If your bank was a candidate, what would your message be and would be it memorable?

By John Oxford

“Just because you do not take an interest in politics does not mean politics won’t take an interest in you.”—Pericles.

“Just because you do not take an interest in managing your money does not mean your money won’t take an interest in managing you.”—Pericles, Michael Scott.

This week ended, or sort of ended, the voting portion of the 2020 presidential election and, regardless if your choice wins, there is a lot to learn from voting and presidential campaign marketing. And what better time to review this as voter fatigue is now at an all-time high, right?

Voting is the minimum wage of citizenship. You can do much more, serve in the armed forces, be a teacher, be a public servant, etc. but voting is the least you can do as it’s free, happens once every couple of years and if you don’t do it, your ideas and community are at a significant disadvantage.

Similarly, having a bank account is the minimum wage of commerce. If you do not have a bank account, you are at a significant disadvantage.

So in a strange way and on a basic level, voting and banking are linked. Healthy voting makes for stronger democracies and healthy banking makes for stronger commerce and a stronger economy. When bank stocks are doing well, the economy is generally doing well. Thus, what can bank marketers take from the recent election?

We need to treat banking as if it is as important as voting. Although there are arguments that it is more important, on a day-to-day basis, one could argue that having a bank account is just as important as voting, but for this exercise let’s just think of your bank as a candidate.

What is your message? Campaigns that usually win have a great message that connects to the audience or electorate. A few noteworthy slogans are “It’s morning in America,” with Ronald Regan, “It’s the economy, stupid,” with Bill Clinton, “Compassionate Conservativism,” with George W. Bush, “Hope and Change,” with Barack Obama, and of course, “Make America Great Again,” for Donald Trump.

No matter your political persuasion, all of these messages influenced presidential elections, and it is difficult to recall the message their opponents had.. If your bank was a candidate, what would your message be and would be it memorable? Remember: Good taglines are five words or less, give an action statement and provide some message of value of what your brand does for your clients.

Who is your target market for this message? Each candidate message above was meant to target a certain voter or movement. Who is your bank’s messaging targeting?

Another eerily similar voter and campaign to bank marketing issue: Conversion matters. If you cannot turn out your votes, you lose. With banking, if you cannot convert prospects to the bank, you’ll lose as well. As we’ve seen in the 2020 elections, many states, due to COVID-19, attempted to make voting easier. As the pandemic accelerated digital banking, banks, for the same reason, must make banking easier.

Other election day issues that relate to voting include, of course, being able to find your polling place, should you be voting in person. Banking is similar in that your clients must be able to find you—whether at your physical locations or online. If voters cannot find their precinct poll locations, they cannot vote. If your client cannot find your location or figure out how to open an account with you online, they cannot bank with you. Thus, having a good location finder on your site as well as a smooth account opening process is paramount to success.

Finally, usually in political races the most money wins. In banking, the same could be said about the one with the most marketing dollars. As budget season is now here, be sure you have the firepower you need to market your bank successfully in 2021 even as there will no doubt be belt tightening in our industry.

As we the people vote more than we change bank accounts—every other year vs once every seven years on average, respectively—building your message, getting prospects to an easy conversion point and continuing to fund your marketing operations at a healthy level is more important than ever.

To hear our take on this and more crazy marketing stories, check out this week’s Marketing Money Podcast with Josh Mabus of the Mabus Agency and me.

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