What budget is the first to get slashed in an economic downturn? As we all know, it’s marketing. As a former ad agency guy, I have lived through many a downturn. We always knew that we were the first to lose our jobs when times started to get tough. And, when times began to improve, we were always the last to return to work. There’s an old agency metaphor for spending money in a downturn. We said it was “like shooting at ducks that aren’t there.” Well, right now, a lot of banks are looking to save their No. 2 Steel for another day.
But perhaps they’re not ready to give up entirely on bagging a few. I found Bill Streeter’s recent post on The Financial Brand1 both informative and, well, a bit encouraging, even though the challenge he addresses is that of “pinched budgets plus a tougher competition.”
Why do I find it encouraging when we’re talking about an industry being in somewhat of an “unenviable position?” Because I think I can help. Bill goes on to say: “New marketing technology can bring efficiency, which helps with budgets, but you can’t just snap your fingers to get there. It requires investment in software and talent.”
I couldn’t agree more.
While a “new marketing technology” deficit is one of them, there are a handful of issues banks face when it comes to marketing in today’s economic turmoil. The Financial Brand interviewed Chandramouli Venkatesan, Market Development Executive in Capgemini’s Financial Services and Capital Markets, who pointed out some additional issues. “Multiple touch points to execute a campaign, lack of standardization of campaign components and manual handling of data should be solved by a marketing resource management solution,” he said. “The problem is that many of these software tools are out of date.” He goes on to state that talent is a tougher challenge. “To have an agile marketing team, an institution needs a blend of expertise in digital marketing technology, data, marketing and creative,” says Venkatesan. He acknowledges that external help will likely be needed.
And this is where I think we can help. For those of you who aren’t familiar with bankmarketingcenter.com, we currently work with 20 state bankers associations and over 300 banks, helping them address the challenges faced by their marketing teams. Our partner banks have access to several thousand professionally designed layouts — created by agency trained, financial services industry professionals — ranging from social media messaging, banner ads and in-branch signage to print and radio advertising. With unlimited access to millions of Getty Images, as well as the ability to customize copy and colors, banks can personalize these marketing materials quickly and easily, saving valuable time and money. When Jim went on to say that “it is becoming increasingly challenging to deploy modern marketing with legacy talent, skills and mindset … and that most financial institutions will be better advised to partner with specialty organizations to provide the needed skills,” I said to myself, he is exactly right. And that is what we’ve been trying to do with bankmarketingcenter.com.
If ever there were a time when you should be making use of every marketing communication tool at your disposal and being as efficient about the process as possible, this is it. As a financial institution, a trusted institution, you must keep your customers abreast of important economic developments, as well as the products and services that you can offer to help them navigate those developments. And you need to use every available tactic to do so: Social posting, advertising, newsletters, email, webinars and direct mail.
While there may be fewer ducks to shoot at, that doesn’t mean you stop duck hunting entirely. It means that you have to get better at it.