Q&A with Christoph Woermann, CMO Corporate Bank, Deutsche Bank

Christoph is Chief Marketing Officer for Deutsche Bank’s Commercial Bank division. Fresh from attending the first ever virtual Sibos conference and organising DB’s own virtual Festival of Finance, we asked him to share his thoughts on how Deutsche Bank has adapted its marketing strategy to meet the challenges of Covid-19.

As a true Sibos veteran, what did you make of this year’s digital event?

At Deutsche Bank we have a longstanding relationship with SWIFT who organise the event. For us, as for many other institutions, Sibos is the most important annual conference in the financial services space.

The SWIFT team has put in a huge amount of effort into delivering a seamless and interactive digital conference to ensure that the industry dialogue can continue − despite the current challenging circumstances.

The new virtual format with sessions occurring consecutively gave us more time to delve into key trends impacting the capital markets, payments, and trade. Fireside chats created more openness and opportunity for unscripted conversation with peers. The flexibility to quickly change rooms was also a positive experience.

Beyond attending Sibos itself, at Deutsche Bank you put together a concurrent digital event – the Festival of Finance. Could you tell us a little more about this?

Across the Sibos week we ran our inaugural Festival of Finance on a virtual 3D platform. We wanted to foster the interactive community networking spirit of Sibos and offer further topics of discussion to the finance industry. The result was an immersive avatar-based blend of networking and high-level lectures − in addition to a range of DB-specific sessions and experiences.

We let users assume the roles of customisable virtual avatars to make the Festival attendance a captivating experience and to create opportunities for genuine real-time interaction. For example, we incorporated physical movement through desk-side yoga sessions, with poses that could be done at home or in the virtual realm. Our developers also used “sound grids”, which are virtual spaces where all users can hear and speak to one another in real-time.  This meant that when participants were at our virtual DB stand or in the networking beach area, they could not only see other participants with their name and company information but also talk to them as if they were in a physical conference environment.

Will the experience of delivering these virtual events change conferences in future?

I believe the learnings brought by these fully digital events will be relevant for years to come. My expectation is that we’ll see an increase in hybrid event models, where organisers tailor events with exclusive physical access elements and digitally streamed components to allow for greater choice and attendance flexibility. There is a significant additional revenue opportunity for event organisers to increase overall participation numbers by offering “virtual-light” content streaming tickets in addition to physical attendance tickets going forward.

At Deutsche Bank, you publish the award-winning magazine, flow. How have you evolved the magazine during the pandemic?

We quickly realised that traditional forms of engagement and meetings would be off limits, so we leapt into action by adapting our marketing approach.

We started a regular Covid-19 dossier section on our digital content hub and partnered with our research team to publish articles weekly. Topics included the impact of Covid on inflation, technology initiatives that support SMEs and top tips for corporate clients. These highly relevant articles were distributed to all our registered subscribers as part of our weekly flow newsbite email routine. We also introduced an updated new online format of our flow magazine to complement the usual print format.

In addition, we launched a new flow podcast series, enabling us to deliver short form verbal summaries hosted by our editorial team and featuring guests, including clients and industry partners.

In June we started with our Deutsche Bank Corporate Bank LinkedIn channel, helping further leverage a multi-channel approach to leverage flow content. Since its inception, we have surpassed 26,000 followers already, an astonishing figure considering that we target a focussed B2B audience. This showed us how receptive readers are for insights delivered in the right tone and format.

What lessons can be learned from the last few months, regarding content marketing?  

Pandemic or no pandemic, knowing your audience is key. Understanding how audiences connect with the wider world, particularly during lockdown, informed our content strategy. Our takeaway is that, now more than ever, insight should deliver a simple, clear message – as media is muddled by ambiguity.

Maintaining consistency is also vital in ensuring that our messages land. Then, by sticking to our basics, such as the weekly newsbite routine, we establish trust and familiarity with our audience.

Finally, our efforts to customise content based on clients’ pain points and telling the story from their eyes helped us build authenticity. This elevated our position from a pure play corporate content delivery mechanism to offering incisive editorial insights. For us, it’s all about keeping your ear to the ground and telling the story behind the story.