6 Ways Financial Institutions Can Keep Their Marketing Mojo

Given the daily challenges of operating in a 'new normal' that keeps changing, bank and credit union marketers may put off planning for the future. The new business pipeline can take a long time to refill, however, so it's imperative to take a longer view now. Here's how to be sure you're ready when demand returns.

With the flurry of activity precipitated by the coronavirus, financial marketers have demands like never before: PPP forgiveness (or a new round of these loans), refis, new loans to fund expansions, customer service needs amid continuing restrictions, and the continually shifting sands that have everyone on their toes.

For most bank and credit union leaders, it’s challenging — but also rewarding.

Helping communities survive challenges, and begin to grow and prosper again is deep within the DNA of banks and credit unions. And they’re glad to be part of these important efforts.

But don’t let this high demand distract you from forward-thinking marketing and business development. You’ve got to continue with your social media, PR and branding efforts so you remain busy in the future. You know the pipeline can be long. It’s important to plan ahead so that when times even out and demand picks up, you’re still the go-to institution in your market.

To paraphrase the title of a Harvey Mackay book: You have to dig a well before your brand gets thirsty. Taking a long view will help you now, and into the future.

For right now you want to get as much share of market as you can. Many consumers and businesses are still very much in the market. Are you visible enough and active enough to attract them to your institution instead of your competitor?

For the near future, when this crisis is over, there will be losers, but there will also be many winners. There will likely also be a huge pent-up demand ready to be unleashed as consumers and businesses make up for lost ground. For example…

  • Consumers will want to dine out, attend festivals and movies and buy clothing.
  • Many will shop for cars, durable goods and homes.
  • Existing businesses will need to be ready to fulfill these demands.
  • New businesses will sprout up as a result of layoffs, job changes or new opportunities in the economy.

This naturally will mean new financial needs for both loans and deposit products. Are you positioning your brand now for that demand later this year?

Don’t dismiss the distant future. Sure, no one knows what the future will bring. But we do know that financial institutions will still be needed to facilitate economic opportunity. Now is a good time to assess your capabilities.

6 Ways to Ensure You’re Ready for the Rebound

1. Dust off your brand. Make sure it truly differentiates you from your competitors. Do you — and everyone inside your institution — know your purpose, your brand and how to deliver on them every day? If you have a brand based only on a single common theme — such as customer service or fast, local loan decisions — you have a me-too brand that won’t take you far.

2. Dig deeper. Look for other things that can differentiate you from the institution around the corner or across the globe. Customers and prospects must recognize and value that “special something” only you bring.

3. Refresh and relaunch your paid marketing campaigns. They might need to look different than the ones you’ve run in the past. What’s relevant to your customers and prospects now? What will their needs be in six months? Can you anticipate and be there? Make sure you speak in a way that shows you’re in tune with people’s needs and ready to help as time goes on.

4. Shore up paid marketing with social media and public relations. People working from home — or working from home in shifts — are spending much more time online and on social media. If you’re not there too, you should be. Make sure your social messaging and your community service activities are connected to, and enhance, your paid marketing.

Social media tip: Give consumers advice for saving, updates on safety in your communities, community service efforts you support. Ask them for feedback on what they need, then respond.

5. Put effort behind your business development bankers. In busy times as well as in slow times, it’s critical to support your business development team with high-quality, branded collateral materials and digital assets they can use to help bring in the customers you can help.

Take a step back: Do those bankers need additional training, or the capability to virtually attend networking events, or other support that gets them in front of their audiences? Don’t guess, ask them.

6. Make sure you’re connecting with the future workforce. Banks and credit unions will need help to cope with returning demand. Take stock of your situation now. Is your institution attractive to the best and brightest potential employees?

Monitor social media and community events, scanning for people that might be a great addition to your team. Connect with them. Listen to them. Start to gauge whether there’s a potential match and keep your “people to watch” file up to date.

Be sure your communications clearly demonstrate your purpose and your brand to candidates who might be looking for a change.

Useful tip: Do an online search of your institution and see what reviews and posts about you are out there. Do they fit with your vision of your best self? If not, get to work.

The time is now to plan for your future even if it may feel far away. It may be just around the corner — or further out. Either way, preparing for a rebound should begin now.

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