By Mark Gibson
Marketers are trained to manage crises, so we are in our element helping our institutions communicate with our colleagues, customers and communities. But what sometimes gets lost during crisis management are the normal everyday activities like producing and running brand or product campaigns. There are at least two schools of thought:
- We need to stop our advertising, because the world has changed.
- We need to keep our name out there and demonstrate that we are committed to helping our stakeholders get through these times.
The facts speak to the first school of thought. Digital advertising on large platforms has slowed, and pricing has fallen by a large margin. Not surprisingly, traditional media such as newspapers and TV have been hit even worse, with the Los Angeles Times reporting its advertising revenue is “almost eliminated.”
Bank marketers find themselves in a similar spot. Their budgets are under the spotlight and may have already been reduced. And their priorities have totally changed from when they put their plans together in December.
Maybe it’s a good time to take a step back from the rush of daily urgency, take some deep yoga breaths, and think about where we find ourselves.
First, the banking industry is pivotal to helping consumers, businesses and nonprofits get through this crisis. And if we don’t proactively tell that story and frame it properly, we leave it up to the government or the media to tell it for us.
Second, if there is less advertising going on out there, that reduces clutter and helps our message get through.
Finally, inventory is high and prices have dropped—so we can advertise at costs we have not seen in years.
If you have the money to advertise, you should absolutely be out there telling your story right now. But in which medium? Is there a role for TV? The short answer is yes.
Ironically, local TV viewership is up, as is digital video viewing, while advertising demand is down. That makes sense—half of America is stuck at home. For marketers with an eye for value, that is compelling.
But why TV versus any of the other media marketers have at their disposal, as most of them are also less expensive right now? Because consumers and business owners are in a heightened emotional time, worrying about their physical and financial well–being. And no other medium connects with viewers emotions as powerfully as TV or video.
Brands in other categories have quickly realized that now is a good time to communicate their brand in a powerful relevant way. Let’s start with some inspiration from this Uncle Ben’s spot that leverages the universal emotion of a young girl missing her grandmother. Key message: Great creative never goes out of style!
Wow, pretty powerful. And that’s rice! Banking is about peoples’ money and financial health. We have a very powerful story to tell. But we have to make sure we do it in a respectful relevant way. So, what have our peers been doing to leverage TV?
We’ve seen TV used to accomplish four objectives: connect with viewers in an emotional relevant way to enhance brand favorability; reinforce specific attributes of the bank’s brand; offer assistance to customers; and remind customers of all the digital channels available to them.
Connect with viewers emotionally
Citi’s “We Are Grateful For You” spot is in the same category as the Uncle Ben’s example – great creative that delivers a relevant message in an emotional way.
While ads like this can be tricky to pull off—they need to feel authentic and sincere—they can associate powerful positive emotions with your brand, which can benefit you the next time a consumer or business owner is shopping for a bank.
Citi has gone a step beyond, putting its money where its TV spot is. As its press release states: “The Citi Foundation has pledged support to the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund for the World Health Organization and No Kid Hungry as well as international, country specific efforts. Citi also matched public donations to No Kid Hungry and pledged additional funding in the U.S. to make financial counseling and technical assistance services available to small business owners.”
Reinforce your brand
Another important objective of TV right now is to emphasize a pillar or attribute of your brand position. A timely example of this is Avidia Bank, a commercial community bank in central Massachusetts. The bank immediately recognized an opportunity to reinforce its commitment to the local community and reinforce its brand. And it moved quickly, introducing this effective spot on March 30.
Offer assistance to customers
Consumers and business owners are not just worried about their health. They are worried about their money too! This is an important time for your institution to provide advice and assistance to help your customers best manage their finances and take advantage of any applicable government program. Arvest Bank does a nice job with this video, connecting emotionally then offering up a call to action for direct assistance to customers.
For more than 50 years Arvest Bank has been helping people. Now, in this time of uncertainty, we remain here and ready to help. Find out more at arvest.com/covid-19
Posted by Arvest Bank on Wednesday, April 1, 2020
Educate on digital channels
Digital channels like mobile deposit have been around for a while, but with branch services curtailed or limited to drive-throughs, there is a new urgency to educate our customers about all the virtual channels we have for them to interact with us. This Chase TV spot doesn’t specifically address the current crisis, but it does a very nice job of demonstrating the functionality of mobile banking, and Chase has been running it frequently.
Bank marketers should take it from here
Banks have a critical role to play in this crisis, and bank marketers are in the thick of it. Now is a great time to tell your story as a trusted member of your community. Be sure to consider TV as a component of your media mix as you plan your immediate campaigns, and make sure TV and online video have a role in maintaining an educational and emotional bond with your customers and communities as we all move to better times.
Mark Gibson is senior consultant at Capital Performance Group, a strategic consulting firm that provides advisory, planning, analytic and project management services to the financial services industry. He can also be reached on LinkedIn.