4 minute read

Depending on which scientific study you believe to be true, the human attention span is anywhere between 2-8 seconds. So, basically, I’ve grabbed your attention by now, or you’re out. Fingers crossed!

The best way to get someone’s attention is to present something they can relate to or something that entertains them. And in order to be relatable, you have to tap into a truth about what’s motivating their behavior (even if it feels dark). The audience’s reaction should be “they get me.” Or, if you’re entertaining your audience, provide value in exchange for their time – usually through laughs.

Unfortunately, some bank marketing fails to connect with potential customers by not being relatable or empathetic. Or they simply market themselves in the same way as other financial institutions. Looking and acting the same as other banks or credit unions won’t cut it in the pursuit of someone’s attention, regardless of whether we’re talking about consumer or commercial banking. In addition, it reinforces the idea that all banks are the same, so it doesn’t really matter who they choose to partner with.

Oftentimes when clients come to us, they’ve been relying on the expected “bank marketing playbook,” which fails to drive results. Perhaps you can relate to some of these examples:

  • Posed images of bank executives – All banks are run by people. A lot of them wear suits to work every day. Certainly, there are times to feature your key leaders, but here’s an example of how to do it in an interesting way.
  • Rate-driven creative – Most industry consumer research indicates that consumers have low financial literacy. Do they even know the difference between APR and APY or whether 2.9% is a good rate? The answer is likely “no.” The consumer has to know that they’re interested in doing business with you first. Rates are something that can be talked about after you’ve gotten their attention, to seal the deal. Plus, do you really want to update your creative every time your rates change?
  • Trite stock photography – This is a tough one because marketing budgets are tight. But a lot of stock photography used in bank marketing is overly posed or even unrealistic. A few examples are people shaking hands at the close of a loan, a new car buyer holding the keys to her new ride or a family frolicking on the lawn of their new home. (Do a Google image search of bank advertising to see what I’m talking about). Instead, try to find images that pay off the message of your ad in an authentic or interesting way, like in this campaign for ProFed Credit Union.
  • Overplaying community support/involvement – All community banks and credit unions are involved in their community through volunteering, funding local initiatives and many other ways. The challenge is that it’s hard to out “community” the next guy. And our research with bank and credit union clients suggests that it’s not an acquisition driver. It’s something that makes your customers feel good about their partnership with you, after the fact. So, instead of using community involvement messages to market to prospects, focus on using these types of messages to reinforce your position with existing customers or members.
  • Lack of personality in copy – It’s very important that your marketing take on a human-centric tone. Whether you’re working with an in-house copywriter or an outside partner, direct them to take a more conversational approach to copy. Even as a financial institution, your content doesn’t have to feel stiff or full of information. You’ll have plenty of time to get into the details, but you have to grab someone’s attention first. Stay focused and casual in your top-of-funnel marketing efforts.

We’ve helped many community banks and credit unions distinguish themselves by creating a “personality” that people can relate to. Here’s a couple of questions we like to ask that may be helpful the next time you evaluate new creative:

  • Is the imagery believable? Would customers ever actually see or experience what’s being represented?
  • Does this demonstrate empathy for the customer? Does it consider the financial literacy of the customer?
  • Is it compelling – humorous, thought provoking, unexpected, etc.?
  • Does it make us stand out? In a good way?
  • Would this get my attention?

We understand that work that stands out can feel risky and a diversion from the traditional bank marketing playbook. But these aren’t traditional times. Standing out matters!

If you’d like to explore making your bank or credit union advertising un-ignorable, contact us.