6 Marketing Myths That Can Trap Banks & Credit Unions

Several widely held misconceptions may be preventing marketing strategies from firing on all cylinders. Google's Media Lab identifies three of these mental roadblocks, while other sources supply three other examples. Eliminating them could significantly shift bank and credit union marketers' thinking.

Search Google for “marketing myths” and you could easily spend hours sifting through the results. One of the first you’ll see is one of Google’s own blogs. When the big cheese of digital marketing weighs in on misguided marketing practices and beliefs, bank or credit union have to pay attention.

The blog, by Joshua Spanier, Vice President of Google’s Media Lab, focuses on three marketing myths that the lab “busted” in the past year. The Media Lab manages the media strategy for all of Google’s advertising campaigns. The Financial Brand supplemented Google’s thoughts with input from several other expert marketing sources, adding three other myth categories in the process.

The comments below may assist financial marketers to correct misunderstandings, which could improve marketing results.

Myth No. 1: Video is Far Too Costly for Most Financial Marketers to Consider

Everybody understands that younger generations — and more than a few older consumers — suck up video like lattes. Witness the rapid rise of TikTok and the massive usage of YouTube.

Yet many bank and credit union marketers hold back from adding video to their marketing mix because of a belief that producing video is expensive and takes a lot of time. They believe that video production demands a director and film crew and that the shooting must be done on location, requiring expensive transportation, according to the Google blog. By the time the filming and post-production is completed, many months will have passed and many dollars spent. That hopefully results in a beautiful finished product, but the result will be a one-shot effort, says Google, with no time or resources to customize the video for different target markets.


It doesn’t have to be that way. Google tasked a Media Lab team to come up with a way to produce video that was faster, cheaper and more effective. They applied what they learned to the launch of Google’s Home Hub touchscreen and voice-based interface device. By using a Google tool called Director Mix they were able to create one base video ad and then spin off customized videos at scale. “We ended up with 80 versions of the ad, each tailored to a different context,” the blog states. Price to create each iteration: $1,800.

Video platform provider Vidyard has its own list of myths about video. That list includes these two myths:

  • We need actors to use video. While true at one time, now “anyone can be in a video,” Vidyard states. “You don’t need training or experience, just be yourself.” People will be self-conscious at first but these days more people are willing to go on screen than you may realize, the firm notes.
  • We need a professional to produce video. You don’t necessarily need to hire a professional videographer. 45% of companies surveyed by Vidyard and Heinz Marketing rely on their marketing team to produce video. A simple camera or even one of the newer smartphones will produce decent video.

Apsos Media adds that even if you do choose to use a professional, “There is no shortage of up-and-coming videographers who are willing to work cheaply, have their own equipment and are looking for any chance at all to prove their talents.”

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Myth No. 2: More Metrics Are Always Better

Google’s blog asks the question: “Just because you can measure something, does that mean you should?” Answer: a resounding “No!”

The search giant discovered in an audit that the various Google marketing teams collectively were reporting on 70 different metrics. “We can see how long someone spent watching a video, how far someone scrolled down a page, how many of our website visitors are bouncing,” and much, much more.

“Google, the mother-lode of digital metrics, reduced 70 data points to just six for its own marketing teams, finding that ‘less is more.'”

In theory, this should all be helpful, but the company found that having so many data points led to poor decisions. “When it comes to data, less is more,” Google wrote.

So Google slashed 70 data points to just six metrics.

That may sound unbelievable coming from a company that is the mother lode of digital metrics. Here’s how Google came up with such a small number of metrics for its own marketing team:

“We run two types of campaigns: brand and performance. Across those campaigns, we care about three things: Whether we’re capturing people’s attention, how they’re behaving in response, and what the outcome is. So now, rather than drowning in metrics, we have just one for each of the things we’re interested in measuring.”

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Myth No. 3: The Machines Are Winning in Marketing

There’s a growing fear among employees at larger financial institutions, where budgets for implementing artificial intelligence and machine learning are large and growing, that machines will increasingly replace humans. Such fear isn’t limited to the marketing profession, but is reflected in the headline of an article The Financial Brand ran in 2019: “Can Robots Write Better Financial Ad Copy Than You?” The article was prompted by JPMorgan Chase agreeing to a five-year deal with AI marketing firm Persado to produce marketing content.

But Google, whose own algorithms can pull up relevant search results before you have typed more than two words of a search request, doesn’t agree that humans are threatened by machines. It says the heart of the issue is about “understanding what machines do better than us and letting them get on with it, freeing up humans to lean into what we do uniquely well: insights, inspiration, and creativity.”

As an example, the blog cites the complex equations used to calculate customer lifetime value. Even left-brained analytical whizzes take time to work these out, meaning that the company was getting CLV updates only every six months. By using an AI tool called TensorFlow they now get CLV calculations daily.

Regarding the Chase AI copywriting deal, “The goal is to get to copy that resonates,” Erich Timmerman, Executive Director for Media Relations at JPMorgan’s West Coast tech office told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “Edits and review have always been integral to the process.”

Myth No. 4: Content is King, So More Content is Better

It’s the old idea of, “If you throw enough stuff against the wall, some of it’s bound to stick.” As a Marketing Land blog states, there is some truth to that practice, but it says, “the trouble with turning on the content fire hose is that your audience is already inundated — they’re seeing vast amounts of low-quality, unmemorable content every day. The soundest content strategy is a series of strategically chosen bets rather than trying to be everywhere at once.”

Also keep in mind that without support and validation from other marketing channels, even the best content can fail, the blog states.

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Myth No. 5: Ad Retargeting Creeps People Out

Depending on who you talk to, you could easily conclude that most of the world is annoyed by ads that follow them around as a result of retargeting, in which marketers serve ads to users who have visited and left a web page. However, marketers who believe that are falling for a myth, or at least an exaggeration, and will miss out on big gains, according to Digital Marketer. The firm cites data from Wishpond that 30% of consumers react to online ads positively compared with 11% reacting negatively and 59% neutral.

Wishpond also reports that almost half (46%) of search engine marketers believe retargeting is the most underused marketing technology. It’s one of the most efficient ways to bring people back to a financial institution’s site, Digital Marketer notes.

Eric Sachs is a little more circumspect on this subject. The CEO of Sachs Marketing Group says that most consumers don’t understand retargeting and don’t like feeling like their privacy is being violated. However, they do respond to this marketing method when it’s used in the right way.

Sachs’ recommendation: “Make sure you are following best practices when retargeting. Cap your impressions, offer an opt-out feature, and make sure your website is user-friendly.”

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Myth No. 6: Facebook is Dying, Better Move On

Several marketing myth lists had a “Facebook RIP”-type entry. Marketing Land describes the myth this way: “Young people are abandoning [Facebook] in droves. … The targeting tools might be nice for advertisers, but organically Facebook is over.”

But as all the sources touching on this subject agreed, Facebook still generates the most solid returns of all the social networks. “While it’s important to be aware of changing market forces and not invest all your resources in a single channel, we’re certainly not ready to declare it obsolete yet,” Blue Fountain Media states.

Adds Marketing Land: “A decent Facebook presence is still a necessity for most well-rounded organic social strategies.”

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