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Does your marketing sell the advantages of working with your regional bank or credit union? Or does it reinforce negative stereotypes that prevent people from doing business with you?

Small can be a good thing for customers who are skeptical of big banks as a result of the financial crisis, but it can be a challenge for others. Industry research has consistently revealed that if prospective bank customers perceive your institution as too small, they assume you’ll deliver inferior customer experiences, lack convenience and offer second-class technology than larger banks.  

Let’s face it, the reason people are drawn to bigger banks is because of perceived convenience and credibility. We’ve sat in countless focus group rooms where consumers articulated that they wish they didn’t bank with a big bank, but they’re willing to deal with the frustrations because of the prevalence of branches, ATMs and a superior digital/mobile banking experience.  

One challenge we see with many smaller banks is that their current marketing efforts aren’t doing them any favors in terms of perception. The cause: the ratio of their marketing budget dedicated to media versus the creative product. If 90 cents of every marketing dollar go toward media spending and your creative product is produced for a dime, consumers will equate inferior marketing and production to the capabilities and convenience of your bank. 

Think about the ads you see from “big banks.” They’re bright and clean, they tell a story, and they connect with their customers. You don’t need Chase’s budget to make similar feeling ads that resonate with your audiences, but a better balance between media spending versus creative investment is often needed. After all, a better creative product can mean less media dollars are needed to deliver the desired business impact.

Here are three ways you can get your ads to work harder for you.  Banks need to spend money on advertising creative.

Three Ways to Create Compelling Ads for Your Bank

Consider these three tactics to be more competitive in the market and get more return from your ad spend.

1. Think big.

Say this with me: “My bank is worth great ads.” When you think your bank is too small for quality advertising, your ads will reflect that attitude. You’ll undoubtedly have fewer impressions than the big banks, so it’s imperative that you make each and every one impactful. To do that, your advertising must go beyond name recognition and strike an emotional connection with your desired audience.

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2. Share a story.

Are your ads pushing information at people (we have these interest rates, this deal, these features), or do they draw people in and inspire them to take some sort of action? Stories (like this one from Lake City Bank) show how your bank can inspire, motivate, encourage and drive customers to success. They’ll leave your audience wanting to know how they can have a similar experience and inspire them to visit your website or branch to learn more.

3. Turn to the experts.

Many banks engage outside partners to help with various parts of their business, but do you hire professionals to create your marketing? While it can be appealing to let media outlets produce your ads, it’s not likely the creative will connect with your audiences. It’s not the core competency of a TV or radio station to create effective ads. Find a partner who has a track record of creating advertising that drives business impact and let them produce your campaigns. In the long run, it’s worth the investment, and your advertising will resonate with your audience while increasing new accounts opened and decreasing cost per acquisition. 

We know the cost to acquire bank customers is higher than just about any other industry, which underscores the need to nail both parts of the acquisition equation: media AND creative execution.  

Regional and community banks that focus their budget primarily on media spend risk a lower return and the reinforcement of negative perceptions of their ability to compete with larger – and digital only – institutions. Improve the first impression people have of your bank by also investing in quality creative execution in your advertising. In doing so, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at your ability to compete with the big banks.  

Interested in investing in your bank’s advertising qualityEmail me or call 317-631-6400.

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