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Archive for the ‘bank marketing ideas’ Category

Millennial’s Matter to Bank Marketing

Monday, January 5th, 2015

A generation ago, bankers could count on young people –piggy banks in hand — riding their parents’ coattails to the neighborhood branch. As the years passed a kid who opened a savings account at 10 opened a checking account or a student loan at the same bank before heading off to college at 18. In a few years, that meant a mortgage, a college fund for their children, or an IRA.

In the age of Apple Pay, Google Wallet, and online banking, the old assumptions are shattered. But how do we attract a generation that communicates phone-to-phone and text to text, not face to face? Believe it or not, this is a slice of the market that in some cases has never opened the doors of a bricks-and-mortar branch bank or learned how to write a check.

And at a micro level, how do community banks reach a generation overwhelmed with debt that inhibits wealth? A recent article in the Wall Street Journal states that the average Class of 2014 graduate with student-loan debt has to pay back some $33,000. This is the most indebted class ever.

A whopping 63 percent of millennials (ages 18 to 29) don’t have a credit card, according to a survey commissioned by Bankrate and compiled by Princeton Survey Research Associates International.

How can bank marketers find creative ways to attract those 18-to-29 year old customers? With a combination of creativity, using this generation’s technology and some of the old-fashioned, yet time-tested customer service and marketing techniques their parents knew well.

First, know this: The younger generation has embraced mobile banking more warmly than mobile phones. According to, people ages 18-29 make up 44 percent of mobile bankers, but make up only 22 percent of mobile phone users.

How can community banks grow their share of the online market, while at the same time draw the younger generation to the branch?

Broadly speaking, it’s about building trust, especially in the wake of the financial crisis in the last five years. According to The Economist and a survey by Accenture, less than a third of 18-to-24-year olds believe their bank operates in a fair and transparent manner. The same Economist article pointed out that one in 10 millennials have hung up in frustration when dealing with call centers.

On a more personal note, my 25- year- old son decided to buy a house. I recommended that he go to the local branch of Bank of America to apply for a mortgage. After waiting for 30 minutes to meet with a customer service representative, he was escorted into an empty office, except for a desk and a phone. The representative dialed an 800 number, gave the phone to my son and walked out. My son did the same with no plans to return.

But these downsides offer an opportunity for small community banks to attract customers that not only spend an average of 20 hours a week on a computer or smart phone, but are out and active. Here are some ideas that can be accomplished at a low cost. Accenture offers some interesting ideas. And we have a few of our own.

* Get out of the office. Go to where millennials are and find out the trends that are popular among them. Crafting these relationships can and should begin even before the potential customers reach 18.

* Offer millennials the human touch. To reduce frustration with online and phone banking, every branch should have at least one young, tech-savvy staffer who can network with young customers, speaking the language they understand. This individual also would be responsible for the branch’s social media presence, as part of the bank’s strategic online marketing. A personal presence at the bank gives young customers a face they can befriend, not an automated prompt that can frustrate. Conservative bankers might dismiss social media. Don’t. While return on investment may not be great at the outset, as millennials grow in their careers –and paychecks grow as well — solid returns will come.

*Winning new, young customers must be a priority. As the Accenture article points out that once a customer signs on with a bank, there’s only a 10 to 15 percent chance they will switch later. However, the older the potential customer, the tougher it is to win them over.

*With that in mind, consider sending small gifts or perks to young potential customers through their parents. A silver dollar at birth, a card with a coupon to a popular pizza parlor or ice cream shop on birthdays, rewards for good report cards.

*Sending a newspaper clipping celebrating a young person’s success with a congratulatory note also makes a big impression.

*Banks and bankers need to be visible at major community events where young potential customers gather: high school sporting or arts events, community festivals

*Give young people a voice.. There are bright, technologically tough people who can make a difference for your bank. Launch a contest asking students to design an online presence geared specifically to them. It creates a buzz in a circle filled with future entrepreneurs.

*Customize branches to meet customer needs. The needs of customers near a high school or college campus is different than that in older, more established neighborhoods.

*Link up with retail stores to offer customer discounts and other offers to online banking customers.

*Set up different avenues online for specific goals –an online “piggybank” for savings for example.

