Develop Marketing Plans, Not Severance Plans

Neal Reynolds
Neal Reynolds

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New banking regulations, reduced loan volume and intense competition are causing banks all over the country to search for ways to cut overhead.

But how can community banks cut expenses in order to remain profitable without losing that “hometown personal service” that has been their mantra for many years? Sooner than later, community banks will have to do something they have never had to before – aggressively market, advertise and sell their products and services. They’ll have to concentrate on growing revenue instead of just cutting expenses.

In order to survive, they’ll need to think about what products and services they want to promote, who they want to target and which customers are going to be the most profitable.

If you are a marketer for a community bank, or you have clients that are, here are some tips for community banks to develop and grow their marketing efforts:

Know what makes you unique.

What makes you stand out? Do you have more branches, which could make it more convenient for potential customers, or do you offer mobile banking, which could be attractive to the younger generation? Identify what differentiates you from the competition and use it to your benefit.

Know what products and services you are offering and why.

Which products are more profitable or easier to sell? Which ones have the greatest potential to increase business/profits in the future?

Identify who you want to target and why.

Who is your real target customer? Do you really want to target the family of four that keeps a $43.50 balance in their checking account each month or the doctor’s office who keeps $25,000?

Understand your competition.

Once you know who you are competing with, find out what these other banks and credit unions are offering. One way to find out is to use a “mystery shopper.” Local college students are great resources for this. You can find out a lot of information for a very reasonable cost.

Get a Sales Plan.

That’s right, a sales plan! Who is going to leave your building tomorrow to go out to retailers to offer your remote capture services? If your sales team has never made sales calls, they will need training.

Create a referral program.

Put together a referral program for all employees and make it fun! Each Friday, list the winners and give away cash. When a customer comes in to open a new checking account, for example, reward employees for cross-selling additional products and services.

Know your targets.

Develop a list of what businesses you want to target, complete with their addresses, phone numbers and e-mail addresses.

Monitor sales activities.

Have a process in place to monitor sales activities. Know who your sales team has called and who they have visited, and make sure to schedule follow-ups if necessary.

Pull existing marketing materials and see if they need updating.

When was the last time you updated your marketing collateral? Companies like BankMarketingCenter.com offer affordable tools to help you design any marketing piece you will ever need. You can even personalize materials with a potential customer’s name, logo or photo – all within seconds.

Update your website.

Make sure your website is up-to-date and easy for customers to use.

Turn your TVs into bulletin boards.

Stop promoting CNN or Fox on your widescreen TVs in your branches.

Companies like WifiSignage.com offer a very affordable solution that can turn your TVs into “community event calendars.” You can produce your own messages and ads and play them on your TVs for less than what you’re currently paying for cable.

Make it easy for customers to do business with you.

Develop a “switch kit” to help customers easily move their accounts to your bank. Many people and businesses will pay higher fees to your competitor rather than go to the trouble of switching banks – especially if they’re already using online bill pay and remote deposit capture. That’s why you want to sell these services!

In Summary

  • The time for community banks to aggressively market themselves is now! Cutting expenses is not enough.
  • Think about what you want to promote, who you want to target and which customers will be the most profitable.
  • When it comes to marketing, get creative!

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