Fresh Ways To Explain the Financial Crisis

My first job at a mutual fund company was at Kemper Funds, a few years before the commercial development of the Internet (and my dearly beloved At that time, competitive intelligence in our shareholder communications group took the form of quarterly meetings scheduled once we’d collected enough shareholder newsletters of our competitors. The purpose: To review what our competitors were doing and to borrow from the best ideas.

Even at that time and even though Kemper was based in downtown Chicago, it felt as if we were an outpost operation relying on the Pony Express to deliver news of the outside world. Given the inherent delay—we were reviewing publications from the previous quarter in the best case—it seemed like a hopelessly stale way to “keep up.”

The Internet has made everything better, of course. Financial services marketers, specifically, have easy real-time access to how their competitors’ are communicating. Now there’s no need to try to read the minds of distributors---either the broker-dealers or the financial advisors themselves. Ditto for the end-investors. Web sites, blogs, message boards, feeds, alerts, tweets—all of it can keep the curious marketer informed. (And we try to help, too, by tracking Best Practices.)

Thanks to the financial markets madness, your business—the marketing of investment advice and products—has been on the mind of lots of governments, organizations and one-stop shops lately. Have you seen how others are communicating about what’s going on? Today's generation of marketers can learn so much and yes, be inspired by the following fresh approaches and smart use of online delivery.

A Visual Guide to the Financial Crisis, a "loose flowchart" from, is masterful in its simplicity. Compliance would insist on a whole lot more disclosure. Still…why not take a stab at more story-telling graphs with fewer words?

Two Understanding The Financial Crisis videos have been created by Enspire Learning. Enspire describes itself as “a team of training professionals, creative writers, multimedia artists, and game developers” whose work includes some financially-focused videos. I’m linking to the first Understanding The Financial Crisis YouTube file embedded in a financial planner’s blog, Prudent Investing by Adam Zuercher.

The point: Easy-to-understand explanations are valued by financial advisors—and they often show their appreciation by linking to your content. One of our favorite topics lately is how Marketing can add significant value by creating content with legs.

This Flash video is an example of a financial planner (the Behavior Gap)taking it upon himself to produce an interesting way to present a story every investment management company uses the long form to tell. Again, a similar Marketing/Compliance collaboration would have produced lots more attribution but let’s be honest with ourselves: Would Compliance have flat-out vetoed this approach? I doubt it.

Times are tough, the ranks are thinning, nobody’s happy and you could be worried about your own survivability. Here’s hoping these inspire you to re-focus and find a way to take a fresh crack at telling what may be the most important story of your career.