Is Your Financial Institution’s Message Heard Amid Marketing Noise?
Nearly one in four consumers lack a solid understanding of all the products and services their financial institution offers, according to the 2017 Segmint Consumer Bank Marketing Report. The report goes on to reveal that 89 percent of consumers believe that their financial institution should be sending them more information than they are currently receiving.
Reaching prospective customers with the right message at the right time with the right offer can seem daunting. As if it is not challenging enough, community financial institutions must compete for market share against institutions deemed “too big to fail” that boast massive marketing budgets and pervasive brand recognition. Needless to say, it can be difficult to make your financial institution heard amongst all the marketing noise.
Still, despite the obstacles, there are elements of successful marketing and PR strategies that financial institutions of all sizes, regardless of budget, size or resource limitations, can employ to get their message heard by the right audience. In this blog post, we will examine the critical aspects of a solid marketing and PR program. These aspects should be the foundation of any institution’s marketing initiatives and can be easily tailored to fit the unique objectives of your bank or credit union and the resources available.
- Tout customer testimonials and success stories. In terms of marketing, there is arguably nothing more valuable than a customer testimonial. When your institution provides outstanding service to an account holder, it should be shared. Whether it’s a small business owner that was able to easily apply for a loan and quickly receive funds to grow their business, or a recent college graduate that opened a savings account with your institution to save for a down payment on their first home – these success stories can position your financial institution as a trusted organization within the community.
Customer testimonials are highly valuable because they come from a reliable source. Any financial institution can explain how great their products and services are but when it comes from the customer’s mouth, it multiplies in credibility. Simply adding a customer quote to the website or to a press release can go a long way. For more elaborate testimonials, make the most of it by sharing the story through a blog post on the website or through a social media campaign. It may even be newsworthy. Perhaps one of your customers is a business owner that is using a loan to expand his company, bringing new jobs to the local community. A local reporter may be interested in writing a news story on this, which can ultimately help bring prospective borrowers to your financial institution. This brings us to the next point, which is the importance of thoughtful media relations.
- Strategic and thoughtful media relations is crucial. Establishing and nurturing relationships with key media outlets and understanding the best ways to communicate with them will help position your institution as an expert and trusted source for all things finance. It is a good idea to spend some time researching the publications and journalists that write about the topics your financial institution wants to be associated with. Consider the publications that your customers read regularly and think about which topics will resonate with them. With a solid understanding of what types of issues are being covered that your institution can speak to and which journalists cover these topics, you can begin reaching out to media. As your bank or credit union offers expert sources for interviews, commentary or best practices for managing one’s finances, your institution will be recognized as a thought leader by both reporters and prospective customers. Consumers will gravitate toward financial institutions that provide credible financial education and guidance, so sharing helpful insight, which the media can amplify by its wider reach, can help attract new customers.
That said, while the aforementioned tips can be easily executed to build brand awareness, there are a couple of pitfalls to avoid.
- Avoid only talking about your financial institution. Do not get tunnel vision where your sole focus is on your institution and its products and services. Remember how your institution fits in the community as a whole. Issuing press releases for mundane announcements and assuming journalists should write about how great your institution is will do more harm than good. Instead, focus on the major trends that are affecting the community and offer truly unique stories that will interest both the media and their audience.
- Remember that even the best PR and marketing program does not automatically result in sales. Building brand awareness through a well-executed PR and marketing strategy does just that: increases brand awareness. The goal of these programs is to generate interest in your financial institution’s services and draw prospective customers in. However, at a certain point, the product or service speaks for itself and marketing becomes less influential the closer someone gets to making a final decision.
By focusing your efforts on leveraging customer testimonials and building relationships with target media while avoiding these mistakes, your financial institution can increase its visibility without spending a fortune. With some initial thought and planning, financial institutions of any size can be highly strategic about building trust and awareness within their community, which can help ensure their long-term success and growth in today’s increasingly competitive market.
This is a guest blog post by Mallory Griffin, an associate with William Mills Agency, the nation's largest independent public relations firm focusing exclusively on the financial services and technology industries. The agency can be followed on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or its blog.
Posted on Thursday, June 22, 2017 at 2:45 PM
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