Still the Best Way to Connect

By John Oxford 

“The more things change, the more they stay the same” is a phrase coined by French writer Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr. (Thank you, Google.)  

Karr’s aphorism is how we as bank marketers should approach our media buying strategy as we look to my nowsecondmost-hated expression after “virtual meeting”: the “new normal.” 

With the average American now streaming eight hours of content per day, according to the Los Angeles Times, and as Josh Mabus and I discuss on the latest Marketing Money Podcast, your audience is looking for valuable content to consume.  

As many are cutting back on advertising spend, the ones that can stomach some sort of marketing expenditures should be able to take advantage of the void in ad spend if they choose the right channel with the right audience at the right time. But isn’t right channel with the right audience at the right time always the answer to successful content marketing? The more things change, the more they stay the same.  

So in this, how would one know about “finding that right audience?” A recent report, which we also reference heavily in this week’s podcast, breaks down the average time spent on media in the U.S. in minutes per day. Although we looked at the emarketer’s report as just one source for thoughts and discussion around media placement, it does create a conversation that all marketers should be having with bank decision makers, agencies and clients on where to spend your marketing dollars. As for this column, we’ll list three hot takes from this report and our discussions. 

Print is on the struggle bus. Or to be more specific, newspapers. This should come as no surprise to anyone. We don’t necessarily have anything against print as a medium, but we have no argument against the data which says that print is the least consumed media in 2020. On the random occasion we look at a physical newspaper, they are getting way thinner and have less and less actual content. Or to be more specific, less local content. Unless you are looking at a CD special for your market, newspaper print advertising doesn’t appear to be a very viable medium for you marketing dollars in 2020. We would put that under the Captain Obvious file and not even mention it, except that many banks are still making this mistake. If we don’t offer advice, why even write a column?  

People really don’t consume social media on a desktop or laptop. We found this to be a very interesting observation but it makes sense. If you’re at work, you most likely keep your social media consumption to your mobile device, and it’s pretty hard to take and post filtered Instagram photos with a desktop computer. Social media is part of the new mass intimacy theory of content consumption and mobile dominates as the device which social media is found. As a tactical takeaway, make sure that your social media content is created for mobile consumption. With this in mind, make sure any conversion campaigns that go beyond just branding are set up for easy usage on mobile.  

TV is still a very real medium for brand delivery. According to the report, Americans watch an average of 3.3 hours of TV per day. I don’t know who these Americans are, but a lot of people are obviously home and are apparently watching TV. (Side note/pro tip: Never ever base your media buy on your own personal media consumption preferences. Use data along with market and audience knowledge.) Now back to our lecture.   

The struggle with TV advertising is the very real placement challenge of broadcast versus cable versus streaming. Each has its own pluses and minuses. Broadcast offers high visibility and easier insertion but at a much higher placement cost. Cable offers much better affordability and targeting but lower visibility, and inserting a cable buy is almost an art form due to its fragmentation. And streaming offers a much more intense audience because they are choosing to consume the content, but your ability to get on it is extremely limited outside of sponsoring the content, product placement and producing the content yourself (all of which have multiple challenges from production costs to distribution issues).  

Beyond rehashing Mark Gibson’s excellent ABA Bank Marketing column about the role TV should still play in your advertising mix, which saves us time and effortthanks, Markwe’ll get straight to the tactical takeaway. It’s an easy one: Provide value in your messaging. This seems pretty simple, but what is your value proposition? Is it, “We’re all in this together?” Try again. While it feels good, it doesn’t necessarily provide value. This is similar in strength and stability messaging as a value proposition. If you are strong and stable, do you really need to say it? How about: Here is how we can help you and here is what we did to help you. Much better. But whatever message you decide to go with, it must provide value to the consumer. And TV, as Gibson writes, is still a great way to connect with your viewers, reinforce your brand, offer assistance and educate your clients. 

As bank marketers enter the “Summer of Forgiveness” where budgets will be uber-tight, we will have to make some tough decisions to be sure every marketing dollar spent is finding deep value. There’s that word again. To find value in your media spend, pay attention to the media consumption data and make wise placements based on what best fits your brand’s messaging.  

This all leads us back to “The more things change, the more things stay the same.” Even as media consumption may change and delivery tactics become more sophisticated, providing value will always be the winnereven in the dreaded “new normal.” 

To hear more about media data and bank marketing, listen to Josh Mabus of the Mabus Agency and me in the latest episode of the Marketing Money Podcast. 

John Oxford, director of marketing at Renasant Bank, and Josh Mabus, president of the Mabus Agency, are co-hosts of the Marketing Money Podcast.