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Bank Runs “Trust Us” Ad One Day, Fails the Next

On Thursday, September 4, an ad from Silver State Bank asked, “Why do so many of Nevada’s strongest businesses trust Silver State Bank?”

The answer? “Security” and “protection.”

The next day, the bank was seized by federal and state regulators.

Apparently people weren’t buying the bank’s “you can trust us” sales pitch. When you lose people’s trust, you lose their deposits. In the two months prior to the bank’s seizure, customers pulled $264 million of the $1.7 billion on deposit at Silver State.

“A run on deposits
is what kills banks.”
Tim Coffey
VP/Research, FIG Partners

“A run on deposits is what kills banks,” said Tim Coffey, VP/Research for FIG Partners, in an interview in the Las Vegas Review Journal. “It happened that way in the Great Depression, and it’s happening again.”

Reality Check:

  • People already don’t trust banks. Most financial institutions are seen as greedy and self-serving.
  • Situations like this, where Silver State advertised blatant lies, don’t help financial institutions shake this image or build any credibility
  • People’s B.S. detectors trigger alerts whenever they hear someone say “Trust Me.” Images of used-car salesmen go through their minds.

Key Takeaway: It takes more than just words to earn people’s trust. Reminding people that your financial institution is “safe, sound, secure and stable” is an important communications strategy these days. Just remember: Marketing can’t ever create a sense of trust. As with all our relationships, trust is something earned — usually over time.

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  1. Charles H. Green says:

    Great post, thanks for publicizing this.

    I work with clients to help them improve their trustworthiness, and one of the points i always make is “don’t use ‘trust us’ in an ad campaign,” for precisely the reasons you mention.

    First, it’s the number one blatantly trust-destroying thing you can say. Trust is largely personal, so putting it in an impersonal ad is inherently contradictory. But more deeply, trust consists largely in believing that the one you trust has your best interests at heart. If someone is advertising a trait about themselves, it inevitably looks like you’re pursuing your own interests. It’s like bragging about your humility; it’s inherently hypocritical and self-contradictory.

    Worse yet–as in this case–when you get someone blatantly using it as a grasping last attempt to rescue themselves–it poisons the well for other people who might be doing all the right things to be trusted.

    Charles H. Green
    Trusted Advisor Associates

  2. Thanks for the comment Charles. “Bragging about your humility…” That’s a great analogy.

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