The Five Fundamentals of Community Bank and Credit Union Marketing

Sean Galli
The Five Fundamentals of Community Bank and Credit Union Marketing

The second part of this blog series covered how to forge an incredible brand. But an incredible brand means little if you don’t tell anyone about it. Or in other words, a brand means little if you don’t market it!

Consumers don’t automatically know who you are and what you offer. They’ll never know without you telling them.

But how you tell them matters too.

Marketing is more than running into the street and shouting your name along with “loans,” “accounts” and “rates.” There are some fundamentals to understand if you want effective community bank and credit union marketing.

1. Cut the Copy

An excessive amount of copy is the most common problem found during bank and credit union marketing assessments. Words are great, but too many words are not. You must carefully select your words to provide maximum clarity alongside maximum readability.

You don’t have to tell consumers everything about a product or service. Rank and prioritize. What do people most need to hear? What do people most want to hear?

If it’s not needed or wanted, it almost certainly shouldn’t be written. Your website and marketing pieces must become curated exhibits tailored to provide the consumer high value as quickly as possible.

Institutions often have questions about disclosures and fee schedules in this regard. Where necessary, you have no choice but to include them. Try to ensure they aren’t overbearing or intrusive.

And if you really don’t need it or it’s optional, leave it out!

Remember: people aren’t reading your stuff for pleasure. They’re reading to locate solutions while trying to conserve as many mental calories as possible. Play into how they read with briefer copy.

2. Consistency

Consistent community bank and credit union marketing is vital to your success. It stakes out territory in the consumer’s mind and makes you recognizable in the marketplace.

Exploding Topics says consistent brand marketing increases revenue by 10-20%. That’s a huge return for ensuring brand standards are uniform across all channels and pieces. And it’s all because consistent marketing lends an air of professionalism, dependability and respectability to your brand.

If you can adequately handle consistency with your own branded marketing, it’s likely you’re responsible enough to handle a consumer’s money too. And if you can’t maintain consistency…well, you know the rest.

You start as you mean to go on, and people will make assumptions about you based on marketing consistency.

Remember to keep an eye on these items when it comes to marketing consistency:

  • Strategy – Align your marketing with brand strategy before anything else.
  • Messaging – Use a common voice and tone everywhere. Don’t deviate.
  • Logo – Place it in the same spots and ensure a common appearance on pieces.
  • Imagery – Use common colors and 2-3 image styles.

3. Clarity

The first point on cutting the copy mentioned “maximum clarity.” As Donald Miller says, “If you confuse, you lose.”

Being clear is more important than shortening your copy or using a clever turn of phrase. Consumers must understand you before they buy what you’re selling. And consumers must understand you to trust you.

Think of when you’re watching a bad commercial. There’s moving images, flashing lights and when you reach the end, you say: “What in the world did I just watch?” You really might have no clue what the company does, which means you can never purchase from them. But you also might have lingering doubts…is it vague on purpose?

Dispense with both these issues when you prioritize clarity. Capitalize on the 70% of consumers who repeatedly use brands they trust.

Here are some tips to help you have clearer messaging in your community bank and credit union marketing:

  • Keep word choice at an eighth-grade level
  • Run your marketing by a test reader/viewer for a “clarity check”
  • Coordinate imagery and copy to convey a common message

4. Creativity

Now, here’s what sets you apart from everyone else. You get a seat at the table with controlled copy, consistency and clarity. But creativity lets you dominate a market.

Because let’s be honest: most financial institutions offer the same products and services (with maybe some slight variations). Deposit or loan rates can set you apart, but often at the expense of your balance sheet. Creative marketing makes you fun – a place people want to go and experience.

This is a delicate balancing act with clarity. You can’t compromise clarity with high-brow creativity, but you also don’t want dull messaging that interests no one.

Creativity is a tricky part of bank and credit union marketing because there’s no magic cure to make every message innovative. One thing you can easily do is simply pay attention. Look around. What intrigues you? What works on you?

Ally Bank’s use of its name while simultaneously communicating its brand’s value proposition is a great example of creative financial marketing.

Acquire inspiration from the marketing around you, practice and test out different concepts. Soon enough, you’ll have a solid creative muscle.

5. Everyone is in Marketing

Back office. Teller line. Boardroom and C-suite. No matter where you are in the institution, you are part of the community bank or credit union marketing department.

Every person represents the institution and is a brand ambassador.

Consumers attribute praise or blame to the bank or credit union. Not individuals. That’s why everyone must know what’s happening at the institution; employees represent something bigger than themselves and concretely affect word-of-mouth marketing in your community.

Give employees a marketing mindset with:

  • Logowear – You can’t ignore your role when literally wearing the company logo.
  • Outreach – Empower staff to serve the community under your banner.
  • Storytelling – Place employee work in the context of a grander narrative.

Are you worried about missing the fundamentals in your own bank and credit union marketing? On The Mark Strategies reviews your marketing and tells you where to improve as part of a marketing assessment.

Book a free consultation today, and get an outside perspective on your marketing.

Sean Galli
Marketing Coordinator
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