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T-Mobile Enters the Digital Wallet Market – Should Bank Marketers Worry?

March 21st, 2014 by Neal Reynolds

The competitive landscape for banks and credit unions is rapidly changing as technology and customer demand are bringing new players into the market. There was a time when geography and branch location played a significant role in how consumers selected their bank, but digital options, tech savvy millennials, and a post-recession customer untrusting of the banking industry have created opportunities for them to use the digital wallet.

T-Mobile recently launched its Mobile Money platform as the latest company in this space.  T-Mobile is targeting its current customers who haven’t traditionally had bank accounts, who generate less income, and/or are uncomfortable or unable to use traditional banking services. According to T-Mobile marketing executive Andrew Sherrard, “One of the main reasons we’re doing this is to deepen our relationship with our customers.”  Compared to a number of these services already available, such as Simple, PayPal, Google, Apple and Lemon, T-Mobile customers, who add Mobile Banking to their services, are exempt from the many fees charged by other digital wallet services.

Nationally syndicated consumer expert Clark Howard  gives this synopsis of T-Mobile’s position with a message to banks.

Key Factors for Bank Marketers

Traditional banks and credit unions are at risk to losing customers and falling behind if they don’t take a serious look at their use of technology. The pace of change when it comes to technology and the web is fast and furious. How much of this will matter to your institution to meet the needs of your customers? Consider the following key factors to address how this will impact your growth.

  • Revisit your competitive analysis to include new competitors or outliers you may not have thought as competition. If your customers have access to using them, they should be in the mix.
  • Be clear on your target markets and the products and services they need and want. According to Aite Research,  from 2008 to 2011, banks lost one million checking accounts. Are you losing customers and why are they leaving? Do they want services you don’t offer?
  • If you don’t know the answers to the questions above, conduct a survey to get feedback from your customers.
  • Where are your growth opportunities? According to a panel convened at the National Retail Federation show in New York, in 2017 millennials will eclipse baby boomers as the largest generation extant. Smartphones are appendages to millennials bodies. Are you planning to meet the needs of this generation?
  • Apps for smart devices will be expected from companies going forward. How does this fit within your strategy and delivery of products and services?

T-Mobile was well positioned to move into the mobile banking space to serve the underbanked segment. A large percentage of their customer base already uses prepaid contracts. Prepaid phone customers tend to be younger. They’ve eliminated carrier contracts and provide interest free loans for smart phones as well. No fee mobile banking is an attractive option for this market.

Where can your institution find a niche to reach your target market with technology? Do you think the digital wallet is a concern for banks?

What “Bank Marketing” Can Learn About Social Media from Jimmy Fallon

February 27th, 2014 by Lisa Kanda

Jimmy Fallon debuted as the sixth person to host The Tonight Show last week with 11.3 million viewers, hitting the highest ratings in five years. If you are a Jay Leno fan and/or never stayed up past the midnight hour to watch Fallon, you might not have known what to expect from the new kid in this time slot. But, Fallon has a secret weapon that helped propel him into this space successfully (remember the fate of Conan O’Brien?).

In addition to his tenure on The Late Night Show, Fallon had already established himself on social media channels and his raving fans followed him. Fallon’s social media presence is extensive, and he has established his following and platform, counting over 11.5M Twitter followers, 1.17M Instagram followers, 2.0M You Tube subscribers, and 1.4M Facebook fans.

What can bank marketing professionals learn about using social media from Jimmy Fallon?

Start with strategy. The incorporation of social media and the web was an integral part of Fallon’s strategy when he hosted The Late Night Show that premiered on March 2, 2009.  Fallon  created a Twitter account in July 2008 and a vlog on the show’s official website, which ran snippets of comedy bits and background reports on how he was building the show.

Takeaway - A social media strategy will create a cohesive plan of action that leads to results.

Connect with Your Market. -  Online interaction and its presence on The Late Night Show became crucial to its success and these tactics have now been integrated within The Tonight Show’s marketing and content development. Fallon’s ability to connect with his fans is unrivaled. He asks for their input in creating show content and engages with them using Twitter in a segment called Late Night Hashtags.

Takeaway - Your customer is web and social savvy and expects to communicate with you using these channels. Find ways to engage them with your product, services and organization to help build trust and create relationships with your customers.

Be authentic. Have personality. Tell your story. -  Fallon has published a Welcome video  and created the Ask Jimmy  segments  which are driven from his Tumblr account.  His name and personality are emeshed in every aspect of his work.  He kicked off his first Tonight Show  monologue  by”telling his story” to the audience.  He immediately created a bond with the audience by being relatable and approachable.

Takeaway -  No one wants to communicate with an organization. Identify the culture and personality of your organization and let that show throughout your social media content and engagement. Find a way to incorporate your institution’s people in your content so your customer knows there are people behind the story.

Engage and respond. – As mentioned above, Fallon regularly interacts with his fans on Twitter and during his Ask Jimmy segments which are recorded and placed on all his social media channels. He has a team to help him do this, and even introduces them on his Tumblr site.

Takeaway - There is nothing worse then going to a social media site and the posts talk “at” people and/or they never respond to comments. It may take a team to create, monitor and respond to social media communication. A process or system should be in place to track and respond appropriately to all social media interactions.

How can you incorporate some of these tactics in your brand’s social media presence?

