We can always learn something from our competitors, and banks, of course, are no exception. Sometimes the lessons are obvious — those "ah ha" moments where you can't help but sit back and admire what your rival has done. Other lessons are a bit more subtle, but informative nonetheless. With that in mind, we'd like to provide 10 things your financial services competitors can teach you about financial marketing. In some cases we'll name names. In others, we'll simply let the lesson speak for itself.
Revisit your brand. Successful banks realize their brand isn't carved in stone. Their buyer personas change, new products and offerings get rolled out, and social media increasingly becomes a more prevalent marketing trigger. And so a financial brand refresh is called for. This article in American Banker provides some interesting examples of smaller banks that successfully rebranded. For example, LowellBank in Lowell, Massachusetts, became Sage Bank this year as it looked to distance itself from a geographically constraining name.
Embrace LinkedIn. Don't get us wrong — Facebook and Twitter both very attractive social media platforms, regardless of one's industry. But successful banks understand that LinkedIn is more attuned to the nuances of the financial services sector. As this article notes, firms like Morgan Stanley and American Express have been particularly adept at leveraging the network. Click here for more insight on how financial services firms can use LinkedIn for lead generation.
Find your blogging voice. Successful financial brands have a unique and targeted voice on social media. These banks know who their target audience is, and they provide them with helpful and informative content in a way that is accessible and professional. Doing so strengthens your brand and in turn, your marketing efforts.
Obey unwritten social media rules. These include things like empowering advisers to build relationships on platforms like LinkedIn while at the same time avoiding informal language or addressing issues that won't apply to clients or prospects.
Build a community vibe. Take Missouri Bank, for example. Their Facebook Page acts as a kind of online neighborhood for their customers to interact with each other and the bank — much like their branches
Keep your messaging simple. Research suggests that the two most important factors driving consumer-banking preferences were fees, and call-center help. Successful brands boil their marketing messages to the customers' core needs; unsuccessful brands try to be all things to all people. Case in point: Ameriprise created an advisor search tool on its website that can log into LinkedIn to limit results to the prospect’s first- and second-level connections.
Ask, "How do my customers find me?" A variation on this question is "Where do my customers look for me?" Both questions speak to the heart of successful inbound marketing. Successful brands understand where customers want to engage and they establish a presence accordingly. Take social media, for example. Savvy banks targeting college graduates will use Facebook and things like chat to go to where their customers are.
They deliver compelling content. Banks need to exude professionalism and expertise. A great way to do this is publishing FAQs and blog posts that speak to customers' and leads' financial needs. Nicolet National Bank, which serves customers in Wisconsin and Michigan, for example, shares ideas and information through its blogs and audio and video podcasts on a community hub called The Vault.
Grow your brand with a special event or promotion. The most famous example is American Express' "Small Business Saturday," whose Facebook page has 2.4 million Likes and counting.
Innovate. Nothing markets your brand better than new and cool products. The Australian bank Commonwealth launched a service on Facebook called Kaching! that enables customers to exchange money using their Facebook accounts, email accounts or phone numbers.
What do you think? What lessons have your competitors taught you about successful financial marketing? Do you actively do things like check your competitors' social media sites?
Need more help in fine-tuning your financial marketing strategy? Contact us for a free consultation.