By Monica C. MeinertAttracting, retaining and growing customer relationships are perennial goals for all banks, but in 2018, there will be subtle shifts in how institutions go about it, according to the American Bankers Association’s recent survey of bank CEOs.
When asked about which marketing strategies were effective, 59 percent agreed that radio ads were still effective, while only 27 percent planned to buy TV advertising. Sixty-eight percent said they liked the more targeted aspects of email, while 61 percent said they plan to use direct mail, 77 percent favored social media and 80 percent said they planned to use printed display ads. Eighty percent said that local, in-person events would play a role in their 2018 marketing efforts.
“The old days of advertising in newspapers are gone,” observes Charie Zanck, CEO of American Community Bank and Trust in Woodstock, Ill. “We are segueing from the old paradigm, from the old-fashioned mediums to social media and website with a continued emphasis on the personal interaction with clients. We’ve always one one-on-one business development and small group client events, but now it is even more important.”
Service is the best advertising
While marketing creates awareness, CEOs almost unanimously agreed that personal service was the most effective strategy for growing customer relationships.
“We target and market to locally owned, closely held companies,” says Bryan Luke, COO of Hawaii National Bank in Honolulu, whose motto is “Home of Warm-Hearted Bankers.” “We try to provide customized, personalized services to all of our customers, as we would if we were the customer service group of a larger bank providing personalized, customized banking.” Luke says that the bank typically sets out to gain a business client, and then works to get that client’s personal banking business as well.
Social media is also continuing to play an even greater role in community banks’ marketing efforts. Fifty-two percent of respondents to the ABA survey plan to increase or significantly increase spending on social media, while 43 percent will sustain their current level of social media usage—and almost no one plans to cut back.
“We want to pursue social media because that’s the banking of today, and that’s how the millennials are banking, that’s how the people are accessing information,” says Deborah Cole, president and CEO of Citizens Savings Bank and Trust in Nashville, Tenn.
Banks are using their social media accounts in creative ways to educate, inform and entertain. It’s a valuable tool for reaching customers in an engaging, interactive and personal way while underlining the message that banks are committed partners in the community.
“A good portion of our marketing dollars are in social media, particularly Facebook,” says Rheo Brouillard, president and CEO of Savings Institute Bank & Trust in Willimantic, Conn, who credits his social media managers for driving clicks and converting that engagement to online account openings. “In 2018, we’re continuing to look at the results and refine what we’ve started to do over the last couple of years.”