In recent years, there’s been a lot of talk in the banking industry about whether or not traditional advertising is worth the paper on which it’s printed. Some say digital is the only way to go. They say the financial services industry is a decade behind other industries with the move to digital marketing strategies and that much work is needed to catch up.
There’s no denying that digital marketing channels have improved light years over a small window of time. We’ve gone from static web pages and simple social media posts to mobile apps, location-based mobile incentives and interactive content. Digital marketing enables financial institutions to reach consumers real-time with incentives that match where they are and what they are doing at any given moment. That’s is valuable outreach you cannot achieve with traditional marketing.
That’s only one piece of a digital marketing strategy. There’s also investing in technology that helps deploy your digital strategy, leveraging internal external data to improve marketing personalization and results and the advanced analytics to measure marketing performance. All of this is important, but it’s not your only lifeline when it comes to marketing. In fact, what sometimes goes by the wayside is the truth that digital marketing often requires more attention behind the scenes than traditional advertising. That’s not necessarily a bad thing if it yields favorable results, but not all financial institutions have the manpower to follow through on a digital strategy immediately.
There’s still a place for traditional advertising amidst of all the marketing noise in the financial services industry. If we go back to marketing basics, what is the purpose of any marketing effort? The goal is to get the right offer or message into the right hands at the right time, while differentiating you from others in your market. How much junk mail – actual physical mail -do you still get these days compared to the number of text messages and e-mails you receive? When is the last time you received a handwritten note in the mail?
It is quite possible that we have reached the tipping point in digital marketing – that point where snail mail sticks out more than e-mail or texts simply because we are receiving so much more advertising on our phones and computers. A hand-written note or postcard, a letter with something small stuffed inside just to pique curiosity or even a letter sent in an overnight envelope is often just enough of a differentiator to get consumers’ attention.
Crafting Your Strategy
This by no means implies you should negate your digital strategy. Digital marketing provides opportunities traditional advertising just can’t. Any financial institution with plans to survive the next decade must have a digital strategy in place, but some smaller community banks and credit unions may need to ease into that more than financial institutions with larger budgets. Here are some steps you can take to get to get there.
- First, conduct an inventory, so to speak, of everything your marketing team does – print marketing, digital marketing, special events, etc. Then, conduct a marketing audit for an unbiased, third party perspective of how effective you marketing efforts really are. What are the results of your efforts? Are they profitable? What should you stop doing? Make this an honest assessment. Are you doing something just because you’ve always done it or because it makes sense? Use numbers to justify your answer.
- Review your financial institution’s annual and/or strategic plan and compare it to your marketing plan. Do your marketing initiatives support your financial institution’s strategic goals? Remove anything not tied to your organization’s goals?
Editor’s Note: Listen to Jim Marous from The Financial Brand and The Digital Banking Report talk about building a modern marketing plan in our webinar “Stop the Insanity: Five Reasons Your 2017 Marketing Plan Will Fail”
- Research digital tools – marketing tools, deployment tools and analytics – and their costs to determine which ones would be increase marketing efficiency and results. Remember to consider manpower in this research. Tools are not effective if you don’t have the manpower to use them correctly, and allocating human resources differently could require approval from your HR department or senior leadership team.
- Decide what you can do now digitally and what needs to wait. Implement what you can and plan for the rest.
- Use all of this information to put together a long-range digital plan. Detail what you will stop doing next year and the year after that, and how you will replace it with a digital marketing channel. Again, use numbers to justify these decisions. You will need those numbers if you are asking your financial institution to make a significant investment in tools or people.
- If you have a non-traditional advertising channel that works and is profitable, keep doing it. Why fix what isn’t broken?
There’s a lot of pressure on financial institutions today to ditch tradition and go digital, and for good reason. Digital touches consumers immediately and can be more efficient. But that doesn’t mean traditional advertising is dead. Only an honest assessment of your marketing plan can reveal where you are in the digital marketing journey and how far you have to go.