Financial Services Marketing: Definition, Benefits and Best Practices for Small Businesses

Growing a business can be challenging if you’re a small financial services company. Especially with the evolution of digital transformation causing an industry-wide shakeup in the financial sector, digital-savvy customers are expecting more from financial services companies. How can small financial services companies survive—and thrive—in this volatile environment? 

Only using traditional marketing methods won’t bring the best result for your business—try financial services marketing instead. But what is financial services marketing, actually? In this article, we’ll walk you through this term, from the definition, types of businesses that can take advantage of it, and the five best financial services marketing strategies for financial service providers. 

What is financial services marketing?

Financial services marketing is several marketing methods that employ special strategies and techniques to generate brand awareness or drive conversions to a financial firm. By using custom-made marketing strategies for financial services, business owners can turn obstacles into advantages and grow their business effectively.

What kind of businesses can benefit from financial services marketing?

The financial services sector includes many different niches and segments. Here are the main types of financial companies that can benefit from financial services marketing:

  • Auto finance firms
  • Brokerage firms
  • Credit unions
  • Commercial banks
  • Retail banks
  • Credit card companies
  • Insurance companies
  • CPA firms
  • Wealth management firms
  • Accounting firms

However, these financial institutions are subject to different laws and regulations, which are beyond the scope of this article. Before you consider and implement the following marketing strategies, keep in mind to refer to standard practices and regulations specific to your field. 

Two major challenges of financial services marketing

  • It’s hard to gain customers’ trust

This is perhaps the most common issue for financial-service marketers. Money is a personal topic, and customers must trust their financial institutions before purchasing more services.

The Covid-19 recession negatively affected most people, and only recently are customers becoming more comfortable with their financial positions. This means they are very cautious about investing money in products and services they don’t know thoroughly or are uncertain whether they are necessary. 

  • Customers are unaware of financial services marketing’s benefits 

A potential car buyer can immediately judge quality based on objective factors like appearance, gas mileage, and price. They can read quantifiable figures about each vehicle to make comparisons and discuss them in a public forum to pick the most suitable one. 

However, people looking for a financial service are less inclined to publicize their demands. This means product attributes are vague, which can increase customers’ skepticism. This problem is not easy to overcome, especially because most people consider financial services uninteresting.

Five best practice marketing strategies for financial services

Now that we have identified the challenges of financial services marketing, let’s go into the details of the most effective financial services marketing strategies that will help you attract more leads and convert them into loyal customers.

1. Host educational webinars

Webinars are an effective channel to generate leads, especially for B2B businesses. According to Findstack, around 73% of B2B professional marketers think they can get high-quality leads from webinars. Additionally, the use of webinars has increased rapidly since the Covid-19 outbreak.

Webinars continue to be the first choice for many marketers because they offer an effective way to build authority and trust among your brand’s audience base. Unlike other marketing strategies, a webinar session allows financial institutions to reveal a more human aspect, which is a huge plus since most people perceive financial companies as impersonal, formal, and unfriendly.

Webinars are an effective approach to generating leads because they promise more value than most other marketing methods. If your webinar attracts a prospect’s attention, they will be more likely to fill out their information in your webinar sign-up form.

Additionally, hosting a webinar is a golden opportunity to understand your audience. It’s the best thing next to having face-to-face conversations, making potential customers comfortable enough to bring up questions or concerns that they wouldn’t have raised in any other environment or platform.

2. Publish case studies

Broadcasting case studies can be the best way to tell your audience that you have a solution for their financial problem. Why’s this true? It’s because case studies allow you to demonstrate to your prospective customers that your product or services are effective Case studies tell a story and show how successful a product or service is. And if there’s one thing potential customers are looking for, it’s a story that promises a good ending.

Case studies are also based on evidence and are backed by real numbers. For example, if you tell a story of how you were able to help a struggling company increase their annual revenue by 200% and then back it up with statistics, you’re showing that you’re trustworthy and that you can live up to your promises.

3. Build social media presence

Statistics show that roughly 7-in-10 Americans use social media, and they spend an average of 2 hours and 25 minutes surfing the internet per day. That means that most of your customers (both potential and existing) are on social media.

Social media is where conversations and discussions happen, making it an ideal place to develop your financial brand’s authority and trust. What’s more, on many platforms social media users are not only there to interact with their friends but also with brands. 

Business blog Oberlo’s research about social media statistics has also proved it: 

  • 54% of internet users use social media platforms to research products or services.
  • 71% of customers who have had a good experience with a brand on social media will recommend it to their family and friends.
  • 49% of customers are likely to buy something if it was recommended by a social media influencer.

