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.