First Citizens Bank

Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share

18 March 2019

First Citizens Bank, vanilla banking

How bad is the new campaign for First Citizens Bank? It is so bad I never noticed it.

Instead, a former client and marketing professional wrote me — “Please write something on this God awful First Citizens Bank campaign. Make them stop. Ugh!”

If only I had such power. First Citizens Bank will need to flounder on its own.

“One other question concerning this campaign. What’s up with the extreme close-ups? If anything, they make you want to run away (fast!) from the ads.”

First Citizens Bank is an example of what to say when you have nothing to say

All great brands begin by answering a few questions. 1) What is the highest emotional intensity in the category? 2) What gets a prospect to switch?

First Citizens BankBeing truthful to a brand’s culture is a given. But I warn clients all the time. NEVER confuse what’s important to you with what matters to the prospect.

Remember. Prospects are different from customers. They care about different things. And friendliness is only important if you believe your current bank is nasty. Which bank has nasty employees? Additionally, how many of us actually go into a bank branch enough to care?

One other question concerning this campaign. What’s up with the extreme close-ups? If anything, they make you want to run away (fast!) from the ads.

The banking category can’t market

The banking industry simply fails in finding the right ways to attract new customers. And First Citizens Bank is proof in point.

I’m sure they are nice people. I believe they like having a job. And I have no doubt they value customer service.

What’s the problem then? Simple. My current bank has nice people who no doubt value customer service.

People just don’t change banks

Remember the financial meltdown a decade ago? Nobody switched banks then either even though they thought about it more often then.

Research backs this up.

At any moment in time, 3-4% of customers are mad at their bank. But only 1-2% change banks every 3-4 years. And the main reason they changed? “I moved.”

Today, when the largest and smallest banks in the world are in every locale, I expect even the “I moved” reason to fade away.

No one switches banks because of better customer service, trust or security. EVERYONE believes they already have these. No one switches for something they already have.

The bank conundrum

Banks have nothing to say. No promise. No brand. They are, as currently defined, a BANK.

All banks are local, regardless of their HQ. All banks are safe. They are also all convenient. All banks have ATMs and ALL BANKS SAY THEY HAVE FRIENDLY EMPLOYEES AND PUT THE CUSTOMER FIRST. Including First Citizens Bank.

Banks just end up talking to themselves. They look around their own halls and ask the wrong question. “What do we say about ourselves?” They don’t ask what REALLY matters to prospects. The better question is for what reason would prospects be willing to go through the hassles of changing banks? Banks ignore the facts. Banks today are a utility. They exist to help us distribute our money.

The less contact we have with them the better.

ATM use is up and rising. So are self-service lines at the supermarkets. Maybe First Citizens Bank should ask why.

How can we build a bridge with customers?

I know… let’s talk about how friendly we are and how the customer is always first. As if anyone who wants to limit person-to-person contact cares. Even if being friendly were a differentiator (and it’s not), nobody cares.

I’ve got an idea. A new ad campaign for First Citizens Bank. Came right off last night’s pizza box. “You’ve tried the rest. Now try the best!!!”

Note the three exclamation points. It means we are saying it loudly and with confidence. That’ll help.

See more posts in the following related categories: bank advertising


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