By Keith Brannan
Companies everywhere and across all industries are racing to find ways to better engage with, and market to, consumers. For community bankers, that race has a special set of challenges. They often wear many hats in order to tackle big goals, all with limited resources. With a small branch presence, a few advertisements circulating, and a few perks to offer, they have to work smart to avoid being overlooked by potential customers.
It takes strategic advertising and marketing for any bank to raise awareness. For megabanks, that mandate comes with mega-budgets. Bank of America, for example, was not long ago spending about $1.6 billion annually on media, according to the AdAge Datacenter. It hardly needs to be said, but community banks are working with less.
The truth is this—smaller banks can succeed in their markets, even with their proportionately small budgets. They must become visible to potential new customers by recognizing what consumers really want, and strategically marketing to them.
It’s a matter of getting more out of existing resources, marketing teams, and modest budgets—and learning how to market like a megabank.
5 ways to maximize resources:
1. Reduce marketing waste. You can no longer afford to simply focus on local consumers. It is imperative to identify and interact with customers who have the highest potential for engagement. For instance, what if you knew that certain consumers were three times more likely to buy certain products of yours? By leveraging existing customer data and consumer modeling techniques, you can identify those consumers and create long-lasting, profitable relationships.
This type of customer segmentation allows you to decide where to focus your attentions most heavily and where to invest the most effort and resources. By targeting these high opportunity consumer segments, you can reduce marketing waste and better utilize your existing budget.
2. Use technology and automation to market more efficiently. Today’s marketers are under constant pressure to do more with less—to increase sales and productivity with fewer resources and much less time.
With marketing automation, you can have an “always on” approach throughout each stage of the consumer’s life cycle—as a prospect and a current customer—all powered by data. Trigger-driven programs, for example, allow you to automate email campaigns by building the infrastructure to trigger communication that is most relevant to that consumer. This increases your program’s effectiveness while also improving the overall consumer experience.
Leveraging technology can also reduce the time required to create marketing assets and speed up the steps for loading, sizing, and editing visuals. As an alternative, you can partner with companies that have consumer-tested creatives to remove this task from your plate altogether.
With the right technology tools, you can also reduce risk and gain efficiencies that help generate marketing messaging that is compliant with state and federal guidelines.
3. Don’t forget other marketing channels. Successful marketing isn’t accomplished through a single channel. Consumers frequently jump from one device to another throughout the day, every day, to complete various daily tasks. This makes it tough to catch their attention. In fact, according to research by Google, 90 percent of people shuttle between various devices to complete a product research task. For example, someone might see a car ad on TV, check it out further on a smartphone or tablet, and then do more intensive research on his or her laptop. Marketers must understand how people juggle these various devices and screens for various tasks, and target them in a way that is most appealing and appropriate depending on the channel.
To increase consumer engagement, multi-channel communications are a must. With the right partners and technology, you can manage campaigns across many channels—digital, email, print, billboards—to reach consumers in a way they want to interact. In turn, you achieve a higher return on your marketing dollars.
4. Maximize your frontline staff. Get the most out of your best-selling engine—your frontline staff. To do that, you must adhere to three key principles: staff proficiency, skilled leadership, and disciplined planning. By leveraging the power of the frontline staff, a real opportunity emerges for financial institutions to serve as an influential source of information while building awareness and educating customers.
Rather than just taking orders or settling income disputes, employees should be trained to serve consumers in a more consultative role. They should be initiating substantive conversations with consumers to determine their needs. This leads naturally to product recommendations that match those needs, increasing cross-sell potential at the point of sale. To encourage this role change and empower frontline staff, employees must be well trained on all products—and branch managers must be active leaders.
5. Be creative and resourceful. Let’s face it: you know your community. Use that knowledge to your advantage. Test ideas, be agile, and act with swiftness. If a marketing campaign fails, learn from it and create something different. Try again until you find something that works.
Meticulously designed marketing campaigns are a relic. As research on disruption and marketing transitions suggests, you’re better off these days if you can quickly identify and adapt to changes. If you don’t have many hoops to jump through internally, you can be more agile and have an easier time navigating marketing campaigns.
Better marketing creates greater engagement and profitability.
Creating a world-class marketing campaign with limited resources can be daunting, but it can be done. Community financial institutions must be smart with existing teams and budgets. These steps will not only help re-strategize your marketing efforts, but will allow you to focus on other areas of your institution like the innovation of new products and services. In turn, this leads to greater engagement and profitability.
Keith Brannan is chief marketing officer of Kasasa, an award-winning financial technology and marketing technology provider. Based in Austin, Texas, Kasasa assists more than 800 community financial institutions in establishing long lasting relationships with consumers residing in their local markets through its branded retail products, world class marketing capabilities and expert consulting. For more information, please visit www.kasasa.com, or visit them on Twitter @Kasasa, @KasasaNews, Facebook, or LinkedIn.