PPP forgiveness is fraught with peril for bankers. Done the wrong way, and it will suck countless resources. Aside from having a good process and/or technology platform, having a marketing plan will be the difference between success and failure. If done correctly, an application can take 20 minutes to review and approve. If done incorrectly, that same application will take over three hours.
Unfortunately, in 2020, most bank websites are nothing more than brochure-ware. That is a problem as not only can a bank’s website be its most efficient source leads, but it should also be the best source of conversions (leads that turn into new accounts and loans). While there are several hundred banks that do handle online lead gen well, it is even rarer to have a bank generate leads from its mobile app. This is also a problem as some banks are now generating the bulk of their digital leads from mobile, not to mention the bulk of their conversions.
When your bank places advertising, partners, produces content or conducts events, it is helpful to statistically know which subject matter is most, and least conducive to banking. For example, by our marketing data, if you are interested in banking, and getting the most out of your banking relationship, you have a 31.4% probability of also being interested (to the point of engaging with content) in travel.
If you are still spending money on print and direct mail, we ask you why? Not only is it hard to track, but it is likely the least effective form of marketing that you can do. While building a brand is good, generating an emotional connection is better. Banks that do a great job at marketing such as Umpqua, Citizens Bank of Edmonds, Bank of Ann Arbor, and many others know that it is all about gaining some level of engagement. It is hard to engage with a statement stuffer or print advertisement.
Statistically, we call it the density function. The more potential clients that are located in close physical proximity to each other, the higher the probability that each will become a client of your bank. Consider that during college, a time in your life was you likely had a high density of people around you, at any given moment, 20 people could randomly show up to your apartment or house. Sometimes you would be asleep only to wake up to find a small party in your living room without so much as an invitation.
First Reliance Bank ($534mm, SC) recently took their strong culture on the road, in a manner of speaking, as they rolled out a new marketing campaign called “Ride for the Brand.” This is an easy campaign to pull off yet only a small percentage of banks do it. The campaign asks employees to put their logo sticker on their back windshield or use one of their rearview mirror hanging tags. To encourage participation, they did a drawing for Roomba robotic vacuum for everyone who displayed the “Arc Logo” (below).
At a recent conference, we got in a public argument over how banks waste time and money building their brand. Don’t get us wrong, we believe every bank should make an investment in their brand but our point is that building a brand is difficult and expensive. Before you invest money in a new logo, an advertising campaign or work up a new “brand message,” there are four simple things that all banks need to do to create 70%+ of the value of their brand.
Step One – Focus on Your 1,000 True Fans
Now that Thanksgiving is behind us we can turn our attention to the holidays. That means our annual gift guide for bankers. We do this as we not only have a good time putting this together, but it is one of the pieces of content that we produce that drives heavy traffic. At this time, everyone is looking for gift ideas and these are our best ideas all tested (except for the floating cockroach). We also highlight this gift guide not only for your use but for your bank to use with your customers.
Almost every banker will find at some point having to present to an audience. Whether you will present to your peers, the board of directors, a group of prospects or your direct reports, you will need to make prepared remarks in front of a group of people. In particular, we are huge advocates of leveraging your bank’s expertise and passing that on to your customers in the form of client events, educational sessions, and community workshops.
Given all the energy around tax reform, we need to point out that tax returns are one of the most underutilized instruments in banking. Most banks require current tax returns from prospects as a condition to making a commercial loan. There are many reasons why banks would want to have the information contained in a tax return as a prerequisite for prudent underwriting and ongoing loan monitoring.