By Walt Albro
In the past, a bank would pay to deliver its marketing messages on radio and TV. But over time, the air waves got cluttered. People stopped listening and viewing.
Eastern Bank (assets: $9.5 billion), a savings bank in Boston, decided recently to try something different. Instead of buying space for a TV ad, Eastern posted lengthy videos for free on YouTube. Then it promoted the videos online and through news media.
The result was huge viewership. One two-minute video attracted 250,000 views. Attracting viewers was not difficult, because these are not ordinary videos. They are not about bank products or services. In fact, the bank’s name is only mentioned as an aside.
These videos tell moving, emotional stories about ordinary people—bank customers—who have performed or received some form of generous community service.
Joe Bartolotta, executive vice president and chief marketing officer, says the bank benefits through the “halo” effect: The financial institution receives credit for spotlighting the unselfish acts of others.
To date, Eastern has produced three videos. One story is about a New Hampshire woman whose husband (a bank customer) owned a popular pizza parlor and was a well-known member of the community. The wife had never been deeply involved in the business side of the restaurant. Her life was disrupted when her beloved husband died unexpectedly at age 54. The woman threw herself into learning how to run the parlor, among other reasons, in order to save the jobs of those who worked at the restaurant.
The couple had long desired to remodel the restaurant, but, in the press of events, had never been able to get around to it. For a surprise, the woman’s daughters, employees and an Eastern loan officer lured the woman out of town for the weekend, while the entire parlor was upgraded. The owner was videoed as she returned to the restaurant, crying tears of appreciation.
Bartolotta says the video was promoted through Facebook and by notifying various news outlets. “What you have is a new way to tell a story and distribute content,” he adds.
Walt Albro is the content manager for the ABABankMarketing.com. Email: Walbro@aba.com.