Why does your bank or credit union have a website? I know the real answer is, “Because all the other financial institutions do.”
That’s apparent when I visit some FI websites, as I do every week.
Certainly, some financial institutions have great sites. Full of useful information. Easy to use. Well designed.
Your financial institution must market the advantages and selling points you have that make your institution different from your competitors. That’s because most consumers believe all banking accounts are much the same.
Sure, consumers know the difference between free checking and fee checking. They compare rates for loans and CDs. But if that’s the only criteria they know about, then you can’t blame them for driving to your competitor’s branch.
The fundamental banking account for consumers is the checking account. When you ask an individual where he or she banks, the name of the bank or credit union you hear is the one where the person has a primary checking account.
So it’s logical that you want to gain new checking customers or encourage current non-checking customers to open a checking account.
Lately, I’ve noticed two points about bank and credit union marketing.
I watch for financial institution print ads, direct mail, billboards, even outdoor banners and lesser media. That statement is no surprise if you’re a regular reader of this blog.
Here’s my first point. Banks and credit unions are advertising again. Remember what it was like just a few years ago? Advertising budgets were slashed. No institution wanted to advertise because of the financial crisis. News stories about the crisis hit the papers and broadcasts daily.
Have you ever received an envelope from your elusive friend, J? It probably contained a torn-out newspaper story or magazine article. With the prevalence of home computers and printers, now J might send you a copy of a Web page.
You know J. Right?
Look at this bank’s checking promotion postcard and see if you can find the secret hidden there. (Click to enlarge.)
Time’s up. No, there’s not a secret message encoded in the light bulbs. For a clue, read the last line of the long subhead: “…and a Free Gift!”
It’s that time of year again. Many marketers throw out the old advertising to make way for something fresh and new. Great idea. Right?
I don’t mean to throw a wet blanket on your exciting new marketing campaign designs, but I’m sure you’ve heard an old adage that goes something like this: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
If I was there when a marketer said, “We’ve used the same design for months. We need something new,” I’d reply, “Have your results gone down lately?”
Who or what is the most important aspect of your advertising? You can tell the correct answer by the headline on this post.
I saw a marketing tip for retailers that said their holiday marketing should focus on the customers.
My advice — customers should be your year-round focus.
It’s free. It doesn’t take much of your time. You get information that can help you and your bank or credit union.
Sounds like a pretty good deal.
There’s a new webinar for bank and credit union marketers called “Merge Traditional Marketing with Social Media for 2013.” It includes key points like these:
- Why the merger of traditional marketing and social media is important for 2013
- How to create a workable calendar for both traditional marketing and social media
- Ideas that help you build your own blended marketing program
A couple of months ago, I wrote about a series of newspaper ads a credit union used that featured stories of members and offered fundraising opportunities for special projects.
I predicted the series of similar-looking ads would continue to appear the first week of the following months. That prediction came true, but I was surprised by another ad that popped (or hopped) into the picture. I’ll show you the ads and you judge which type you think will attract more business.
On October 7 and November 11, the fourth and fifth of the series of ads appeared in the newspaper. Like their predecessors, they featured a Member of the Month and a fundraising appeal. (Click on the images for a larger view.)
Does your marketing strategy steal from one pocket to fill another?
I’ll approach the issue in terms of direct mail quantities, but the same principles apply to all your advertising.
1. Steal from one market and give to another. This typically happens when a new market opens or when one market is underperforming and needs a boost.
As a professional copywriter, I try to be clear and succinct when I write copy. But sometimes when I write a rationale, I get a little wordy. That’s why I was impressed when I read the rationale one of my colleagues wrote for a promotional piece we prepared for a client.
With three numbers positioned on the small thumbnail of the design, he summarized most of the reasoning behind the design.
Even community banks and credit unions find they have branches that don’t open the expected number of new accounts. The numbers of customers/members who use the branch fall below expectations. Staff and resources are underutilized.
Bigger financial institutions almost certainly have branches like those described.
It sounds like an idea a bunch of guys would come up with in a bar after a long night of imbibing. In other words, not the most rational or remotely practical decision.
In this drama, the role of the bunch of guys is played by the Vermont Bankers Association.
The VBA sued the Vermont State Employees Credit Union for using the tagline “Redefining Banking” in its advertising.
“…72 percent of Americans said they would consider switching banks if their financial institution raised its fees on checking accounts….”
That quote comes from an article on the Bankrate website where the author summarizes a Bankrate study that focused on banking fees. The 72 percent figure is up from 64 percent Bankrate recorded in 2011.
That’s not all. An ABC News story covering the same Bankrate consumer study says those households with annual income of $75,000 or more are the most likely to switch (82 percent).
Besides your current advertising, you also have a chance to make an even greater impression on prospects by inserting your corporate name into activities where people have fun.
Maybe you’ve seen the Dos Equis beer commercials with The Most Interesting Man. His exploits would make James Bond envious. Riding the popularity of the character and theme, Heineken USA, maker of Dos Equis, launched The Most Interesting Academy. The promotional campaign includes a fleet of seven different, highly stylized food trucks that visit major cities and offer very non-traidtional munchies like jellyfish baguette and alligator tail empanadas.
I’ve seen it happen to dozens of financial institution marketing promotions. The bank or credit union tries to squeeze as many product promotions as possible into one mail piece.
That’s not only wrong, it’s ineffective.
I suppose there are plenty of reasons mixed messages happen: Office politics (“Their product line gets a promotion and we don’t!”), or an attempt to save money (“If we put everything in this one mailer we can eliminate the other three!”), or even inexperience, as well as others.
It’s ironic. A bank releases a video promo about a bomb plot and the campaign blows up in the marketer’s face.
You may already have heard or read about Commonwealth Bank’s YouTube video where one of its marketing campaign mascots in the story tries to smuggle a bomb into an Olympic venue.
Let’s all say it. “What were they thinking?”
More and more I see financial marketing professionals omit a premium offer from their promotions. I think it happens for a few common reasons.
- They think they’re saving money
- They don’t understand the positive reaction a premium generates
- They don’t know how a premium offer works
While saving money is at the top of the list, by addressing the second point I think I can show the fallacy of the first.
At the end of his post yesterday, Steve Topper asked, “Do you agree?” He was talking about the much stronger headline on a credit union newspaper ad compared to the same FI’s ad that ran earlier.
Yes, I agreed. Then a thought flashed through my mind.