Once upon a time, families gathered in living rooms and listened to the radio. Later, they watched TV. In the morning before or in the evening right after work, adults in the family perused the newspaper.
Or so I’m told. Whether or not that’s how it really was a few decades ago, that’s not how it is today. Families these days may watch TV together. Equally likely, they may divide themselves among two or three TVs in different rooms, tuned to different stations. Or they may not tune to a station at all, but instead stream content, possibly commercial-free. If there are commercials, they may watch them, or they may run to the bathroom, text, tweet, make a voice call, play Minecraft (or Angry Birds or Candy Crush), talk to others in the room, mute the sound, listen to music, check Facebook, scratch, peruse a magazine, what have you. In fact, they may do all of these things during the programming that the content provider fantasizes holds them rapt.
That, in a nutshell, is why industry leaders harp on the fact that you cannot get the same results from traditional media channels that you used to get. To drive new business and grow relationships, banks and credit unions need a spectrum of digital weapons.
My “digital weapons” list is long, so I shall mercifully serve them up a few at a time. For today’s digital weapon, I want to focus on the seeming paradox of …
Your clients want digital, but with a personal touch. Remember the rhetoric about banking as a relationship business? It still is. Preserving it while going digital only seems like a paradox. It needn’t be.
There is no reason you cannot infuse your online presence with personality. You did it back in the Dark Ages with print and broadcast media. You used strategy, tone, and design. Those basic tools haven’t gone away. They are as vital online as they ever were elsewhere. That means that besides making apps that are smooth, fast, intuitive, and functional, you must also design and word them so that they come across as uniquely you.
Here’s a good test. Mask the logos and names on your apps and on those of competitors. If the average client paying half attention cannot see any appreciable difference among them, you have work to do.
As for the relationship side, you have plenty of online tools. Though clients are no longer as willing as they once were to hop in the car and run to your office, they still want interaction with real people. It is precisely that problem that the likes of live chat and voice interaction were designed to solve.
Some companies are guilty of a serious error. They make live interaction options hard to find, burying them behind DIY options such as FAQs, help forums, and email options. The overriding message this sends is, “We’ll do anything we can to avoid interacting with you.” It is the antithesis of a relationship business. By all means, make DIY options plainly available, but make on-the-spot, direct contact via live chat and text equally so. Want to get really wild? Make your phone number easy to find.
Of course, this requires that the people at your end be knowledgable, empowered, and pleasant. Never underestimate that last one, namely, pleasant. Physicians have long known that a good beside manner reduces the threat of a malpractice action. Likewise, your clients will overlook “a multitude of sins” if they like the person they’re dealing with.
More “digital weapons” will be coming up in future posts …
This post is a reminder that tomorrow I’ll be participating as a panelist at Bank Innovation 2014 at the Grand Hyatt in Seattle.
Perhaps you remember the Bank Innovation people. You know, the ones who were kind enough to list me—ahead of Ashton Kutcher, don’t forget—as a “Bank Innovator to Watch.”
Our topic is “Advanced Bank Marketing in a Socially Connected World.” We’ll discuss:
• Creating a cohesive marketing strategy amid a wildly fragmented world
• The technology of “being there” at the right time/right place
• Quantifying return, realistically.
I’ll be presenting with Deva Annamalai (my former associate and current friend from Zions Bank), Eve Callahan (Umpqua Bank), and James Geeslin (Extraco Banks).
This an invitation-only event—click here if you’d like to be invited. If you’re planning on attending, please find me and say hello.
My Holiday Gift to You:
How to Filter Digital Media Content
I love digital media. As one who makes a living helping financial institutions marshal their marketing power, I’d be a fool not to.
Even so, digital media are a mixed blessing. They put mass audiences, once the exclusive province of the moneyed, within the reach of all. But like any pipeline, they care nothing about what flows through them. They deliver trash as readily as treasure.
This places the responsibility for sorting through the dump on the shoulders of individuals at the receiving end. Sadly, it is a responsibility that many neglect. Which is how bogus tales catch fire and spread.
Recent examples of fakes include a story about sending rude messages on napkins to a whiner on an airplane, one about an insulting message left on a check for a server, and tales of insensitive quotes from the celebrity or politician of your choice.
Some fast-spreading fakes may be harmless, but not all. As I write, digital media are spreading nonsensical anti-vaccination hysteria that kills children. Get-rich-quick schemes are depleting people’s life savings. False accusations are costing innocent people their jobs, marriages, and community standing. Bogus medical treatments are keeping seriously ill people from seeking appropriate care. Once limited to small, word-of-mouth circles, these and other instances of harmful misinformation now spread virally and cause real harm.
Who knows? The next bogus story to go viral might just be about your financial institution.
When trusted friends or generally reliable news sources post a story, how do we know what to pass along and what not to? As my holiday gift to you, here are three tips:
1. Focus on the journalist, not the journal. With shrinking budgets, even many respected journals can no longer afford the kind of fact-checking that was once de rigeur. But over time you may identify individual writers who are more conscientious than others about checking their facts.
