How well we communicate is determined not by how wellwe say things, but how well we are understood.


Over the past year, people have been looking for more than just products — they’ve been searching for ways to better themselves and improve their quality of life. We’ve seen this play out in a number of ways, from people learning new skills on YouTube to the rising interest in fitness trends and real estate, as people adjust to new realities.

Wellbeing is a top priority and a big part of that is financial wellbeing. Canadians are seeking certainty and financial stability — half of Canadians say that during COVID-19, a top concern has been their finances.1 With growing interest in taking control of their situations, people are looking for more ways to invest their money and protect their futures, resulting in increased demand in areas like mortgages and investing. Searches for “how to invest” have grown globally by over 70% YoY2. With growing uncertainty, financial literacy has become more important and we are seeing spikes of search interest around financial questions, like “What is a TFSA.”

It’s not about what you can sell to them, it’s about what you can solve for them.

COVID-19 has changed what consumers need. For the financial industry and others, we’re seeing marketers find new ways to understand and meet dynamic needs. It’s not about what you can sell to them, it’s about what you can solve for them. Here are four
ways marketers can make the shift.

Show, don’t tell, people why your company cares

Canadians who feel that their bank cares about their wellbeing are more satisfied with their bank and more loyal.3 Showing that a company cares — and why — doesn’t require a big campaign or a flashy rebrand. Sometimes a small action can have a big impact. Behavioural science research on reciprocity shows that when companies take a small, but thoughtful, action to help their consumer, such as offering them a service for free, those consumers are more likely to appreciate and reciprocate in turn.4 Giving authentically and generously can help turn potential customers into long-term relationships.

Demonstrating care can be as simple as addressing questions, removing pain points in the user experience, or personalizing to acknowledge needs.

Demonstrating care can be as simple as addressing questions, removing pain points in the user experience, or personalizing to acknowledge needs, and should be at the forefront of marketing and design.

Empower customers to make informed decisions

Helpfulness is driving engagement. A June 2021 Ipsos study commissioned by Google shows that people who purchased a financial product in the last six months and received advice from their financial service provider are 5X more likely to think their provider cares about their well-being than those who did not. The same study also found that receiving expertise and advice (online or in person) was one of the top drivers of the customer switching to, or bundling products with the brand they chose.5

With spikes in financial literacy questions, Canadians are turning to banks for answers. Several Canadian banks have rolled out advice-related campaigns to help improve financial literacy, such as this investing video tutorial by TD that explains how to buy a put, or this Scotiabank Advice+ personalized advice video campaign, with the message “we get to know you better to guide you better.”

As we dig deeper into learning we’ve identified an important trend.

Learning is shifting from a traditional, authoritative model to one driven by peer experts validated by their ability to provide demonstrated value. Companies like Wealthsimple, have already adopted this trend and are showcasing Gen Z testimonials and adopting the more casual styles of YouTube creators in tutorials.

Reduce friction along the customer journey, by making the experience easy and as seamless as possible.

Give customers more control over their experience

It’s not just about what you can give, but what pain points you can alleviate. Reduce friction along the customer journey, by making the experience easy and as seamless as possible.

Simple and familiar language is crucial to build understanding. If communications are not easy to understand, then customers can be left with decision paralysis, and feelings of frustration toward the messenger. Research shows words that are easier to say or familiar are more trustworthy and memorable.6 Use simple, familiar language and eliminate the use of financial jargon and acronyms.

More Canadians are searching for tools and insights to help them achieve their goals. People want to view accounts on one easy-to-use platform, access real-time spending insights and get personalized features like shopping recommendations based on spend habits. Financial companies can send alerts when customers appear to be overspending or are changing their spending habits. For example, Canadian Fintech company KOHOhighlights its seamless end-to-end app experience and budgeting insights as a key value proposition in their campaigns. These real-time experiences can give people more control over their finances as well as their schedules.

Some challenger brands have been at the forefront of pivoting quickly and addressing these new needs. Google research in the U.S. showed that while financially-savvy consumer segments trust incumbents to protect their money, they trust challenger fintechs to care about them.7

Speak to life moments, not products

When asked how customers think about their finances, people don’t talk about bank accounts and numbers — they talk about relationships and life moments.8 Many people don’t see banks from a product perspective, but rather the role they play in the moments that matter in life, like getting married, going to school or buying a new home. These milestones and goals are all intent-rich moments. Demonstrate how products and services can help your customers achieve life goals.

This all starts with understanding needs. Don’t try to predict, instead turn to Google’s database of search intent, Google Trends and Google analytics to discover what people are searching for or where potential user experience (UX) gaps exist. Keep agile budgets and automated marketing strategies, using tools like automated bidding, to shift strategies based on the needs and wants of your customer.

The pandemic has shown us that people want products and services that will better their lives and want to feel that brands genuinely care for them. By taking a people-centred approach, marketers can build authentic long-term relationships based on understanding and addressing needs.