In other words, if you’re not focusing on building your social media presence, you’re leaving money on the table.

4. Implement PPC advertising to generate financial leads

When growing a financial services business, neglecting PPC (Pay-Per-Click) advertising is a huge waste. After all, financial services companies largely rely on lead generation. PPC advertising is the way to go when it comes to generating leads.

PPC advertising offers the following benefits:

  • Helps you rank faster for strategic keywords.
  • Brings you prompt traffic.
  • Attracts highly targeted visitors to your website.
  • Contributes to your search advertising, display advertising, retargeting strategies.

5. Publish high-quality blog posts

Blogging has changed radically over the years. In general, most people will do a Google search to find answers to their financial problems or dilemmas. That’s why publishing high-quality blog content is still an effective strategy for growing a financial brand (or any brand for that matter). 

Like a PPC strategy, you can start by doing keyword research. However, unlike PPC, you have a new metric to consider with SEO keyword research: keyword difficulty. This gives you a comprehensive insight into a keyword or topic, its volume (which indicates how many people search for the keyword), and how easy or hard it is to rank for a keyword. You can use keyword research software like Ahrefs, Ubersuggest, or Semrush. If you’re just starting out, try focusing on keywords with lower difficulty to start earning initial search traffic.

Investing in a blog can benefit your financial services business in the following ways:

  • Drive traffic to your website
  • Boost brand awareness via SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
  • Generate leads for your email database 
  • Build trust and authority in your niche
  • Grow a social media presence (when sharing a high-quality blog post on social media)

The bottom line

So now you have it—the five most effective financial services marketing strategies that can help boost your financial firm. You can now consider the pick the best method(s) for your company to increase your brand awareness and generate conversions. 

Shoeboxed is a versatile receipt-scanning and expense-managing app for small businesses. Shoeboxed offers business owners the best accounting solution: digitizing receipts, managing expenses, storing business cards, tracking mileages, and so much more. Additionally, Shoeboxed ensures that the digital versions of your receipts are clearly scanned, well categorized, human-verified, and legibly accepted by both the Internal Revenue Service and the Canada Revenue Service in the event of an audit. By that, you can rest assured that all your business financial documents are audit-ready and focus on developing your business’s core values. 
Don’t forget to sign up for the Shoeboxed blog if you’d like more information on how Shoeboxed has helped our clients with their financial challenges and other engaging stories about entrepreneurship, staying organized, DIY accounting, together with the latest Shoeboxed’s product updates.

Which of These 4 Business Structures Is Best for Your New Business Idea?

One of the first things to consider when starting a business is to determine the legal structure for your business. Your business structure will influence day-to-day operations, liability obligations, and how your business is taxed. Therefore, you should choose a business structure that provides you with both legal protections and benefits.

There are four common business structures: sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, and limited liability company. In today’s article, we’ll discuss the basics of each business structure along with its advantages and disadvantages so you can choose one that fits your circumstances.

1. Sole proprietorship

A sole proprietorship is the simplest business structure, with one person in charge of the company’s day-to-day operations. For entrepreneurs who wish to test their business idea before creating a more formal company, sole proprietorships are a good option.

Sole proprietorships don’t have their own legal entity, which means your business assets and obligations are undetached from your personal ones. For example, the profits of the sole proprietorship flow directly to its owner. And as you’re the only one who established the business, it’s obvious that the income will go into your pocket. 

The same rule will apply to your liability obligations which means you’re personally responsible for your company’s liabilities. This, on some occasions, could place your assets at risk, as they could be seized to satisfy a business debt.

There are several advantages when you structure your business as a sole proprietorship. Sole proprietorships are inexpensive to set up, and when running the business there are minimal fees (such as business taxes and operating license fees). Also, you may be eligible for tax deductions, such as health insurance. Another plus is that this type of business doesn’t require activities such as shareholder meetings, nor do you need to hold voting or election of directors.

On the downside, it’s often difficult to raise capital for sole proprietorships. This is because as a sole proprietor, you have no stock to sell, not to mention that banks and credit unions are hesitant to lend to sole proprietorships. As a result, you may heavily depend on your financing sources, such as savings, home equity, or family loans.

When it comes to filing taxes, the process is easy to follow. Because a sole proprietorship doesn’t exist as a separate legal entity from its owner, you’re not required to file separate income tax forms. In the US, all you have to do is fill in the personal income tax return, Form 1040, and attach it along with Schedule C, a report of profit or loss from a business. 

