By Michelle Barone-Lepore
In 2016, Rhinebeck Bank launched a morning talk show, Wake Up with Rhinebeck Bank.
Talk show production probably isn’t what you’d think of as a routine bank activity, but for us it’s become a weekly offering. Why? We saw an opportunity to build a buzz in the community, increase the bank’s brand awareness, and ultimately, increase loan volume. So we partnered with our local news network, HVNN—Hudson Valley News Network—to create the first-ever Hudson Valley, Monday morning webcast.
What we do.
We record each episode in advance, edit, and then schedule it for a particular date to be published on Facebook. Special guests range from employees to local business owners, not-for-profit executives, and elected officials—all having some relationship with the bank.
Employees featured on the show take the opportunity to talk about the bank as a whole, its ties to the community, and current products and services, among other topics. Local businesses usually discuss their background and how they got to where they are. They also spread the word about their business and how it affects the local economy. Not-for-profits come on the show to share the history of the organization, how they help the community, and what events they have coming up.
The advantages we’ve seen.
For all guests, being on Wake Up with Rhinebeck Bank is an opportunity for valuable exposure. We want to give guests an entertaining way to showcase their organization and the benefits they bring to the region, the people, and the economy. We provide equal value to viewers by educating them on important Hudson Valley resources and happenings.
We see it as a win-win marketing campaign for all parties involved. The show allows Rhinebeck Bank to strengthen their relationships, stay top of mind to potential new customers, and provide existing customers with an avenue for promotion, which in turn creates brand loyalty. More customers are now requesting to be featured on the show so they can share their messages, initiatives, and stories. It has become a great way to stay connected to our local community and to give our audience a connection to us in a more personal way.
The challenges we’ve faced.
All good things take work, and the show is not without its fair share of challenges. First, the Wake Up with Rhinebeck Bank team has to make sure we have a significant number of willing guests, and then make sure those guests have a good understanding of the show’s concept and goals. Then there are the many potential legal guidelines to follow. For compliance purposes, we must ensure that everyone on camera is aware of what can and cannot be said on the show. This is a major concern during production.
Another major obstacle is balancing production and content to the budget. Many shows are taped in the studio with a green screen, but a number have also been filmed at off-site locations. Getting great, entertaining episodes is extremely important, but at the right price. Filming certain guests on location at their business has significant benefits, especially for ones like outdoor sports complexes, museums, and breweries. Capturing the physical locations for businesses like these better highlights their offerings than the studio could. These decisions, however, had to be carefully considered in order to stay within budget.
The lessons we’ve learned.
We learned a lot during and after season one. With regard to production, we learned the importance of quality editing. And it’s true that there is “no show without B-roll”—the supplemental or alternative footage intercut with the main shot.
Viewer feedback, however, reinforced the importance of content. Viewers preferred concise episodes that were more about the story a guest had to tell than a general interview. But they also expected that story to include some form of entertainment and/or interesting content.
The most important lesson we learned however, was how successful the show could be. My co-host Mark Malone and I have visited several local events since the show began airing, and at each one people have shown excitement about the show and talked about how much they loved it. This has advanced the bank’s goals of building a community buzz and brand awareness.
Prior to the launch of the show, the bank had no video content and very little social media presence. Viewers in the community responded so well to the show, however, that episodes have averaged over 9,000 views each on Facebook. Some particularly popular episodes have reached over 17,000 views, and one got over 33,000 views alone. As of June 2017, the Wake Up with Rhinebeck Bank videos have totaled over 500,000 views, with a reach of just over 900,000 people (Numbers via Facebook Insights).
The show’s effect on business.
In addition to the show’s popularity—and the associated social media success—the show had a noticeable effect on the bank’s business. Rhinebeck’s goal for asset growth was 4.00%-6.00%, but ultimately achieved a growth rate of 8.15%, totaling over $54 million in asset growth.
Rhinebeck Bank had been struggling to produce loans in the earlier part of 2016, but after the launch of the show (in the later part of the year) we saw a clear increase in loan volume. Total commercial loan production for 2016 totaled $133.8 million as compared to $88 million in 2015—an increase of 29%. We also saw a significant increase in residential mortgage applications in the first few months after launching the show.
We’ve since heard back from every guest that has been featured on the show, and they have all had positive feedback to share.
- Mental Health America of Dutchess County’s video reached over 33,000 views and was shared over 250 times. Wake Up with Rhinebeck Bank’s visibility was so far-reaching that the organization soon received enough donations to get a service dog for one of its patients.
- Hudson Valley Distillers—while filming their episode of Wake Up with Rhinebeck Bank—discussed growing their business. That conversation resulted in them applying for a commercial loan with Rhinebeck Bank. Being featured on the show gave Hudson Valley Distillers a great opportunity to talk with the bank’s representatives and get publicity, while Rhinebeck Bank was able to add another loan to its portfolio. The distillery has even had multiple new customers visit the tasting room because they saw the distillery on the show.
This has been a benefit for all parties involved. It works for the bank and our featured community partners. We’ve truly built a community presence through Wake Up with Rhinebeck Bank. We’re now top of mind for community members and at the top of local residents’ newsfeeds on social media each week.
With the success of season one still being celebrated, we’ve already launched season two.
The feedback from viewers and the resulting increase in business indisputably support the value of the show. We frequently get inquiries from organizations that want to be featured, and receive updates from previous guests detailing how well their organizations are doing after being on the show. Rhinebeck Bank is proud to have launched this new initiative, and is overjoyed with how successful it has been for the community.
Michelle Barone-Lepore is senior vice president of Marketing at Rhinebeck Bank in Poughkeepsie New York. Email: [email protected].