Bank Marketing is about as exciting as a local car sales campaign

What makes a good marketing campaign? This is a question that many business owners and decision makers in corporate America ask themselves for years. The results of the thinking is raining down on us on a daily basis in form of advertising in many forms, social media activities and uncounted other forms of activity to promote a product, service or a company. Marketing is considered one of the most important activities for a business. And, I think, it is true. If you are unable to make the consumer aware of whatever you have to sell, you won’t sell enough to make your campaign successful.

In the last sentence above lies one of the keys for a successful marketing campaign. Selling!! The activity of selling is at the end of the campaign, but the process of selling clearly is deciding on the success of every marketing campaign. While corporate America is investing incredible amounts of money in the top end of a marketing campaign, the investment in the executing part of the campaign is rather modest. An incredible example for such a blunder are banks. Bank marketing these days is ranking right next to car sales campaigns. While not as aggressive and loud as car sales campaigns, the content can not be any more boring and useless at the selling end of the campaign.

If you are a marketer or seller in a bank, take the time and walk the street up and down and look how banks represent themselves to their potential clients. What you will find is that one campaign looks like the other. If you couldn’t sperate the banks by their logo, you would believe it is all the same bank. With that “advantage of difference”, how in the world do you expect to beat the competition when it comes to selling?

The image of banks has taken a big hit over the past years. Creativity of the industry was and is limited to creating financial tools and products that allow them to bet in the financial markets, but has not made it into marketing campaigns towards the potential clients. The topic of bad bank marketing sometimes makes its way into the news of financial message boards and websites. Some writers are trying to compare banks with companies such as Apple and their marketing. These contributions on a regular basis create a healthy laugh for the readers of such articles, but leave the leadership of banks caught with their pants down. Indeed, if you look at a bank branch these days, what has actually changed compared to 30 years ago? And what’s the excitement to go in there? The answer is “not much” for the first question and “none” for the second. The same can be said about the marketing campaigns. And again, if you are on the selling side of a glorious bank marketing campaign, how do you want to make a difference? The results are the same year after year: Banks are exchanging customers and the same counts for the workforce. Meaningful growth comes from aquisitions, still.

So, what can banks do to be different? I claim, I have the answer. I am even willing to share it. Not in detail, but with some hints and tips:

  • Get rid of the consulting handbook. Because if you operate with that, you will have the same campaign as everyone else. Remember the free iPod campaign? Or $100 when you open an account? And all that ballony with the unified sales process? Besides that, it will increase your ability to be flexible and quicker when you need it.
  • Find some creative people that are able to make a difference, with experience from outside the banking industry, but not consulting.
  • Involve sales and business development heavily in your campaign.
  • Partner with someone that is “in”.
  • Try to be closer to the public (that’s where your profit comes from). Change your public display of what you wish to be to what you are and can be.

These five steps are mandatory for banks success in the future. Those banks that are stuck in the old bank world will disappear, because someone will eventually change the banking industry and will be successful with it.

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