HSBC pushes deeper into content

In an attempt to change its image and come across as a more humane bank, HSBC has decided to try its hand at having real conversations with the public.

There is a need for the bank to really understand customers today. “This means there is a need to increase awareness and consideration and ultimately address customer’s different needs on growing wealth,” said Valerie Cheng, CCO at JWT, creative agency of HSBC.

But because people feel they are constantly “chased” for their cash by banks, explained Cheng, many don’t feel that they are given any room for variation. Hence, a customer-centric need based approach was introduced for the bank to stand out from the competition.

“Clearly if a bank aims to help people make the most of their money and life, it has to consider these changing factors which could differ from one country to another and look at the product and services it provides,” said Cheng.

To reach out to the mass public, HSBC decided that it had to move past the traditional print ads and online microsites and actually gather content on genuine public sentiment.

A new communication platform was needed to build the awareness of the needs-based approach that HSBC is taking. This saw HSBC venture into its Beyond Money conference.

Using Singapore as a testing ground for the Beyond Money conference, HSBC ran its first conference in early March, hosted by Diana Ser and present on stage were senior level executives from Singapore Tourism Board, Singapore Management University and Singapore Council of Women’s Organisation and many others.

Topics discussed included: Nurturing your children, Reevaluating retirement and Women's roles today. The local media and members of the public were also invited to share their thoughts and concerns.

During the conference itself, a small group of attendees also signed up as a test group to gauge the receptivity of topics discussed during the event. 30 people got to put on a special ‘pulse’ watch which monitored their emotional reactions throughout the event.

Each of them were later interviewed individually to understand what they felt resonated with the most and why. These insights are currently being used by the bank to better understand what people want and how they can improve their services and products.

Content of conversations had during the event were then curated and published online. Moreover, this content was bolstered with its partnership with TED, which is an on-ground event.

HSBC curated content relevant to its consumers from the TED site to further enrich the microsite with content which would get consumers talking.

“The point was to empower and educate the consumers. HSBC aimed to take on the role as a consultant. People could very well take the content and advice given on the microsite and go to a competitor but the ultimate aim was to educate the public,” said Cheng.

But that is not to say traditional media and advertising routes were completely discarded. A print campaign of six ads was the beginning of this journey, launching a month ahead of the conference. Meanwhile online video banners promoted the event to encourage the public to sign up.

Ultimately, the aim of HSBC is to run Beyond Money in more markets so that the content and conversation online will become more robust as countries learn and share the issues they face financially.