Seven marketing strategies to help banks attract business customers

In the face of marketing challenges, banks that embrace enhanced marketing techniques are most successful attracting and retaining corporate clients.

By Bruce McMeekin

Banks face multiple challenges in their quest for more stable growth. Because startups and enterprise organizations are critical to banks’ bottom lines, finding ways to attract new companies and keep current ones in the pipeline must be a priority. Banks can keep their business portfolios vibrant by tweaking established strategies or adopting new ones.

Enhanced marketing techniques can provide a new platform for success, but before diving into strategies, let’s first discuss common bank marketing pitfalls.

Marketing barriers

When the pandemic forced banks to tighten their belts, marketing was one area many banks looked to for cost savings. Two years after U.S. banks dropped their marketing spending by 18 percent, five prominent American bankers (American Express, Bank of America, Capital One, Citibank and JPMorgan Chase) poured more than $1 billion into their marketing efforts.

Despite their increased marketing spend, they still needed help attracting new clients. Why? Many of these banks’ core systems lacked the capability to store and manage essential marketing data. This includes information such as sales data, industry insights and their customers’ contact information. Without this data on hand, banks cannot target and personalize their marketing efforts effectively.

The existing infrastructure of many of these legacy systems often makes it difficult to integrate seamlessly with customer relationship management platforms. Customer relationship management applications are crucial tools for managing customer relationships and delivering targeted marketing campaigns. If core systems cannot interface cleanly with CRM platforms, banks cannot leverage current customer data effectively for marketing purposes.

Another common pitfall lies with the current third-party B2B lists. Many of these lists are comprised of postal data, which creates challenges in today’s hybrid world. It is also common for contacts to change jobs frequently, making outreach to specific decision makers all the more challenging. When relying on these lists, finding fresh information with the right contact at the right company with the right address and sales revenue can be a huge challenge.

The value of corporate customers

Here are seven factors that set apart banks finding marketing success:

1. They study their customers and understand the unique needs of target segments. These banks utilize data segmentation, firmographic data and daily-refreshed CRM platforms to best serve current clients and find new clients with similar profitability attributes. These banks know their segments and make marketing decisions based on each segment’s attributes. They position lending, deposit and cash management products to satisfy each segment’s unique needs and cash cycles.

2. They understand lifetime value to evaluate incentive offers. Banks that understand the lifetime value of their customers will regularly use high-value offers to attract and retain clients. For example, some banks will offer a business credit card with a 0 percent annual percentage rate for 12 months or more to attract and retain business clients, knowing that this short-term investment in a portion of their lending portfolio will maximize long-term profitability for the portfolio.

3. They have a robust and data-driven strategy. These banks know how to utilize data in decision-making and strategy. If they don’t, they hire a third-party vendor to help.

4. They do not assume they are always meeting the needs of their customers. These banks acknowledge that they could be better and proactively seek feedback. They will task sales with surveying their current customers, look at what other banks are doing, and pivot accordingly.

5. They invest in a CRM. These bank marketers will work with their IT and operations teams to build this system and integrate all the necessary information to make it useful to their bank. They use hyper-refreshed application programming interface solutions, such as RelPro and ZoomInfo, to integrate with Salesforce, HubSpot, and other CRMs to make their outreach run smoother.

6. They integrate marketing and sales. Marketing and sales professionals may be wired differently, but they need each other to succeed. Leadership teams that develop shared growth objectives for both marketing and sales set the stage for improved collaboration and a higher likelihood of meeting or surpassing key performance indicators.

7. They keep compliance clued in. These banks involve compliance early in product and offer development. Compliance is no longer “the department of sales prevention” but rather a resource that can help institutions cleverly and compliantly develop product differentiation.

Harnessing and enhancing an institution’s data capabilities overcomes the historical hurdles that encumber business banking. Managing data and executing marketing with modern CRM platforms helps bridge the marketing and sales gap and improves the relevance of communications with customers and prospects alike.

Bruce McMeekin is CEO and founder of BKM Marketing, an integrated marketing agency based in the Boston area.