2. Partnership

A partnership is a form of a business structure owned and operated by several individuals. This is the simplest business structure with two or more owners. Partnerships are considered a suitable option for businesses with multiple owners or professional organizations (such as attorneys) looking to test their business idea before establishing a more formal company.

Partnerships come in two varieties: limited partnerships and limited liability partnerships. In limited partnerships, there’s only one general partner with unlimited liability and several other partners with limited liability. As a result, the general partner operates the business and assumes liability for the partnership, while the limited-liability partners have little control over the business and aren’t subject to the same liabilities as the general partner. This will be stated in a partnership agreement.

Limited liability partnerships are similar to limited partnerships, except that all partners who join to form the business have limited liability. Each partner in a limited liability partnership is protected from obligations owed to the partnership, and they aren’t liable for the activities of other partners.

The biggest advantage when forming your business as a partnership is the tax treatment your business enjoys. A partnership doesn’t pay tax on its income but passes through any profits or losses to the individual partner’s tax returns. When tax season in the US comes around, the partnership files a tax return Form 1065 that submits it to the IRS. Along with that, each partner fills in Schedule K-1 of Form 1065 to report their share of income and loss.

However, partnerships also have disadvantages, such as complicated paperwork when registering the company. Besides, if any disagreements occur between the partners, it would slow down the business’s operations. 

3. Corporation

Corporations are more complex than the other two business structures above. A corporation is an independent legal entity, separate from its owners. Therefore it often comes with more regulations and tax requirements.

In the US, there are two main types of corporations: C-corporations and S-corporations. A C-corporation is a legal entity independent from its owners, while an S-corporation can have up to 100 shareholders and operates somewhat similarly to a partnership.

The most significant advantage for a corporation is its liability protection to each shareholder. Because a corporation’s debt isn’t considered its owners’ debt, forming your company as a corporation won’t put your personal assets in danger. Another plus is the ability to raise capital. A corporation can sell stock to raise funds. 

One drawback of corporations is that they are subject to more requirements, such as meeting, voting, and the election of directors. Also, it’s more expensive to set up a corporation than a sole proprietorship or partnership.

When it comes to taxes, a corporation is subjected to pay both federal and state taxes. At the same time, earnings distributed to each shareholder in the form of dividends are taxed on their personal income tax returns. In other words, owners of a corporation may pay a double tax on their business’s earnings.

4. Limited liability company

A limited liability company is a hybrid business structure that brings together the characteristics of both partnerships and corporations. Limited liability companies have been around since the 70s, but they have only gained popularity recently. 

Unlike an S-corporation, which has a limit of 100 shareholders, a limited liability company has no such restriction. When registering a limited liability company, you must submit the articles of association with the Secretary of State in the state in which the company intends to do business. In some states, an operating agreement is an additional requirement.  

On the positive side, a limited liability company comes with fewer paperwork requirements when setting up the business than a corporation. The limited liability company provides personal liability protection to business owners, which means personal assets won’t be at risk if your company faces bankruptcy or lawsuits. 

On the downside, a limited liability company costs a fair amount to set up. Also, it may need to hire a technical accountant and an attorney to ensure that it complies with tax and regulatory requirements.

When filing taxes, the profits and losses of the business are passed on to the owners without facing corporate taxes. However, a limited liability company member is considered self-employed and must pay self-employment tax contributions towards Medicare and Social Security.

The bottom line

This article covers the basics of four business structures as well as their advantages and disadvantages. It gives you a good grasp to choose which business structure you’ll go for when you start your “venture” journey.

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7 Bookkeeping Practices Every Business Should Implement

Bookkeeping is one of the most fundamental activities of a business. It’s the job of recording all financial transactions within your business. Without bookkeeping you won’t be aware of your financial position.

It’s essential to build a consistent bookkeeping practice so that you can avoid monetary issues and use your financial reserves efficiently to grow your company. With that being said, do you know how to build basic bookkeeping practices? If you don’t, we’re here to help. In this article, we list out seven essential bookkeeping best practices every business should implement.

1. Separate personal and business finances

The first bookkeeping practice is related to business finance management. Co-mingling expenses for personal and business purposes leads to many issues in the future for a business. Therefore, for your business’s sake, you should establish a clear distinction between your personal and corporate accounts.

The simplest approach would be to get a business debit card or a credit card. Both make it easy to track your business transactions. Details of any transaction are stored on the e-banking app which you can access anywhere at any time. 

