Bank marketing is not working

By Tom Dougherty

Bank preference. Why don’t banks create it?

bank preferenceThe world of banking has changed dramatically in the last 10 years. And the biggest change is not consolidation and mergers. It is in bank importance.

That’s right. Banks don’t seem as important to customers as they once did. At least in the retail banking sector. As a result, creating bank preference and engaging customers has become more difficult.

Advertising has always been the key. But advertising is not as effective as it once was. What happened? The customer changed. And the customer’s media choices have shifted.

Print advertising to create bank preference is about dead. Newspapers are dying and subscriptions are collapsing.

But TV viewership has changed too. It is harder and harder to reach prospects in meaningful ways. Radio is changing too.

Drive time spots are increasingly more expensive and, let’s face facts, most radio advertising just stinks. We would all rather forget everything we heard.

What’s the answer to increasing bank preference?

bank preferenceWhen you ask advertising agencies, they will tell you social media is the answer. As if Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube were the great panacea and creators of bank preference.

Social media sounds great on the surface. It is relatively inexpensive, and you can count likes. That’s why agencies talk incessantly about it.

Social media gives agencies a new revenue stream. Because they are losing revenue streams.

They count success in terms of likes and shares. But just because you can count it doesn’t mean it counts.

There is no research to back up claims that social media “likes” increase preference or build the business.

If it really mattered, you could predict bank market share based upon social media interaction. Reality tells a different story.

Agency bank experience

Agency bank experience is not a great predictor of success. Many times, those agencies execute old ideas and worn-out strategies. Anything creating true bank preference is avoided.

Truth be told. Stealing Share has banking experience too. But, as you will see later, we can’t tie ourselves to former formulations.

The hardest job we all have is forgetting what worked yesterday.

 What is the problem?

bank preferenceLet’s talk numbers. At any one time, roughly 10% of banking customers are a little angry with their bank. Usually, it is not your fault. The customer made an error or mistake, and they blame you.

But, in a course of three years, less than 1% of bank customers will change banks. And the reason they give is that “I moved.”

Think about this. That 1% is on the decline. Often as not, moving does not require the customer to change banks. And who would want to?

Changing banks looks like a nightmare to customers. Managing two accounts during the flux period. Ordering new checks. You know the drill.

 So what do we say or claim?

The ad agency will tell you to speak to talk about “things.” And why not? We can see and feel things.

bank preferenceSo here is the basic list of what banks promise to get customers to switch: competitive rates, lower fees, convenient locations, access to ATMs, no ATM fees, free checking, online banking, great customer service, and friendly employees.

If the bank is small or regional— they claim that value as well.

The problem is NONE of these are triggers to switch. They do nothing to create bank preference. They simply define your institution as a BANK.

Name a bank that claims miserable employees? No ATMs? Inconvenient locations? No online services and HIGH fees?

Research informs us that none of these are switching triggers. They are if you are a gambler, the table stakes to get in the game. You know, the minimum bet you must place on the blackjack table to play. All these just describe “my bank.”

By the way, research tells us that all banks are local. That’s right. Even if you bank with one of the monster banks, customers refer to their local branch as local. They might even know some of the employees and the drive-through window gives Fido dog treats with the transaction.

No one knows how simple your online process is until they are a customer. And, no matter how simple you have made the interface, it is more complicated (to them) than what they currently use.

Customer Service

repositioning brands bank preferenceOf course, you must have great customer service. But there is a conundrum facing banks today. For most customers and prospects, the best customer service is no customer service.

That’s right. More than 80% want as little human contact as possible. They want to bank online, use an ATM and transfer their money electronically as they see fit.

They don’t want to TALK with you or interact in any way. In fact, friendly employees are usually most evident at the point of some failure. If they must talk to someone — well, something has gone wrong.

Managing this long-distance relationship is challenging for banks. We simply don’t know how to manage invisible interactions.

Bank CEOs worry about brick-and-mortar locations. And they are right to worry.

On the balance sheet, all of those locations are listed as assets. But in an increasingly digital world, it is possible that within the next decade those branch locations might become the world’s most expensive billboards.

Gone are the days when “if you build it they will come.”

What would we recommend?

bank preferenceNo pat answers. Every bank’s market is different. For that reason, we ALWAYS field projectable market research as part of the strategy development.

We are not talking about focus groups or self-selecting satisfaction studies. The aforementioned are not projectable to the community.

We field double-blinded projectable market research that lays bare the needs and wants of the physical and EMOTIONAL triggers.

We build your messaging on that research. Our process has effectively repositioned banks and credit unions

But it’s not our experience that you should covet. Your current advertising agency claims that.

We are experts in persuasion. In creating bank preference. We ask the right questions.

As a result, our small firm in Greensboro NC with a small office in NYC has clients all over the globe. Our success speaks volumes.

Here find more articles on bank preference and banking.


The Bank Market

Bank Preference

Credit Union Markting

Rebranding banks

Creating Bank Preference Web Story

Click for the Creating Bank Preference Web Story

See more posts in the following related categories: bank marketing