Comprehensive and Connected


A strong, integrated approach to marketing gets the best results

By Lori Philo-Cook

Having a strong brand can set your community bank apart from your competitors, help it reach various business goals and, perhaps most fundamentally, increase its bottom line. But developing a brand that resonates with current and prospective customers isn’t easy. Your bank’s brand is a culmination of all the experiences, or touches, that a customer has with your bank, its products and its employees.

By taking an integrated approach to marketing, your community bank will have more touches that create more opportunities to build deeper, more lasting customer relationships.

There are many elements of marketing, but too often community banks utilize just a few of them. Commonly, the banks do advertising, public relations, lobby and drive-up promotions, brochures and basic information for a website. Using an integrated marketing approach, however, means adopting many or all of the functions to more effectively communicate with current and prospective customers and to do so in a variety of ways.

By taking an integrated approach to marketing, your community bank will have more touches that create more opportunities to build deeper, more lasting customer relationships.

Each additional element of the marketing mix provides more opportunities to connect, generate interest and move customers to act. It generally takes at least three marketing “touches” or exposures before people pay attention, and it takes several more touches or exposures to get people to act on a marketing message. For the greatest success, marketing should target the best customer prospects multiple times in several different ways.

A successful integrated approach to marketing, particularly when launching a new product or service, should start with a survey to assess customer needs and interest. That research, particularly customer input, should be used to help determine the marketing messages that will have the most appeal. Outlining clear, measurable goals and developing a campaign plan to support those goals should be an early part of the marketing process.

Developing a strong campaign and supporting it with traditional media and online advertising come next in the marketing process. Here also is where public relations activities should be used to encourage local media to help deliver your marketing message when it is newsworthy. Consider adding a moving banner and a special landing page to convey your bank’s marketing messages on its website. Email is another potentially effective communication channel, as well as discussions on social media. Online videos are becoming increasingly important communication channels as well. Deposit receipts, creative lobby materials and ATM screens also offer effective marketing opportunities.

Internal marketing is a too-often overlooked part of a complete, integrated approach to marketing. Here, an employee-testing period is valuable to fine-tune a product or service before it is introduced, and it can give employees hands-on experience. Kicking off campaigns by providing employees with campaign goals and marketing program details helps employees learn about and better support the campaign or a new product or service sales effort. Including a sales or referral contest to motivate employees to help sell a new product or service can improve results.

A strong, integrated marketing program can give your community bank the ability to make marketing decisions based upon sound analytics and research, differentiate itself in its marketplace, target the right customers with the right messages, engage its employees in sales efforts and build customer loyalty. Some marketing functions may be managed outside of marketing, depending on the skills and experience of other bank staff. Functions such as research, advertising and website updates can be outsourced.

For most of my career I have directed marketing at community banks in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest. I now do consulting, conduct marketing workshops for community bankers and mentor less-experienced marketers. I am passionate about community banking but also concerned. Both banking and marketing are changing rapidly, and too many community banks are not keeping up. Based on my experience, too many don’t fully understand the power of a strong, integrated marketing program.

If I could send one message to community bank executives, I would say give more support to your community bank’s marketing efforts and begin building a brand that helps your bank stand out from a growing number of aggressive competitors. It doesn’t cost much more money to be creative and take the extra steps, but it can mean changing how you view marketing and what it truly encompasses. It can make a powerful difference for your community bank.

Lori Philo-Cook ( is the owner of InnovoMarketing in Yukon, Okla., and Anchorage, Alaska. A Certified Financial Marketing Professional, Philo-Cook has more than 25 years of experience managing marketing and public relations for community banks. She has a Bachelor of Arts in communications from Oakland University and a Master of Arts in communications from Wayne State University. Find her on Twitter at @PhiloCook.