Midas Awards Grand Jury Spotlight Interview: David Martin

The Midas Awards recruits its global Grand Jury from the top agency and client leaders who have worked in the world of financial advertising, as well as international experts in financial policy and communications. The Midas Grand Jury is tasked with selecting the World's Best Financial Advertising and the results of their efforts are parsed in an annual rankings brief, The Midas Report and The Midas Brand Report —a veritable who’s-who in the world of financial services advertising. 

In this week's Grand Jury Spotlight interview the Midas Awards spent a few minutes with David Martin, Joint Managing Director for London-based M Worldwide. David has worked with leading brands and retailers in more than 22 countries. His expertise in the financial services sector has led him to work with such prominent financial services brands including Halifax, Lloyds Bank, NatWest, Royal Bank of Scotland, Skipton Building Society and Swinton Insurance.

Keep reading to find out David’s views on the challenges of working in financial advertising, how financial advertising has evolved since he started working in the industry, what's on the horizon for financial advertising and so much more!

Midas Awards: What’s the biggest challenge to working in financial advertising?

David Martin: This is an industry that has been largely stable and unchanged for decades, but it’s now experiencing unprecedented ‘speed of change’. More agility, fleetness of foot, and flexibility from financial services brands and their creative agencies are needed in order to tackle increased regulation, new market entrants, legacy systems and estates, and better informed customers.

Midas Awards: How has financial advertising changed since you started working in the industry?

David Martin: The advancement of technology means that the way people now do their banking and make financial decisions is changing dramatically. How financial companies engage with customers requires more than just advertising – it’s about the whole multi-channel brand experience.

The in-branch experience, in particular, is undergoing a sea change. Customers are better informed than ever before through online research, but filtering that advice is a challenge, particularly for ‘big ticket’ decisions like mortgages, and that becomes a barrier to decision-making. Transactional activity has migrated onto online and mobile channels. In-branch footfall is dropping, with counter usage decreasing. Existing branch propositions are no longer fit for purpose for staff in terms of an increasing need for them to deliver consultative advice to customers.

Understanding that a ‘cookie cutter’ approach to branches is simply unsustainable against this context, many financial services brands are devising an ever-growing array of branch experiences and designs that appeal to local customers and their needs – all part of a wider branch of the future strategy. New, sometimes radical formats including pop ups, micro banks, mobile branches, are being used to help companies be community focused and tailored to location and customer need, provide services that can’t be obtained online, encourage high value conversations, and add value, build loyalty, and engage people in a brand-led experience.

It’s also worth noting that the financial services sector isn’t alone in this – most service-led retailers face similar challenges.

Midas Awards: How has technology impacted creative in the financial advertising industry? What brands have utilized technology in a unique way to attract the digital consumer?

David Martin: There’s a proliferation of FinTech businesses out there, but they are just opportunities exploited – companies that aren’t encumbered by weighty backend legacy processes. I think the real drivers of change are customers, not FinTech companies – customers have moved from passive behaviours to challenging behaviours when it comes to their financial services providers.

The challenge for financial brands is to listen properly to their customers and answer their needs – in whatever channel is most relevant. And they may have to activate change in how their businesses are structured in order to do so.

Payment systems are increasingly the starting point for the digital relationship, which can lead to conversations about bigger ticket customer needs when the time is right. For example, Danske Bank introduced their own MobilePay app and now 50% of the population use the app for daily transaction – and two thirds of those users are not even customers at Danske Bank.

Midas Awards: What’s on the horizon for financial marketing and advertising?

David Martin: The future looks most bright for physical spaces such as bank branches. As consumers continue to take more responsibility for their finances, become better informed, and as everyday transactions are fulfilled through other channels, the window has opened for more engaging and aspirational spaces that create exciting possibilities for consumers and their money.

Case in point is Lloyds Bank in the UK. A new site was the impetus to create a new customer experience and design concept, as part of a wider branch of the future strategy. Lloyds Clapham Junction is highly targeted to the area’s particular demographic – financially well off, digitally-savvy, and young households. Recognition of local residents’ lifestyles through personalised service was key to delivering a customer experience that deepens relationships beyond simple transactions and becomes known within the area as the ‘go-to’ bank for distinctive personalised service in a multichannel world.

The branch is tailored for the local demographic, and flexible for future evolution. The proposition is experiential rather than functional. The environment reflects the brand promise ‘For Your Next Step’ and each of four cornerstone customer need states: Convenience, Search & Solve, Planning, and Sharing.

Its success is way beyond Lloyds’ expectations. The results are proof positive that customers get a personalised service that addresses their needs, that the branch is significantly over performing versus the control group, and that the branch is positively influencing customer perception of the Lloyds brand.

Midas Awards: What inspires you?

David Martin: Ask someone about his or her favourite store or high street brand and most will relate an anecdote about great staff that went the extra mile, did something extraordinary or unexpectedly surprising. The provision of unique and engaging real life experiences inspire me – they are critical in a world that has become increasingly digital, automated, and robotic. This is especially true when it comes to complex, big ticket purchases – the kind of new ideas and concepts that are so often found in the financial services sector. For these, trusted face-to-face reassurance is key – though of course that still needs to be supported by seamless brand experience through all channels, marketing communications, and physical environments.

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