Community Banks Hit the Small Screen

By Kate Young

What is your bank doing to observe Community Banking Week?

The question seemed simple enough when it appeared on the ABA Bank Marketing Network group site early this February. Who knew the passion it would ignite? Who could have predicted the response? Who was even aware that Community Banking Week is a thing?

If you can’t answer any of those questions, you’d better start paying attention to the community bankers out there. You might learn something.

Because, as if it were the most natural thing in the world, 20 distinct financial institutions set aside competition. And over the course of just a few weeks, they banded together and filmed enough footage to make two videos that celebrate and promote community banking. Then they got one of the nation’s leading financial marketing firms to do the technical work. For free.

The result: a succinct, unique, emotionally compelling way for banks to showcase what community banking means to them, and why it’s so important to the American consumer.

20 Banks. 2 Months. 2 Videos. How did they do it?

We asked David Kreiman, EVP of Marketing at Glenview State Bank in Glenview, Illinois. He’s the guy who came up with the idea and brought it to fruition.

First, some background: For years, the ABA Bank Marketing Network has provided a password-protected online gathering place for bank marketers to ask questions, trade solutions, commiserate, and support each other in their shared profession. They’re the kind of folks who would make the effort to promote Community Banking Week—an event observed at various times by different state associations (and across the entire month of April by the Independent Community Bankers Association). They’re also the kind of folks who would talk through their ideas.

When Kreiman saw the discussion thread on the network, he got to thinking. “Video—if done right—is the most compelling way to get a message across,” he said. (He’s not alone in this assessment. At a recent panel at the ABA Government Relations Summit, experts from Google, Twitter, and Facebook discussed the particular power of video.)

Kreiman added, “If we each put together a small clip, and we got someone to put it all together in a way that didn’t look like a fourth grader did it, we’d have something.”

Within a week, he laid out a game plan and posted it on the network. Interested banks were instructed to let him know they’re in, send him a 10-second script during the following week, then film and submit a 10-second clip by the end of the month.

Then they brought in the big guns.

It helped that everyone recognized the agency that volunteered to do the post-production work—Pannos Marketing, which put it all together at no cost. “I said I’d love to help out,” Jim Pannos told us. “There was no reason say ‘no.’”

In the end, the project brought in 20 video clips from 20 banks, at 10 seconds each—enough to produce two videos. Pannos wove together ten of the bank clips for each video, then sandwiched them between a Pannos-produced intro and ending, which is the same for both videos.

“What it all boils down to,” Pannos explained, “is there’s a difference in the way community banks treat their customers. We want to show what that’s worth.” He said that banks can use these videos on their social media, their websites, and on the video board in their branches. They can also distribute the link to employees to remind them of the value of community banking.

“We thought it was important that it didn’t look overly produced,” Pannos said. “This gets down to the grassroots. You don’t want it to be slick. You want to be genuine.”

Why did they do it?

Video “checks off more sensory boxes” than other channels, Pannos said. Community banking is about human engagement. And this project gives customers the opportunity to identify their own hometown banks, to recognize their bankers who take care of them and make their loans.

Kreiman pointed out that many organizations offer a marketing toolkit to help banks promote Community Banking Week/Month, but he added that the communications tools tend to be generic. “Banks can customize it with their logo,” he said, “But the reality is that community banks serve their own unique community.” And it’s important to reflect that.

“We all fight the same battle,” Kreiman said. “We just fight it in separate communities. This is a way for us, from a united front, to tell our story together.”

Here’s a list of the participating banks.

Glenview State Bank, Glenview, Illinois

Pelham Banking Company, Pelham, Georgia

Americana Community Bank, Sleepy Eye, Minnesota

FNB Staunton, Staunton, Illinois

Two Rivers Bank, Blair, Nebraska

East Cambridge Savings Bank, Cambridge, Massachusetts

First National Bank of Steeleville, Steeleville, Illinois

First Bank Richmond, Richmond, Indiana

Sutton Bank, Attica, Ohio

Alliance Bank, Francesville, Indiana

Walden Savings Bank, Montgomery, New York

Marquette Bank, Chicago, Illinois

First Capital Bank of Texas, Midland, Texas

Shelby County State Bank, Harlan, Iowa

1st National Bank, Berlin, Wisconsin

Franklin Savings Bank, Franklin, New Hampshire

1st Security Bank, Mountlake Terrace, Washington

First American Bank NA, Hudson, Wisconsin

Citizens Independent Bank, Minneapolis, Minnesota

ANB Bank, Colorado Springs, Colorado

Kate Young is the content editor of Email: [email protected]

A benefit to individual membership in the ABA Bank Marketing Network is the ability to converse through the ABA Bank Marketing Network’s group site—a members-only discussion group.