Charles Schwab & Co. Inc. had a unique challenge: Most investors are happy with their current investment firms. Unlike in other categories, people are not always "shopping." So how could the company influence investors' perceptions of its brand and trigger a re-evaluation?
The answer, quite simply, was content. Content is the currency that Charles Schwab uses to earn investor trust, said Harsh Jawharkar, managing director of new channel development and content marketing at Charles Schwab & Co. In his presentation at the iMedia Brand Summit in Coronado, Calif., Jawharkar noted that it took the company more than two years to put in place a comprehensive content marketing program that integrates owned, paid, and earned media to engage consumers. This organizational shift, he noted, had to start at the top and be operationalized across disciplines including marketing, PR, advertising, and analytics.
The key to success for Charles Schwab was to think holistically. Content development in the form of articles, videos, and other assets is optimized for compelling experiences across web, mobile, print, and other venues. And the brand knows that it's not enough to just build the content -- it must be distributed in an equally holistic way via syndication, display ads, paid search, video, and more.
While strategy is key, Jawharkar noted that there was a bit of serendipity involved in its initial content marketing success. The company rolled out its strategy around the election, at a time when the biggest question on investors' minds was, "What is the fiscal cliff?" Charles Schwab was able to leap to the forefront by answering this question for investors via its new content strategy, thereby establishing trust among a group of investors who might not otherwise have been thinking about re-evaluating their current investment firm.
Within six months of the rollout of Charles Schwab's content marketing strategy, the company saw its interaction rate increase by orders of magnitude, with its cost per interaction dropping dramatically -- in short, the kind of results that make a CMO happy. Now, the company continues to focus on optimization and new channel development -- and to look for more of those timely questions that it can answer for investors.