*Bring the bank to students. Teaching financial literacy –how to build credit, student loans, savings — can begin with something as simple as a late-afternoon pizza party as part of an economics class. Here, the bank can introduce its e-presence, and showcase the services it offers.

*Be the first banker in town to endorse and introduce Apple Pay. A recent article in the Credit Union Times describes how Navy Federal Credit Union announced they were supporting Apple Computer’s new Apple Pay mobile retail payment system. They even posted a video on YouTube to demonstrate the ease in which Apple Pay can be set up and used. This makes this credit union look hip to our younger generation.

As noted earlier, 18-29 year-olds enter the picture with debt. But today’s debtors are tomorrow’s asset creators.

And on a bright note, a story earlier this year in the Houston (Texas) Business Journal cited a survey of 600 Texans, ages 18-24, which revealed that those millennials visit their branch banks at least once a month, more often that their older counterparts.


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Lessons from Ralphie and “A Christmas Story” for Banks to Ponder

Monday, December 22nd, 2014

A Christmas Story, the 1983 film based on the late writer Jean Shepherd’s story of Ralphie and his quest for a Red Ryder BB Gun from Santa Claus, is a holiday classic.

The story takes place in small-town Indiana before World War II. – The heartwarming film, A Christmas Story reminds us of the simple joys of Christmases past. We’re reminded too, of those snafus that befall every family –from flat tires to temperamental household appliances.

But more than anything, it’s a sweet story of a bespectacled boy’s Christmas dream. We were all kids once. We’ve all walked in Ralphie’s shoes.

But can A Christmas Story inspire some lessons for businesses? You bet. Here are just a few.

  • Cast a Vision: It’s a truth as old as The Scriptures. Where there is no vision the people perish. The same is true for community banks, credit unions and other businesses. Has your bank crafted a vision for 2015, 2020 and beyond? Ralphie had a vision – a “Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-Shot Range Model Air Rifle with a compass in the stock and this thing that tells time.” What’s your air rifle?
  • Overcoming the “You’ll shoot your eye out,” crowd. Time and time again, Ralphie weathered blunt warnings about the dangers of an air rifle – “You’ll shoot your eye out.” He got it from his Mom, his teacher, even a grouchy department store Santa Claus. But Ralphie stuck with his plan. Hard work, optimism and commitment can overcome the naysayers. Has your bank re-visited your strategic plan to align with your vision?
  • Fight off the “triple-dog dare”. Be careful not to take unnecessary risks. Too often, we listen to the crowd when our better judgment tells us to go in another direction. Remember Ralphie’s friend Flick? He took a “triple-dog dare” and wound up with his tongue affixed to a frozen flagpole. Seek wise counsel, not loud voices.
  • Little things matter. Fans of A Christmas Story will no doubt remember Ralphie’s Dad’s “major award,” a leg lamp complete with a stiletto heel and fishnet stocking. For Ralphie’s Dad, it was a new treasure, for Ralph’s mom, it was a neon tragedy. Every customer is different. The trick is finding what matters to your customer that will build customer loyalty. You can bet Ralphie’s Dad was loyal to the contest sponsor until his last breath.
  • Sometimes, life gives you a pink bunny suit. It can happen to you, or one of your employees, or one of your customers. Ralphie’s great aunt, who still envisioned her nine year-old great-nephew as a two year-old boy, sent him a pink bunny suit for Christmas. Needless to say, it was Christmas curveball for Ralphie. When the unexpected comes, do what Ralphie did. Roll with it. Your attitude is what counts.
  • The Decoder Ring Principle: Ralph experienced great disappointment when the Little Orphan Annie secret decoder ring he’d ordered in the mail translated a commercial message: “Drink Your Ovaltine.” Remember your message needs to speak to the customers’ needs and wants, not corporate jargon. Ralphie expected to unlock the mystery of buried treasure with his ring. Instead, he got a big disappointment.
  • Sometimes, you need to yell “Fudge”. We remember the scene when Ralphie helped his Dad change a flat, and lost the tire’s lug nuts in the nighttime snow. Ralphie let loose an expletive, one he’s heard time and again from his Dad. It’s OK to blow off steam, but do it privately, or with a trusted friend or colleague. Public outbursts can demoralize a team, and distract from the work to be done.
  • Nothing is more joyful than an unexpected success. At Ralphie’s all of the Christmas presents had been opened, or so it seemed. Ripped wrapping paper littered the floor. Ralphie’s Dad directed him to something behind the sofa. The kid found a beautifully-wrapped package, a long package, like an air rifle.

