Bank marketing has evolved through the years and marketers, who used to be stifled by rigid creative constraints, have found that financial marketing can be innovative while at the same time maintaining that fine line of conservatism.
So Many Products, So Many Ways to Promote Them
In general, banks offer similar products--checking, savings, money markets, loans and CDs, just to name a few. Marketers find that they need to create different ways to promote the same products over and over again, while at the same time maintaining that same voice of safety and soundness.
Additionally, a marketer needs to identify what makes his bank's products different from the competition in order to entice prospective customers to his bank versus the bank down the street. The banking market is extremely competitive so marketers needs to be especially creative.
Luckily, thanks to the Internet and the vast number of channels available to marketers, banks have no trouble reaching nearly any demographic or mass market within reach. In fact the traditional means, such as radio, TV and newspaper, are slowly being replaced with e-mail blasts, targeted direct mail and Internet banners.
Banks also have the advantage of promoting rate and structural changes. You can feature the same checking account but at a higher rate. Or many banks are promoting step CDs where the customer can step up to the next highest rate once during the term.
Different Approaches to Marketing
Some banks are taking a more interactive approach to marketing. Customer contests engage an audience and make a campaign a little more interesting.
For example, a fun summer promotion for auto loans could have a golf theme. The customer could putt for a rate discount. The bank could create a mini putting green in the lobby and give the customer one chance to putt the ball into one of the three or four holes. Inside each hole is a different rate discount which could be arranged based on difficulty. For instance a .50 percent APR discount rate could be the most difficult to hit. Staff members could coordinate their outfits and wear golf attire on Friday and serve refreshments during the campaign.
Another interactive way to promote products is through a direct mail campaign. For example, if you were marketing checking accounts, you could mass mail postcards to prospects and existing clients with a secret code. The customer or prospect would need to come into the branch to see if their code matched the one in the lobby and if it did they could win a prize. The bank could arrange to have several codes associated with a variety of prizes. Once the customer is in the branch, the front line financial service representative could sign the customer up for the checking account.
You could take this campaign one step further by awarding prizes to the customer if she opened additional products or services, too. These prizes could be as simple as a pen or a coffee mug or even a grand prize. Flat screen TVs, iPods and computers are great giveaways.
Another way banks are promoting their products is through referral programs. Plenty of bank runs refer a friend campaigns where the existing customer receives a cash reward (usually around $10 to $25) if she refers a friend to the bank and he signs up for a product, such as a checking account. Banks are also running referral programs where employees are receiving incentives for making referrals to the loan or investment department.
Banks have many means in which to market their campaign. Great marketing ideas need an impressive communication vehicle. Some of the top ways marketers are bringing their message to their target audience include email blasts, online banner ads, newspaper ads, radio, TV, direct mail, in-branch merchandising (including posters, handouts and flyers), newsletter, statement stuffers, ATM receipt messages, online banking messages, parties, events, educational seminars,press releases, newspaper editorials and social media.
Gina Ragusa has made a career out of writing for the past 15 years, with an emphasis on financial institution writing. Ragusa has written for Consumer Lending News, Deposit and Loan Growth Strategies and Community Bank President. She earned her Bachelor of Arts from Michigan State University.