Monday, March 16, 2009

Ohio community banker talks “tough”
on his website.

While other banks were issuing letters and written statements about the state of their financial institutions, Bill Carr, president and CEO of Liberty National Bank, decided to literally roll up his shirt-sleeves and talk to the public. Carr is featured in two video podcasts which appear on his bank’s website. And, his message isn’t buried deep within the site. It’s front and center on the homepage. When accessed, the podcasts appear as a pop-up on the site.

While I’ve seen other bank presidents give video presentations on their websites, I prefer the genuine appeal of this one. First, this is a community bank with only 5 offices located in central Ohio. They can’t rely on slick, expensive videography. Second, Carr’s content is quite compelling. Rather than give the perfunctory, “we’re just fine” spiel, the president and CEO of this bank with $192 million in assets gives a tough and frank assessment of the economy. He hits the topic of subprime mortgages head on and reflects on their effect on community banking. This 40-year bank veteran addresses cost -cutting measures the bank intends to pursue including e-services (online statements), but pledges to retain employees. Carr even remarks on the new administration in Washington, D.C. His podcast is definitely a refreshing look at the entire banking situation. Because he is so honest, the customer definitely feels confident about Liberty National.

“Even at our shareholder meetings, he pretty much tells it like it is,” explained Heather Cox, Liberty National’s assistant vice president of marketing in an interview about Carr’s style.

Why should community banks consider
presidential podcasts?

Through my work with e-newsletters for our clients, we know that the President’s Message
garners the most readership each time these newsletters are broadcast. In fact, I’ve done a post on the importance of the President’s Letter, entitled “What can the ‘President’s Message’ do for your marketing?” And, I’ve encouraged bank marketing execs to take advantage of this prime real estate in their communications efforts. Liberty National has taken the President’s Message to a new and impressive level. And, I applaud this community bank for their ingenuity.

Podcasts supported with traditional media.
Rather than just let the podcast stand on its own merit, Cox supported the online video with news releases, newspaper ads and radio spots. The traditional marketing efforts helped drive traffic to the podcasts. Cox reports that the 1st video in the 2-part series received appox. 400 hits in February alone.

An advertising consultant produced the two podcasts for the bank’s marketing department. Each podcast is roughly 3 minutes long. . . a nice, concise length that keeps the viewer engaged. Rather than an interviewer quizzing the president or a continuous monologue, the presentation is broken by a couple of “fades to black” on which a question is posed to the exec.

The Liberty National podcast ends with Carr informing viewers that he will be retiring this summer. Let’s hope his successor keeps up the “talk”.

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