An examination of 323 print and 196 television ads targeting retail banking customers in the U.S. shows there is no single “correct” pathway to success. However, strong executions fell along a continuum from brand recognition to personal reassurance to customer empowerment.
Research from Phoenix Marketing International shows there are multiple ways by which retail banking advertising can achieve success and triggering a market response. What matters most is whether or not the advertising successfully met at least one of the following strategic communication initiatives:
- Promoted a superior banking product/service
- Conveyed the advertising sponsor as a credible brand
- Made a strong cognitive connection with the target audience
- Presented a message that is perceived as personally relevant
- Broke through the clutter with an impactful creative execution
Now of course, these things could probably be said about ads in any industry, but financial marketers should still take note.
“The most successful advertising for retail banks in 2010 spoke to the ‘average’ banking customer or presented strong and ‘own-able’ thematic creative or were part of an integrated campaign with a consistent presentation across all media channels,” explains Daniel Rivera, Senior Analyst responsible for both the Canadian and U.S. Retail Banking programs.
“What did not work were ‘corporate-speak’ executions that either lacked a supporting message, were assumptive and/or confusing,” added Rivera.
Advertisements for 20 brands were reviewed for this research and included many familiar names such as BofA, Capital One, Chase, Citi, Citizens, Deutsche, E*Trade, Fifth Third, HSBC, ING Direct, JP Morgan, KeyBank, PNC, RBC, Regions Bank, SunTrust, TD, US Bank, Wells Fargo and Wachovia. In doing so, it become evident that the more successful advertising fell along a continuum from brand recognition to personal reassurance and finally to customer empowerment.
In addition to reinforcing positive feelings about the brand, well-branded ads often incorporated a celebrity spokesperson who enhanced breakthrough and became a branding element as well. Ads with a clear and succinct message reinforced by visuals, graphics, and voiceovers reassured banking customers with clear, and often simple, communication. Finally, advertising that demonstrated a personal payoff, communicated a message that was about the customer and not the brand, or rewarded customers for their time was found most relevant to the retail banking customer.