Andrew Barks

When it comes to the finance industry, I’ve found the most common and most important goal my clients bring to the table is “building credibility.”

I think it’s equally important that I, as a content writer and editor, build that same credibility with my finance clients.

Most people don’t realize the level of research that goes into a single piece, whether it’s an eBook, a whitepaper or a 500-word blog post. We spend a lot of time embedding ourselves in the finance world to grasp the concepts and services. But it doesn’t end there.

Here are nine ways my team works with clients to deliver exceptional content:

We see finance news through THEIR lens

Glasses_GrIt’s part of my team’s job to pay attention to updates in the economy at large, and we can make it a point to dissect market trends from the lens of our various clients’ lines of business. Early in the relationship with a new client, I make it a point to share my perspective on how an industry update relates to their line of work, whether they’re wholesaling home loans or operating in a more consumer-facing space, at some point during those early conversations. On one hand, this creates quick dialog to get us on the same page, and on the other, an allusion to mortgage rate movement or the Federal Reserve’s monetary reassures them they can trust my field knowledge.

Nearly everyone within our team has a range of experience. Between us, we’ve written for everything from insurance providers and local banks to the energy and manufacturing sectors.

We trust our writing instincts

My team is made up of practiced and confident writers. We express to clients that we’re familiar with their world, but even more, we show them we’re ready to take ownership of our content. This goes a long way toward building trust with someone who’s skeptical of an outsider’s ability to write about tax reporting, or risk assessment, or any other nuanced topic.

We know different audiences require different touch and tone

If there’s a common theme across the gamut of industries we cover, it’s that every client wants to be credible with their readers.

If those readers are primarily financial advisors, the content takes on an entirely different tone than it would for readers who are customers of a mid-sized bank. No matter the audience, the ultimate goal is the same:

  • We need to be relatable.

Whether addressing recurring issues advisors’ face, or touching on the everyday concerns of a consumer from gas price or how to save for college tuition, we’ll master the topic and tone. Which is related to my next point …  

We understand language subtleties

When a piece is directed at someone who consults with high-net-worth individuals for a living, you have to figure out how to speak their language. It’s important to choose the words that will satisfy compliance demands, resonate with the average reader and avoid alienating more discerning or expert audiences. There are subtleties that make a big difference in certain finance fields.

For instance:

  • To high-net-worth individuals, the  seemingly minor distinction of “financial professional” versus “advisor” can dictate whether an audience deems the content reputable.
  • Office administrator or, say, a small business owners looking for budgeting tips and operational efficiency require you to get right to it. The language must be more direct, framing pain points upfront in a “How does this impact your bottom line?” discussion.

We’ve learned to adapt to different styles of writing, and observe trends in language efficacy for clients who offer products as disparate as construction software and risk-management consultancy.

We know what kinds of formats drive the best results

Green_Icon_MarketingThe majority of my clients aim to foster trust with their existing audience, and hold content more accountable for engagement than new leads. I know an analytical article on what the Fed’s deliberations mean for investors or homeowners will outperform service descriptions, industry news recaps or lengthy eBooks.

Blogs in the format of “How Regulation X affects your business” will always be pertinent to engagement, serving the dual purpose of communicating useful information to readers while enhancing credibility. Ultimately, if a site’s audience includes loan officers, they already know the CFPB is unveiling new regulatory changes – our job is to help them sift through the mass of information and feel prepared, so the transition is as seamless as possible.

We check for any and all liability concerns

There’s no universal compliance guide – every company we work with is different and liability concerns vary across industries. We track what’s been flagged in a living document and we might share it with the client periodically to make sure everything still applies. It can hamstring approval timelines and sometimes limit what we can cover, but by keeping proper records, we update our knowledge and avoid running into the same snags.

We study the company collateral

Product and sales demos are always helpful to understanding a company, and we review every sales deck, employee training manual or service guide we can get our hands on. One better? We make every effort to speak with the people on the frontline of customer interactions.

Recently we had an in-person kickoff with one client that turned into a series of Q&As with different members of their sales team. It’s extremely beneficial to hear how different sales associates approach their customers. As an editorial team, we got a bunch of different perspectives we might not have accessed otherwise.

We get inspired by fellow finance writers

Green_Icon_SocialWe read finance articles constantly both for research purposes and for inspiration. I was recently inspired by the headline Money-saving tips for Grape Festival, because it underscores the fact that money-saving listicles are absolutely everywhere – and that people read them and care, even if only in the ‘Na yo, I can’t, I gotta make sure I have enough for Grape Festival’ sense.

The writer’s perk: I gain legitimately applicable real-world knowledge every day.

I wouldn’t have known how to approach the mortgage application process, or how to appropriately haggle with a shifty car salesperson, prior to joining the finance team. Now those are conversations I can semi-confidently have, in addition to the ‘Are millennials spoiled, entitled and bad at saving money?’ debate. Don’t even step to me there.