Online Advertising and Marketing Strategies for Financial Institutions

Part 1: Making it Digital But Keeping it Personal

Once upon a time, families gathered in living rooms and listened to the radio. Later, they watched TV. In the morning before or in the evening right after work, adults in the family perused the newspaper.

Or so I’m told. Whether or not that’s how it really was a few decades ago, that’s not how it is today. Families these days may watch TV together. Equally likely, they may divide themselves among two or three TVs in different rooms, tuned to different stations. Or they may not tune to a station at all, but instead stream content, possibly commercial-free. If there are commercials, they may watch them, or they may run to the bathroom, text, tweet, make a voice call, play Minecraft (or Angry Birds or Candy Crush), talk to others in the room, mute the sound, listen to music, check Facebook, scratch, peruse a magazine, what have you. In fact, they may do all of these things during the programming that the content provider fantasizes holds them rapt.

That, in a nutshell, is why industry leaders harp on the fact that you cannot get the same results from traditional media channels that you used to get. To drive new business and grow relationships, banks and credit unions need a spectrum of digital weapons.

My “digital weapons” list is long, so I shall mercifully serve them  up a few at a time. For today’s digital weapon, I want to focus on the seeming paradox of …

Making it digital while keeping it personal

Your clients want digital, but with a personal touch. Remember the rhetoric about banking as a relationship business? It still is. Preserving it while going digital only seems like a paradox. It needn’t be.

There is no reason you cannot infuse your online presence with personality. You did it back in the Dark Ages with print and broadcast media. You used strategy, tone, and design. Those basic tools haven’t gone away. They are as vital online as they ever were elsewhere. That means that besides making apps that are smooth, fast, intuitive, and functional, you must also design and word them so that they come across as uniquely you.

Here’s a good test. Mask the logos and names on your apps and on those of competitors. If the average client paying half attention cannot see any appreciable difference among them, you have work to do.

As for the relationship side, you have plenty of online tools. Though clients are no longer as willing as they once were to hop in the car and run to your office, they still want interaction with real people. It is precisely that problem that the likes of live chat and voice interaction were designed to solve.

Some companies are guilty of a serious error. They make live interaction options hard to find, burying them behind DIY options such as FAQs, help forums, and email options. The overriding message this sends is, “We’ll do anything we can to avoid interacting with you.” It is the antithesis of a relationship business. By all means, make DIY options plainly available, but make on-the-spot, direct contact via live chat and text equally so. Want to get really wild? Make your phone number easy to find.

Of course, this requires that the people at your end be knowledgable, empowered, and pleasant. Never underestimate that last one, namely, pleasant. Physicians have long known that a good beside manner reduces the threat of a malpractice action. Likewise, your clients will overlook “a multitude of sins” if they like the person they’re dealing with.

More “digital weapons” will be coming up in future posts …

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