Going Local With Branch Marketing… Without Busting The Budget

Here's how financial institutions can translate sophisticated branch data into hyper-local programming through digital signage.

Bank marketers have always known the profile, interests and needs of their customers can differ wildly even between a pair of branches on the same city street.

But they’ve struggled to figure out how to effectively communicate with those different crowds, at that level of granularity. Delivering locally relevant messaging can get very complicated, very quickly.

Digital signage has been talked up for many years now as a great answer to that challenge. But when I look across the banking landscape, I see little evidence that adopting digital has made bank marketing any more hyperlocal than it was pre-digital.

In fact, a lot of digital display networks in banks still look and feel too much like TV programming. Often, the content is a mix of re-purposed broadcast spots, national or regional marketing pieces, and a lot of automated news and weather feeds.

There’s a better way.

The secret to hyperlocal programming – messaging that has a genuine impact on local branch marketing, is in the data … and how that data gets mined and used. It’s possible, and actually pretty easy and cost-effective, to make programming on digital screens unique to each banking center.

Here’s a rundown on what to think about, and how to execute.

Read More: Transform the Branch Through Data-Targeted Marketing Messages

Profile Your Branches

Your organization will have databases that list all the baseline information about each branch – including location, type, size and services offered. You’ll also have detail such as operating hours.

Then you can layer in additional information you’ll have about the branches, like who uses them, and the propensity and motivations of those customers to buy.

That’s the sort of data, coupled with geo-demographic catchment information (is the branch near a school?, in a suburb?) that is readily useable to shape digital signage content. That kind of data influences choices around subject matter best suited to the branch, and it can also define the words, visuals and call to action of a “master spot” for a branch or set of branches.

A bank’s central marketing team will have data that gives them a solid grip on the local nuances of branches – such as dominant ethnic groups. However, local staff will have a certain “feel” for their customer base and they can be equipped with tools to select images and write calls to action for messaging that acknowledges things like local preferences, events, and dialects.

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Describe The Dynamics

There are branches that are always busy, and others that are always steady. But most local branches have well-established ebb and flow patterns, in terms of activity level and customer profile.

How does the customer profile shift by time of day and week? Are there certain days each month – like government check mail-outs or paydays at the dominant local employer – when the branch gets much busier?

Does the branch get used in different ways, by different groups and at different times? Is most of the traffic for personal accounts in the morning, and for business accounts late day? Does the information they need, or you want them to see, differ?

Let Data Do The Messaging

Templates are now commonplace in digital signage. Just about any platform can give a local branch manager the tools to log into a system, choose a pre-designed layout, type in a message, and push it on to screens.

But how many bank managers do that? How many of them have the time to think about their local marketing mix or messaging challenges?

The more sophisticated approach involves dynamic media. Using scripted Flash files, or the fast maturing capabilities of HTML5, a piece of media can be designed and distributed once, and then steadily kept fresh by querying data sources and ingesting fresh information. That can be text, and it can be approved, curated images or even social media.

It’s the time and cost difference between producing dedicated spots in video or stills when a new message is needed, and letting a data source and some clever scripting do that on the fly. That can mean anything from current interest and currency rates, to messaging about ATM services that kick in whenever queue lines hit a certain threshold, or approved social photos from the bank-sponsored fun run from the past weekend.

Dynamic content creates incredible efficiencies in production cost and time, but it’s really important to remember that doesn’t need to come at the expense of quality. We’ve all seen stuff that doesn’t rise above the look of a slide show. But when those assets – text and visuals – are run through a well-designed script, it can look and feel like gorgeous HD video.

Putting It Together

All that data builds a true profile of what really happens in a branch, down to individual branches, and even further down to messaging locations within branches, and timing segmented by day and hour.

That data gets structured and harmonized so it all happily relates, and then the algorithms of a good digital signage content management system take over. Data about the media matches up with data about the branch, and hyper-targeted programming schedules are largely automated.

That general type of data-driven scheduling is not unique to any one vendor, but very few can handle the complexity and scale that a regional or national bank presents.

Simple data matching can give a bank the ability to run a Spanish language spot in Hispanic branches across the country. It’s another thing, entirely, to accurately execute a plan that gets that Spanish spot running in specific classes of Hispanic-dominant banking centers in metro areas greater than 100,000 people, in areas where home ownership percentages are higher than 60%.

Getting that done with the wrong platform could take a roomful of people, and be characterized by constant errors.

The right system – designed to handle the complexity that retail banking requires – could make a sophisticated, data-intense programming schedule the work of one FTE, or less.

Running well, hyper-local branch marketing can see messages come in and out based on a wide set of variables, and with minimal scheduling work. The right presentation plan – that takes advantage of data-driven automated content – means messaging branch-by-branch can all be unique, fresh and locally relevant.

It’s all in the data, and the programming plan, and a platform that makes good, full use of both.

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