulation from a national, supranational and global perspective, and help customers navigate the often complex waters. This is also the moment to create your best thought leadership content, such as webinars, whitepapers, podcasts, etc. This continual monitoring and commentary process has the added benefit of helping you to build trust between you, and the customer and positioning you as the pre-eminent experts.
Stay nimble and keep up to date
Arguably, the biggest paradox – and the biggest headache – of marketing around regulatory regimes is when everything is planned thoroughly and you kick off, all guns blazing, only for another, more pressing topic with a shorter deadline suddenly to take the mantle as the ‘regulation de rigueur’. This is where you can practise the fine art of keeping your long-term strategic plans in place, while maintaining a contingency of time, money and energy back for other, quicker wins.
It’s also worth remembering that regulations do not spring up out of the blue. They have a long gestation period, which is where your discussions during your planning phase and regular check-ins with key stakeholders really pay dividends. Make sure you are more than aware of what is on the horizon, so you can pre-empt the changes and adapt accordingly if required.
Recycle, reuse, repurpose
If your business is global, find out if there are any similar regimes in other countries that already have marketing content developed around it that, with a few tweaks, can be repurposed. While each piece of regulation has its specific nuances and detail, broadly speaking they all tend to cover larger themes, depending on what macroeconomic dynamics are in play.
EY posits that there are four major themes that will dominate the regulatory landscape at the moment: operational resilience; environmental, social and governance (ESG); data and emerging technology; and the completion of remaining post-crisis measures. Find out common threads in your organisation’s regulatory priorities and tie them together where you can.
Diversify if possible
As much as we like to think that financial regulation is developed by finance professionals to keep an eye on the world’s financial health, political intervention has always influenced the outcomes. As the pendulum swings from more regulation to less and back again, depending on who is the current incumbent in the highest seat of power, only relying on regulatory regimes to sell your offering can be a risky game.
However, there is a wealth of post-crisis regulation that is more closely aligned to risk management and financial forecasting, which can also provide valuable business insight to firms as well as pure compliance. Find out from your product and sales team if the solution has other value-add benefits that could be capitalised on and diversify those marketing campaigns accordingly.
When I started working in the field of regulation in 2009, we were freshly out of the financial crisis and it felt good knowing that I was playing a (small) part in making sure the mistakes of the recent past wouldn’t happen again. I also found that, as the years went by, the continuous twists and turns were challenging but extremely rewarding. If you find yourself in this jargon-filled industry with more moving parts you could imagine, I hope these tips are helpful.