Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Energize your small business clientele
& you'll earn entrepreneurs' loyalty.

Small business is the backbone of many community banks’ customer base. And, being a small business myself, I must admit it’s a favorite topic of mine. Many bank marketing departments sometime overlook their small business segment. . . perhaps because retail banking seems so much more exciting. Since bank marketers are literally employees of the bank, and not entrepreneurs, they can easily relate to the average consumer’s point of view. While it’s difficult to put oneself in a business person’s suit, especially if you’ve never been there, you can still develop some exciting promotions.

As a bank marketer and small biz owner, I was excited when I received an email from the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal announcing their first Power Breakfast of the year. It’s entitled, Born in a Recession. The event will feature a panel of three business owners from companies that were started in a previous recession. According to the email, the panelists "will give insights into what has made them so successful and will share ideas on how to take advantage of the opportunities this economy presents.” Kudos to Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal. My only regret is that is wasn’t the brainchild of a community bank!

Right now small business owners need all the encouragement they can get. With the constant news that lending is down, SBA funds down. . . (whether correct or incorrect), your small business clientele needs the support of their banker. Why not set up a similar optimistic seminar for your small business customers and prospects? And, in an economy like this, many former employees are looking to start a business. . . more budding prospects for your bank. What about a seminar on How to Start a Biz in a Recession. Partnering with the likes of SCORE could be a logical option. If you wish to be more ambitious, consider an online webinar.

I understand that your financial institution may not have the manpower or budget to host such an event. Then use the topic as fodder for an audio or video podcast on your website, but be sure to promote it to your small biz prospects & clients. Or at the very least, write an appropriate newsletter article. During this economy, step up and position yourself as a small business leader.

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