The Big-Bang Theory


Four steps to transformational marketing results

By Chris Lorence

You probably haven’t given it a second thought, but have you ever considered how much of your daily life and the decisions you make along the way are influenced by marketing? Branding, logos, messaging: The strategic placement and timeliness alone for any of these are not left to happenstance. They are almost always precisely presented in a coordinated way for maximum overall impact.

In today’s sophisticated and cluttered retail banking market, how can a community bank raise its visibility and engage profitable new customers without allocating more resources toward marketing? The answer is, it can’t, at least not anymore.

Today’s consumers and small businesses use a wide range of resources, including the Internet and social media, to research potential financial relationship partners. Word-of-mouth referrals and traditional print and display advertising are still important, but brand alignment and authenticity are critical factors as well. If, for example, your advertising touts your community bank’s small-business lending focus or its customers-first culture, but if there isn’t a single social evangelist or recent testimonial on your website from a real customer who supports your claim, your marketing effort may simply fall flat.

Given the pressure on the bottom line, it may seem impossible to do more of anything, including marketing. But evaluating what’s happening right now with your existing marketing efforts and within your community bank could give your bank a new perspective and a bigger bang for its bucks.

Here are four steps to transformational marketing that should generate the remarkable results you want to achieve from your current marketing efforts and budgets.

1. Ask yourself: Is what we’re doing in marketing bringing us enough quality new business to pay for the effort? If the answer is no, consider taking a 360-degree approach to your campaign. Do the message and visuals match your bank’s reputation and image? Is the campaign properly positioned in the marketplace, in the right outlet, at the right audience? Is the campaign connected throughout your bank, including staff awareness, website, social media outlets and branch décor?

2. Does everyone who works in your community bank genuinely believe it is the best place in the community to do business? Authenticity matters and you’ll have a tough time convincing a customer that you’re really better than someone down the street if you don’t believe it yourself. Encourage staff members to be customers of the bank and use the products and services offered to build firsthand experience.

3. Does your marketing engage, empathize with and educate your audience? Connecting with customers requires more effort than a simple newspaper ad or billboard sign. Keep in mind potential new customers aren’t looking for friends. They are looking for financial expertise, someone they can trust, and products and services that help them accomplish their goals.

4. Consider how you are measuring marketing effectiveness; ideally, the ROI should not be completely financial. Although it would be great to be able to attribute each new customer to a particular marketing effort, it doesn’t work that way. So many times marketing and brand presence plant a seed that over time is reinforced by other activities such as community involvement, word-of-mouth referrals and networking.

Chris Lorence ( is ICBA’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer.