Friday, November 30, 2007

Turn your email signature into a marketing advantage!

Whether you are a small community bank or a regional financial institution, your email signature can pack a marketing wallop. And, it’s a simple, but more importantly FREE, marketing tool. At the bottom of your signature file, tout an aspect of your bank which sets you apart from the pack. Adding a statistic can add even more impact and show that you are results oriented.

Your marketing signature can be as simple as. . .

(For small bank):
“Reaching out to 10 new businesses every day!”
“An SBA Preferred Lender for 10 years and counting.”
“We believe in results. That’s why our loan meetings meet TWICE a week.”

(For larger financial institution):
“Opening over 300 new checking accounts every week. There’s a reason why so many small businesses choose XYZ Bank!”
“We have over 25 different ways to help you finance your project.”

John J. Wood, the former Microsoft exec who left his job to found a non-profit overseas literacy organization, uses this simple technique on all of his emails. In his book, “Leaving Microsoft to Change the World”, he recounted that donors often wonder what happens to the funds they give to various organizations. He decided that instead of talking about what they were going to do, he’d promote what they had done. Wood found that if his organization sent out 300 emails a day for correspondence, he had 300 opportunities to tell people what his organization had or had not accomplished. “Few other charities are so accountable, and we knew it would be a great point of differentiation as we competed for scarce funds,” wrote Wood. “They have thousands of charities to choose from. We need to give them every reason to pick (us).”

This same strategy can work with community banking! While Wood’s charity is using the tactic to influence funding, the banking community can use the same logic to influence prospects and customers.

Woods told his team that all day, every day, the foundation was now accountable for results. In other words, they needed to live up to that claim in the email signature. And, promoting those statistics or theme can be a motivator for your bank, too. Woods added that, “nothing focuses the mind quite like having to broadcast your results hundred of times per day.” Knowing your bank is monitoring certain metricseach day, each month. . . and bragging about it, your entire organization will be focused on holding on to or improving it’s ranking. . . . or living up to your claim.

If you feel you don’t have a strong enough metric to promote, then find another aspect of your organization you can tout. But don’t waste this valuable opportunity to market. . . for FREE!

Monday, November 19, 2007

How to hire a bank marketing professional. . . or other bank personnel.

Herb Kelleher is a founder of Southwest Airlines Co. and served as Executive Chairman from March 1978 to May 2008 and as President and CEO from September 1981 through June 2001. Kelleher once gave his philosophy on hiring employes:

"It's difficult to change someone's attitude - so hire for attitude and train for skill."

A great motto, whether you're looking for someone to head your bank marketing department, lender, teller. . .

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Flaunt your SBA Preferred Lender status!

If you’ve earned the distinction of being an SBA Preferred Lender, then make sure your prospects and customers know it. And, more importantly, make sure they understand what the designation means to them. . . that you can fast track their SBA loans. Why hide the distinction. It could differentiate you from other lenders. . . especially when other banks don’t have it to offer.

Promote your designation in a big way.
We recently prepared a commercial loan folder, or “leave behind” piece, for a client. An entire piece was devoted to our client being an SBA Preferred Lender. We told what the distinction meant, how it was earned, that it was given to the SBA’s best lenders, and what the designation meant for our customer. We also went on to promote popular SBA loans and why businesses should consider these types of loans.

Sign off with status!
You may even want your lenders to include the SBA Preferred Lender designation in their correspondence sign offs, including their signature lines on emails. A great no-cost method to announce your advantage.

So get out there and wear your SBA Preferred Lender status proudly!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Article Placement vs. Content. And, the winner is. . .

Expert after expert has claimed that the placement of an article is an indicator of whether it will be seen and read. That has been the commandment from my early journalist days working on a newspaper to current e-newsletter trends. The rule is that the article under the masthead wins the readership race. But, not so fast! We’ve been surprised to find that content is becoming the true star, or at the very least, can tilt the results in another direction.

Scrolling the depths!
In e-newsletters we’ve created for clientele, we’ve had articles that were placed at the very bottom of the email. . . where readers literally had to scroll to see them. . . earn the most readership. What did it? An intriguing headline followed by an interesting teaser. Then, paid off by excellent content. One winning headline read, CEO voted one of the women to watch! Of course, readers wanted to know who the CEO was and why she deserved to be watched.

Watch how you say it.
I’m not advocating putting your best articles at the bottom of your e-zine. But what these results have said to us is that content, coupled with a well-crafted headline, can certainly sway your readership numbers. And, it’s not always placement that determines a well-read article.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

What can the "President's Message" do for your marketing?

Having been involved in bank marketing for many years, and having written “the President’s Message” for various banks and financial institutions, I doubted the relevance or pull of such a message when used in consumer and internal newsletters and similar communications. First, I knew it wasn’t really the President’s words. If I hadn’t written them, then another marketing person had. Rarely, and I mean rarely, had the President or CEO actually taken the time to communicate with his/her customers or even employees through this medium.

Boy, was I in for a shock!
Since we’ve been working in the highly trackable medium of e-mail newsletters, we’ve been able to see not only what is the readers’ preferred content in these newsletters, but what the reader actually views first! Not only is the President’s Message the highest scoring content, but it is the first thing read. This is true whether it be a newsletter to clientele, such as small business customers, or an internal employee newsletter! So no matter who’s your audience, the President’s Letter is of high importance and value.

Could placement affect its popularity?
Some of its high scoring ability could be in the placement of the CEO’s Message. . . at the top of the e-newsletter or email. That placement usually scores higher. Since I do not foresee a time when the President’s Message would be relegated to the bottom section of the newsletter, there’s no way to test the importance of positioning.

Content is critical.
With the obvious popularity of the President’s Letter, then content is critical. I’ve seen prepared messages that are long and rambling, or so technical and dry that the intended audience couldn’t relate. Think of the President’s Message as the Sunday sermon. Parishoners get the most out of a short, to-the-point message. And, or course, they remember it better.
By all means, encourage the President or CEO to write this all-important communication. Your CEO has his/her own style, his/her own way of expressing themselves. Let his/her personality shine through. It’s easy to spot a fake or a ghost-written letter! And, it means more if it comes directly from the President!

Make sure your CEO understands its value.
The President’s Message is a highly important promotional tool. It can be used to introduce a new product, relate a client story, motivate the troops or just say thank you. Use it to your institution’s best advantage and give it the attention and thought that it deserves. Don’t let it languish and become an obligatory copywriting duty. And, by all means, make sure that your CEO understands the importance of this highly recognized communiqué.

The future. . . more testing.
Hopefully, in the near future, we’ll be able to test these findings against messages from an individual banker vs. the president’s message.