And it was indeed Ralphie’s Christmas dream come true, his Red Ryder gun, with the compass in the stock. Words describing a nine year-old child’s Christmas joy is indescribable.

  • Memories and Chinese Turkey. After neighborhood mutts had obliterated the family’s beautifully browned Christmas turkey, tears flowed like thin gravy.

“Get dressed” the Dad announced. “We’re going out to eat.”

The only open place was a Chinese restaurant, where the family feasted on Peking duck and were serenaded by the wait staff singing Christmas carols. The memory of it would live for generations.

Flexibility is the lesson here. When things don’t go as planned, be ready with a Plan B, a Plan C, even a Plan D.

  • And last, it’s about family. Your colleagues, customers, community and most important, your loved ones are yours. Treat everyone like family. There’s a reason we call ourselves “community” banks and credit unions have members. Our customers are all family, every day of the year.

Merry Christmas and a blessed and prosperous 2015.

Three Steps to Discovering What Your Bank Customers Really Want

Friday, May 30th, 2014

Most people see their banks and/or credit unions as something they need but do not easily differentiate why they should use one from the other. So how can a financial institution stand out from the pack? By discovering what products and services their current customers and target markets really want from their financial institution.

Have you ever been asked to complete a survey, give your feedback, or rate the service you received from a company where you’ve done business? If so, you know how important it is to provide valuable input when asked.

Bank marketers have an opportunity to take the lead in the discovery process so products and services are marketed to solve the problems of your customers. To do this, active listening and observation are keys to finding out what keeps your customers up at night, prevents them from getting their job done, or makes life difficult for them.

If you ask your customers what products, services or features they want, they will only give you part of the answer, because in most cases, they don’t know what they want. They only know the problems that they need to solve.

For example, a medical practice receives 300 checks a week that need to be deposited. The office manager only knows they need a faster way to process and deposit the checks. While their solution may be to hire a part time employee to assist in this task, you can provide a solution with remote deposit capture. If they knew how to solve the problem, they wouldn’t have it any longer. Ask what they need, but you determine what the solution is.

Bank marketers can proactively seek their customers’ needs and discover what they want by implementing a three step feedback process.

1. Empower employees to listen, ask questions and observe.

Anyone who interacts with customers can provide feedback by paying attention to how the customer acts, can ask questions if they observe the customer may need assistance, or observe that a system or process is not customer friendly. Employees are a valuable resource to identifying problems customers may have and a process should be in place so they can freely share this information back to management and marketing for review and action.

2. Implement a feedback system through surveys on your web site and email.

Surveys give you the opportunity to measure awareness of your products and services; can aid in discovering the effectiveness of your branding and positioning; and can help you understand the attitudes, motivations, and preferences of your customers. They give feedback to specific interactions customers have with your institution and offer a fast way to discover if they have a positive or negative customer experience so you can make actionable changes. Surveys also help uncover the problems your customers experience so you can seek appropriate solutions to implement.

3. Monitor, engage and track social media feedback and conversations.

Many people have found social media a place to voice their opinions, especially when they are unhappy with the service they receive. Financial institutions can proactively monitor social media channels to find competitive information as well as problems that receive the most complaints from customers. This information can be integrated in research for product and service offerings. Banks who are active on social media with their own pages can also ask the public for feedback, post links to surveys on social media, and engage with their fans when they post on their social media sites.

Bank marketers can differentiate their institutions by speaking the language of the customer and solving their problems. Only then will your target market know that your institution is the choice for them – because you know what they need and offer their solution.

How does your bank or credit union discover what your customer wants?

How Social Media Can Help Your Bank

Wednesday, April 15th, 2009

This quick SlideShare presentation may give you some ideas on using social media marketing for your community bank. My workshop will give you lots more ideas.