Now that you know how separating finances helps you manage your business better, it’s time to inform other people involved in your business too. Ensure your employees aren’t buying things for personal use with business funds. If funds aren’t accurately allocated it will lead to cash flow issues as well as tax filing and auditing complications.

2. Determine which accounting method to use

Another bookkeeping practice is to choose which accounting method your company will use to record transactions. There are two standard systems of accounting: cash accounting and accrual accounting.

Cash accounting is relatively simple and broadly utilized by small firms. Cash accounting records transactions only when money is spent or gained. Due to its simplicity, the cash accounting method is also used by many people to manage their personal finances.

On the other hand, under the accrual method, transactions are recorded when they are incurred rather than awaiting payment. This means a purchase or expense is recorded as a transaction even though the funds haven’t been received or bills haven’t been paid immediately.

3. Establish cash controls

Cash controls refer to all cash management policies and procedures within your organization. Many of the financial hazards associated with running a business (such as inaccurate payments, theft, and fraud), can be mitigated by implementing procedures that maintain control over cash flow.

There are many examples of best bookkeeping practices which you can adopt to enhance the management of a company’s funds, including reconciling cash receipts to deposits and the general ledger, following up on collections of returned checks, or preparing cash flow forecasts. 

4. Keep track of sales

Bookkeeping is the recording of all financial transactions involving your business, and it goes without saying that sales receipts are the most important of all financial documents because they allow businesses to gain visibility into their performance, to identify whether they’re doing well and whether you have to adjust any strategies.

It’s essential to keep track of sales receipts because you’ll need them to calculate your business’s income. Your income reveals the profits or losses you make while operating your business. This data helps you make better business decisions, ranging from day-to-day purchases to long-term expansion.

5. Keep track of expenses

Bookkeeping isn’t only about the recording of sales, but also expenses. Expenses are a necessary part of any business. If you don’t keep track of your expenses, chances are you’re likely to run out of funds, or worse, you may get deep in debt.

Expenses turn out to be more tricky than one might think. People often assume expenses only include payments for office rent, utilities, loan repayments, or such. But business expenses are much broader than that. They could be anything that costs to run your business and are categorized into three groups: fixed, variable, and periodic expenses. Knowing which category each of your expenses falls into will help you manage them better.

Read also: 5 Tips to Control Your Business’ Expenses

6. Review financial data monthly

It’s critical to close the books on all financial transactions for the current month before moving on to the next. When you review transactions on a monthly basis, you’ll catch issues early and fix them quickly before they leak over into the next month. 

Other than that, reviewing financial data monthly helps a lot for your decision-making. By looking at the financial data you can determine whether your goals were achieved. Goals are an important part of running a successful business. 

For example, if your last month’s goal for sales revenue was $200,000 and you successfully achieved it, your business seems to be on the right track. On the other hand, if you fail to achieve your goals, you can quickly adjust your strategies to get everything back on track. 

7. Make a choice: professional bookkeeper or bookkeeping software? 

Many small business owners and managers take on the businesses’ bookkeeping management to save costs. As a result, the success of this task lies in their experience. But most of the time, their knowledge and experience are insufficient to handle this intricate job. 

If you ever find yourself in this awkward situation, there are two options: turn to a professional bookkeeper or adopt a bookkeeping software. Each of these solutions has its own advantages and disadvantages. Depending on your business size, model, and finance, you can determine which option fits best with you.

How can a professional bookkeeper help?

Bookkeepers are more experienced in handling records which could prevent errors that result in penalties on filing documents in the future. A bookkeeper provides you with a fresh perspective on your business, such as suggestions on managing your budget better and running your company.

However, the price of hiring a professional bookkeeper can break your bank. The average salary of a bookkeeper is $45,088, which means you have to pay them more than $3,000 per month. Unless you’re a big firm, whether to hire a bookkeeper should involve  serious consideration.

How can bookkeeping software help?

Bookkeeping management software are a better solution for small businesses, as they can do the same job as a bookkeeper and cost only a fraction of a bookkeeper’s salary. There are many names that you’ve always heard of such as  QuickBooks, Xero, or Shoeboxed. Bookkeeping management software developed by Shoeboxed is an ideal tool for small business owners. 

With Shoeboxed, you can turn your receipts into data, organize them, make reports and analyze your current financial position at any time and anywhere. And Shoeboxed only costs from $18 to $54, depending on your business size. To get the most out of your bookkeeping management, get started with Shoeboxed for free!

The bottom line

Proper bookkeeping practice drives your company to success. It allows you to stay on top of your business transactions. What’s more, it streamlines your financial data management; hence, you can stay focused on growing your business.