At Alcott Whitney, our leadership team comes to the table with combined experience of more than 30 years helping banks grow and exceed their marketing targets. Based on our work with some of the brightest clients in the industry at institutions like Wachovia, Regions Financial and National City Bank, we've put together 5 top to-dos for bank marketers. In the business? Let us know what we should add to this list.
1. Understand your market opportunities and allocate resources accordingly. For example, we know that last year, upwards of 30 million business tax returns were filed in the United States. Just getting started are the roughly half of those businesses that are bringing in less than a million in annual revenue. At the top of the pyramid - and likely to have long ago chosen their business banking partner - are the 35,000 who are pulling in $100 million or more. That leaves a sweet spot of somewhere in the ballpark of 1.2 million small businesses earning between $1 million and $100 million each year. That's an awful lot of opportunity for financial institutions whose expertise lends itself to helping successful small businesses take the next big leap.
How to: Marshal your in-house marketing expertise, or hire a data and analytics agency that can pinpoint these opportunities and tailor messaging to them.
2. Leverage online behavior. How are potential customers using the web when it comes to researching and managing financial accounts? If they're searching for terms like "mortgage rates in Birmingham", "small business loans for women-owned businesses" or "refinancing my mortgage", then consider building web-based calculators on your site to help address their needs within the comfort and privacy of their own internet browsing. Be sure to optimize your calculators for mobile devices to reach women and people on the go. And - most importantly - create them as part of a lead-generation strategy so you can follow up and interact with those who have enlisted the help of your calculators and other online tools. Be sure to ask permission to gather an email or follow up.
How to: If you have in-house web development expertise, many calculator tools are easy and low-hanging fruit for your folks to create. Be sure to build in the lead-generation tools. Software services like HubSpot can help with this, or you can build this in-house.
3. Anticipate your next customers based on behavior and life stage. Are you selling college savings plans to parents of newborns? Mortgage refinancing to people who've owned a home for 3-5 years? Retirement planning for young professionals who've just earned a big promotion? If you know how to find specific groups of people along these consumer life stages, you can reach them with helpful materials when it matters most. Don't blitz them with a barrage of advertising messages and hope they'll file them away for when it one day matters. Be useful, helpful and timely for the moment you know it does.
How to: Partner with an agency skillful in acquiring and leveraging highly targted consumer lists to target direct campaigns either through digital, email, print or - best yet - an integrated media campaign.
4. Leverage your most important assets - your bankers and their wealth of expertise. We don't need to tell you what you already know, but in an age when so much of what we do can be done by leveraging smart technology, one maxim bears repeating: Nothing will ever replace a personal touch. Your bankers are not sales people, but they are the reason for every one of your customers. Make sure they - and their expertise - is seen, heard and tapped.
How to: In addition to getting your folks out into the community every chance you can, create campaigns that champion individual bankers and their backgrounds. Make it easy for bankers to introduce themselves to prospects in ways that don't feel sales pitchy or cold and don't require too much of their valuable time. This is where technology can help. (Ask us about our Consumer Direct Marketing portal, which we custom build to each banker's needs and communication style in mind.)
5. Deliver a highly personalized experience. Some banks offer fresh-baked cookies to everyone who walks into the grand, impeccable front lobby. Some sponsor every charity event in town. Some host lunch-and-learns for the entrepreneur community.
How to: Find your bank's niche and personalize an experience around the needs, expectations and pain points of that niche. This should be everything from what the room feels like when you walk through the front door, to what the emails look like when someone opens a new account, to what level of executive is involved in a small business banking consultation. Our friends at Avenue Bank are a great example of this. "Our locations feel like walking into a local coffee shop ... with freshly baked cookies, a fully stocked drink fridge, and local artwork hanging on the walls," said Avenue Assistant Vice President Mary Slater. "We strive to provide a true 'concierge-level' of service for every client, whether they have an account balance of $50 or $50 million."
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