Smart marketing is as precious as capital.
Every banker knows the importance of capital to survival. There’s no doubt that’s true.
Here’s something else that is also true: smart, savvy marketing is just as precious as capital because you don’t get capital without it. One improves the other. Strong survivor banks will have plenty of both.
If you want to get personal about it, marketing is a much less demanding source of capital than investors.
Smart marketing makes for loyal customers. Loyal customers will stay with you when things get tough. Loyal customers make for strong banks. Nobody disputes this. But, in the crush of running the bank, the marketing part can get pushed aside. After all, the examiners don’t have an exam for marketing. (They look at advertising—that’s an entirely different and less important matter.)
Becoming a Smart Marketer means becoming a Mind Reader
Do your own “market” research. You won’t get very far unless you are able to get inside the head of your customers, prospects and, don’t forget, your employees.
You have some choices about this. Fortunately, there are simple ways to immerse yourself in your market’s mind. The internet has made this easy. If you have plenty of customers in your bank who are between 25 and 45, then the list below will work for you. (Different bank customer demographics might alter the list somewhat.)
How to divine the mind of your market: go here 40 minutes a day, two days a week:
Since it is your intuition that is often the final arbiter at the bank, it should be well informed. Fortunately, the web makes it easy to stay in touch with your market. For example, if your bank has a large segment of 25 – 45 adults, the links below will help you stay close. (If your market is older, say 45 and up, then you’ll need another list—and aarp.org will be a good place to start.)
- LA Times Personal Finance section
- LA Times Technology blogs
- Entertainment Tonight Online
- New York Times
- Atlanta Journal
Next, you need to understand your competition, particularly the way they interact with customers online — including internet bill pay. You should open accounts with each of the banks on your list of competitors and use them. Compare them with your own set up. Here’s a list of banks I follow (some of them for different, less positive reasons):
- Wells Fargo
- Bank of America
- TD Bank
- Scoctia Bank
- First Bank, Troy
- USAA (If you are ex-military)
This close monitoring of the above entities and their web activities may seem like an unnecessary intrusion on your schedule. But, nothing is further from the truth. It is something you should do yourself. You could delegate it, but you shouldn’t.