Creating a Successful Bank Blog

February 13th, 2014 by Neal Reynolds

We’ve turned into a society of information consumers depending on the web to provide us with tips, how-to’s and the answers to our questions about anything and everything. This growing trend along with Google’s latest algorithm update, called Hummingbird, create a compelling case for banks and credit unions to create their own blogs. Google has always favored sites that include a blog, and this update makes this marketing tool even more relevant to search engine optimization (SEO) and placement in search results.

A recent blog post on the Content Marketing Institute web site succinctly summarizes the Hummingbird update by stating,

With Google’s emphasis on conversational search becoming apparent, providing your audience with useful content that answers users’ questions is key. Additionally, optimizing that content for mobile users is more important than ever, as mobile searches tend to be more conversational in nature. Finally, though the effect of social signals on search engine rankings isn’t entirely clear, social media should still be a part of your content marketing strategy to build your online brand.

So, content that answers users’ questions, optimized content for mobile, and a social media strategy are the three components to address. We know that content is king and the best way to create original content is with your own self-hosted blog. To create a successful blog, understand its purpose and how it fits within your institution’s overall marketing strategy. Clarity of purpose will help you specify the overall message or theme of your blog.

Financial institutions need to identify who will oversee the editorial content of the blog, create a calendar of when posts will be published, and determine, based on your message, who will contribute and write content for the blog. How often is up to your resources, and more frequency is better, but posting consistently is most important.

I personally have seen the impact this blog has achieved in SERPs (search engine ranking placement), as noted in the 2012 Financial Brand’s Best Ranking Blogs Readers Choice Winners.

Then in 2013, life and work took me away from posting consistently. Did you miss me? To that end, I have implemented a new blogging strategy so this blog will consistently post content that answers users’ questions. I am introducing a contributing author, Lisa Kanda, marketing and social media strategist, to add her expertise to our posts. I will also include podcasts, interviews and other experts to this space.

My search for blogs that fit the above criteria provided three examples of how to approach a blogging strategy.

Sevier County Bank’s blog highlights stories about some of the positive experiences its customers have had with the bank. The blog page prominently displays an email link to submit stories.

Lakeland Bank’s blog posts how to articles and educational information contributed by bank senior staff including the president/CEO, regional presidents and the chief retail officer.

The Navy Federal Credit Union blog integrates eye catching images and infographics on its posts and clearly states its purpose on the home page, including a call to action for feedback:

Welcome to the Navy Federal blog, a new way for us to provide you with the information, advice and direction you need to make important financial decisions for you and your families. This blog is designed to facilitate discussion, ideas and debate.

If there are topics you would like introduced here, please feel free to share those ideas with us.

Whether you need to do an audit on your blog or are starting from scratch, follow these steps to blogging success:

  1. How does the blog fit into your overall marketing strategy?
  2. What is the blog’s purpose and overall message?
  3. Identify who has oversight of the blog.
  4. Identify who will contribute content to the blog.
  5. Create an editorial calendar for post consistency.

Let me know your thoughts on how your financial institution is using blogs.

Business Owners Are No Longer Rushing To The Bank

July 24th, 2013 by Neal Reynolds


Years ago, as a small business owner, I spent a lot of time waiting for the mailman.
Cash was always tight, and I held out hope that what the mailman delivered would be enough to cover all the checks that had already been mailed. Many of my clients had said the “check was in the mail,” so it was just a matter of time before they arrived.

Back then deposits had to be made before 2 p.m. to be posted that same day and it seemed I was always making a mad dash to the bank as soon as the mailman arrived. Of course those were the days when you had three days of “float”, but that’s a whole ‘nother story.

And for clients that would call and say the check was ready to be picked up, I had a list of every bank branch in town. Time was of the essence and I didn’t have time to search for one.

I was a very happy businessman when local banks started allowing deposits until closing time. This gave me a little extra time to make it to the bank.

I still remember the time that I went to make a deposit in my bank’s ATM and realized I had until 8 p.m. for my deposit to be counted that day. That meant I could work a little more each day before heading off to the bank.

As my business grew and became more profitable I didn’t have to make as many trips to the bank as before. I even had a few clients that used ACH and deposited the money directly into our account.

My wife worked for a state association and was introduced to remote deposit capture a couple of years ago. Of course, in the beginning there were a lot of bugs to be worked out, but it was still easier than running to the bank.

And then it happened. A few months ago my bank introduced mobile remote deposit capture. Using my “smart” phone I could take a picture of my checks and deposit them instantly. I could text “last” to my bank to see the last deposits and could text “bal” to see my current balances.

The smart phone has changed the music, publishing and camera industries forever, and the banking industry is next. Banks can now grow market share without the high cost of branches and since their transaction costs have been reduced, their overhead is also reduced. And it’s still a unique selling point for many banks and gives them something new to market.

I spoke at a large state banker’s association last fall and asked how many banks were planning to introduce mobile remote deposit capture this year. Only a handful of bankers raised their hands and several said they would never offer this product. They were afraid of the risks and liabilities. Hopefully these banks will notice how many people live on their smart phones and will sooner than later realize they need to be offering this new technology.


Neal Reynolds has worked with hundreds of banks and credit unions around the country helping them to grow core deposits and market share without growing their marketing budgets. Contact him at