The Content Strategist

Contently Case Story: Inside BBVA Compass’ Ambitious Mag Aimed at Main Street

Contently case stories is a series highlighting some of Contently’s most successful clients, and telling the stories of how we worked together to produce great content and great business results.

Lots of banks talk about helping customers with content, but few put their money where their mouth is. An occasional blog post here, an instructional video there—for most banks, that’s enough to check the customer service box.

But what if a bank did more? Enter Great Ideas for Small Business and MoneyFit, two publications launched this April by BBVA Compass with the help of Contently.

The publications are meant to provide guidance for two underserved audiences: small-business owners, for Great Ideas, and average folks looking for proven financial advice, for MoneyFit.

“We have a bank that’s made up of financial professionals who have a lot of knowledge and know how to make good financial choices,” said Amy Johnson, director of SEO and content marketing strategy at BBVA Compass, “and we wanted to make sure that we have a platform where they can connect with our audience. We want to make sure our expertise is accessible to the folks that need it. That’s our primary objective.”

By taking advantage of Contently’s network of freelance journalists, BBVA Compass has been able to scale this expertise to its liking—in these early stages, the company plans to publish 16 engaging, high-quality stories on each site every month. Add the fact that video content is on the way, and you’ve got the making of two impressive publications.

BBVA Compass realized early on that producing a huge amount of content wouldn’t be enough—striking the right tone was also crucial.

“I think the challenge is sounding like a human because we don’t always interact with our banks as people,” Johnson said. “These sorts of topics are human, and they’re real, and they should come across as human and real.”

To help find this tone, Contently provided BBVA Compass with experienced writers who have been producing friendly, informative financial articles their whole careers. Take Emma Johnson, who, besides starting her extremely successful blog WealthySingleMommy.com in 2012, has written for The New York Times and appeared on every talk show imaginable.

Visit either of BBVA Compass’ publications and you’ll find bright colors, smiling faces, and supportive article headlines. According to Johnson, the aesthetic is meant to reflect that the company legitimately cares for your financial well-being.

“We budget and look through our pantry and find ways to save money and teach our kids about finances the same way anyone else does,” Johnson said. “And we as a bank have a real interest and a real passion for making sure our consumers are well-equipped to make good decisions where they can do whatever their passion is.”

Johnson gives the example of her neighbor, who’s an artist looking for financial advice—she’d much rather have her neighbor focusing on art rather than worrying about her financial future. And that’s where MoneyFit comes in.

MoneyFit focuses on life stages—graduation, a birth of a child, buying a home—and advice for those in times of great financial stress. It also features more general financial overviews of big topics such as auto loans and credit cards, which can often be predatory ventures for consumers if they’re not informed.

Great Ideas for Small Business features similar formats, except the focus—if you couldn’t tell by the name—is on small-business owners. Articles range from educational lists, stories of tweets gone wrong, and more specific guides such as how to apply for an SBA loan.

Great Ideas has also begun to host events for small-business owners, meant to “bring together business leaders in the community and small-business leaders, and discuss topics that are really important in the community,” according to Johnson.

It’s easy to cynically write off the publication’s goals as simple brand building—which the team would readily admit is an undeniable part of the initiative—but there’s a lot to be said for bankrolling finance publications meant to help everyday folks instead of big-time investors.

Overall, the blogs have electrified the team behind them, who feel like they’re serving those who need the help the most.

“I think in the financial industry, that’s something really remarkable,” Johnson explained. “And it’s something I can tell you I have not necessarily encountered in other financial institutions. [We’re] honestly just encouraging consumers to make decisions that are best for them whether or not it’s best for our bottom line, and I think that’s amazing.”