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Not every bank should be advertising. Is this your bank?

I know it seems odd for an ad agency guy to be saying not to advertise. But, it’s true. Some banks should stop spending money in advertising. There are at least three things banks do that make it impossible for advertising to work. Are you guilty of one or more?

ONE: You don’t know how effective your current media buy is.

Is this you: “I’m spending money on the Friday Night High School Football Program because everybody in town listens to it.” Before you spend ad money, consider this: you absolutely must have a sound, audience measurement report for every media you are using. In my experience, the “everybody” who supposedly listens turns out to be 39 people, or less. Believe me, if you haven’t measured your media effectiveness, you can’t be sure what you are getting – or not getting – for your investment. You may be unpleasantly surprised at the value of what you are spending. Try this: fill in the blanks below for every ad media you use. If you can’t do this, call me and I’ll help you. I might even do it for free – or at most, lunch.)

  1. My advertising media investment is $ _________ in ______________(media name) every ________________ (month, week, whatever.)
  2. I am buying _______ units every month (commercials or column inches.)
  3. My primary audience demographic is ___________. (For example, adults 25-54.)
  4. I am reaching ____________ % of my primary demographic every month. (50% would be nice.)
  5. My target demographic sees/hears my message an average of ______ times per month. (Ten times a month would be good.)

If you can’t fill in the blanks above, you should stop advertising, because there’s an overwhelming probability you are not using your ad budget effectively. The data is out there, it is knowable. Don’t spend any more money until you get it. (An exception to this is that you stop calling what you are doing “advertising” and start calling it “donations.”)

TWO: You’re not spending enough.

Is this you: “I have $2,500 to spend. To make that last all year, I’ll spend $200 a month and leave a $100 cushion.” Spending too little is the most common mistake bankers make. It the case above, the banker would have been far better off to spend nothing, and use the entire $2,500 and treat the entire staff to lunch a few times. The golden rule of advertising is “spend what it takes to get at least a 50% hit-rate on your target demographic, for at least one month, generating, at least, an average frequency of 10 times.” If you don’t have the money to do that, then don’t do anything. And, if you can only do that for one month, then for heaven’s sake, don’t try spreading that over many months. It won’t work.

THREE: You don’t have a specific, quantifiable goal for your advertising budget to achieve.

Is this you: “I’m not looking for a specific result, I’m just trying to get my name out there.” If this IS you, please stop and consider this: it’s very important to make value judgments about your ad results. You should have some concrete goals: 100 new checking accounts, 50 new Remote Deposit accounts in 12 months, or some specific objective you can measure. Sometimes the measurement is subtle: you want to raise community awareness that you didn’t take TARP money. You should be able to quantify at least a dozen comments from your depositors and others that lets you know the message is being received. Somehow, some way, you need to be satisfied you are getting results.

SUGGESTION: Spend a few hundred dollars (usually less than $500) and buy an Advertising Effectiveness Report.

We’re an ad agency. We create advertising that WORKS. We can measure your spending so you will know if you’re getting your money’s worth. We know what works and what doesn’t. So, before you spend any more money on advertising, call us. It can’t hurt.