2. Use fact-checking resources. With a quick visit to sites like Snopes.com or FactCheck.org, you can confirm or debunk much of what you encounter in digital media. Both sites do a good job of sticking to facts and avoiding ideological biases.
3. Learn to spot logical fallacies. We are all prey to logical fallacies, that is, reasoning that appears to make sense but under scrutiny does not. A working knowledge of them can provide a shortcut to not being taken in. Purdue University’s Online Writing Lab offers a great introduction to logical fallacies.
Please share these tips liberally. Together, we might just reduce the amount of nonsense in circulation. And maybe even prevent a bit of harm.
Thoughts looking forward to the
2014 Financial Brand Forum
In my current article for The Financial Brand (you should read it—click here), I touched on a disease I call sloganitis—a condition in which the afflicted comes up with a slogan and mistakes it for a brand. I thought I’d talk a little more about that here.
A marketing columnist who shall remain nameless avers that the first step to a great campaign is to cook up a catchy slogan.
No. The first step is to have a product or service that people want. I won’t venture to prioritize the myriad steps that follow, other than to say that a slogan, if you bother with one at all, should be among the last.
Nor can you necessarily trust yourself to know a “great” slogan from a lame one when it concerns your own financial institution. You’re biased. It’s much easier to recognize when somebody else has a lame slogan.
To give you that opportunity, below is a sample* of financial institution slogans from over 850 listed on thefinancialbrand.com. (No disrespect to The Financial Brand. They rock. It’s the slogans I’m talking about.) You can bet that when each line was presented, a CEO said, “Yeah, I like that. That truly captures who we are.” In many cases, someone probably managed to get a focus group or two to say nice things about the slogan, too.
Yet I challenge you to find one that says anything believable, that any other bank couldn’t claim, and, above all, that is likely to make the market respond, “Wow! That’s the bank for me.” (If you prefer, check out The Financial Brand’s entire list, but don’t expect to find much better.)
Apologies in advance if your slogan happens to appear below. Though, if by listing it I have given you food for thought, perhaps instead I should say, “You’re welcome.”
Meanwhile, be reassured that there are people out there who truly respond positively to every slogan on the list. Never mind that they happen to be each bank’s respective board of directors and their spouses.
Random sampling of bank slogans:
We Built This Bank For You
We keep our promises to you
We’ll take you farther
Your next experience in trust
Good Banking Is Good Citizenship
Where the world comes to bank Local Since 1872 Strength
It’s all about YOU!
Your future. Our priority.
A New Way of Banking Smart banking made easy.
Happy Un-banking Grow with us.
America’s Neighborhood Bank
Our Financial Strength Is In Our Service!
We All Profit
*I started with the third slogan and then took every fiftieth one from there.
… and not one of the 26
Senior Direct Marketing News writer Al Urbanski reports interesting findings from a recent LoyaltyOne and Northwestern University study. It seems that, on average, smartphone and tablet users sport some 26 to 29 apps, respectively. (That’s all? They should see my phone and tablet.) Yet the average user accesses only about six of those apps on a daily basis. Of those, most are games or music, or utilitarian apps like maps and weather. Branded apps? Not so much.
That’s good and bad news for banks.
On the good news side, your bank’s app is—or should be—the ultimate utilitarian resource. You can’t get much more utilitarian than checking balances, making payments, and transferring.
On the bad news side, filling only a utilitarian role is antithesis of fostering a relationship business with your clients. And, there’s the ever-looming threat of being out-utilitarianed* by a competitor.
But the best sort of bad news is the kind that brings with it strategic takeaways. In this, the above-cited negative items do not disappoint.
On the relationship side, the takeaway is don’t settle for filling only a utilitarian role. Build personality into your app. Make it reflect who you are and what you stand for.** Make interacting with real people via chat and voice not just easy but inviting. While you’re at it, make darned sure that said real people are informed, capable, empowered, and likable.
As for being out-utilitarianed, you best defense is to lead. Make your app so intuitive that a half-asleep customer couldn’t avoid successfully using it. Make it so fast that there’s minimal finger-drumming time while waiting for a feature to load. Make it save your clients money, perhaps by eliminating or reducing fees incurred with live transactions. Fill it with features that clients want, including a few that fall outside bank services. For instance, now that you know users check weather apps daily, why not build in an easy-to-access local weather report?
In short, have a brand, and let it show by making your app a great experience. The kind no customer would want to give up by going to a competitor. You can do all that, even through an app. If you can’t readily see how, you may have a brand problem to solve before worrying about solving your app problem.
High tech and high touch are normally presented as opposites. They needn’t be.
*Herewith I declare utilitarian a verb, with utilitarianed serving as its past and pluperfect.
**This begs the larger questions, Who are you and what do you stand for? How do these values set you apart from being just another bank? Do other banks make the same, tired claims? That’s another post, though I touched on the subject here.)