Bank Woos Small Businesses with Free Marketing

FirstBank in Denver is getting serious about going after small business customers. The bank is running free 14′ x 48′ billboards for some of its smallest banking customers — babysitters, piano teachers and wedding singers.

The message FirstBank wants to get across: “We care about small business.”

The billboards include real, working phone numbers. But for liability reasons, FirstBank didn’t want to put actual names and numbers of individual babysitters up on public billboards. So what happens when you call the number on the billboard (go ahead, try it)? You get a recording from that person, saying they are all booked up, but please call so-and-so instead. Then you get the real number for a real business.

The referrals for businesses are rotated, so FirstBank can spread its love around to more customers. “For example, they might have seven babysitter names they give out,” a spokesman told The Financial Brand.

“After a story about the campaign ran on a local television station, we were inundated with calls from customers saying, ‘I want to be on the next billboard,'” Jonathan Schoenberg, the creative director at FirstBank’s ad agency, told the NY Times.

Starting early this summer, FirstBank will offer customers a “DotFree” small business banking package, including small business checking and savings, Internet Cash Management and Desktop Teller.

As a promotional aspect to the “DotFree” package, FirstBank will be giving customers free website development (via, free hosting and free online banner. Small business customers’ banner ads will rotate on sites like Forbes and Yahoo along with FirstBank’s own “We care about your small business” message.


FirstBank’s OrangePages will be a microsite that functions as a stripped-down version of Yelp (sorry, FirstBank’s site isn’t operational yet). When it goes live this summer, it will essentially be a directory of the FirstBank small businesses that choose to take part. Participating businesses can choose to provide a special offer of coupon to FirstBank customers — e.g., “Show your FirstBank card for 15% off an oil change.”

Not scheduled to be operational until later this summer, FirstBank’s OrangePages
will be a free local small business directory. Businesses can customize their listings
and add special offers.

Customizable Listing within Orange Pages
Participating businesses will be able to customize their design theme in under 5 minutes.

Because the program is still in development, number of listed businesses is unknown, and whether they will all be FirstBank customers is undetermined.

The campaign is by TDA Advertising & Design out of Boulder. This isn’t the first time The Financial Brand has written about TDA’s work for FirstBank. Last year, there were two articles, one about a clever campaign focused on the bank’s online security, and the other about a cheeky holiday promotion.

Free Online Banner Advertising
Small business customers’ banner ads will rotate along with a FirstBank message on sites like
Forbes, Yahoo and Clicking on any banner will take you to the OrangePages directory.

“Free” Magazine Advertising (joke)
This full page FirstBank ad will run in local business publications. It has white space where you can write an ad for your business, then leave the magazine in a waiting room, coffee shop or other public place.

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