Marketing in a Highly Regulated Industry: Financial Services

Digital marketers who work in highly regulated industries such as financial services deal with very different business climates as their counterparts elsewhere. Meticulous compliance reviews often lead to content marketing that is completely dated or awfully diluted by the time it’s finally distributed.
The greatest challenge may simply be keeping up with the inconsistent guidelines and rules that govern how and what they can market to particular audiences. But non-compliance can cost you and your company money as well as the type of bad publicity from which it is hard to bounce back.
Whether it’s FINRA in the financial services industry or HIPAA and ACA (Affordable Care Act) in the insurance and medical fields, marketers have to keep on top of sometimes ever-changing rules and regulations. It boils down to what you say about your products and services (or your competitors and their products), how you market via phone, email and the internet, and what info you’re allowed to collect in the process.
That being the case, all is not lost if marketers remember a few basic rules when trying to deliver relevant, personalized messages through digital marketing.

Stay up to date

Regulatory organizations like FINRA and newspapers such as The New York Times publish regular columns and updates on the newest legislative changes and regulatory developments in key industries. Marketers should bookmark and subscribe to these services and read them on a regular basis.

Use the right tools

Keep current on the best tools to help you manage communication within regulation. With the right marketing, communications and social media compliance software, you can securely capture your firm’s communication and social media activity. 

Get close to the experts

Online marketers must know relevant rules and regulations inside and out. But a close relationship with the compliance officer is just as important. Often times, sales and marketing teams are out of sync with compliance. Remove any barriers between compliance and marketing by sharing knowledge and successful strategies on a regular basis. Collaborating can help your process so that approval is accomplished more quickly.

Consider your marketing cycles

Marketers need to build extra time into marketing plans and schedules in order to reflect compliance reviews and the time and effort required to research any changes.

Globalization doesn’t mean standardization (at least not yet)

When dealing with foreign markets, whether in South America, Asia or Europe, marketers should assume that rules and regulations governing on-line marketing will be different from those in their home markets. For instance, failing to research differences in Taiwanese or Russian markets will make you look amateurish and parochial, not to mention short-sighted when you realize you need to rewrite your entire marketing plan.
Once you have researched all of the nuances and changes in your target market, don’t forget to personalize each message and campaign. You are still trying to get as close to 1-to-1 marketing as possible. Some tips:

  • Know your market and how it has changed; research all related legislation, regulatory changes, and compliance management tools
  • Give yourself enough time to build these changes into your marketing cycles
  • Appeal to individuals with targeted, individualized messages

It’s an exciting new world — one that rewards creativity, innovation and research. When marketing in a highly regulated industry, you need to devise your own, up-to-date and relevant marketing strategy — and make sure it offers no surprises to your chief compliance officer.
Here’s a list of compliance-related resources to check out: