If you’re in charge of running marketing for a community bank or credit union, you may feel overwhelmed by everything you think needs to get done to grow the business.
Thankfully, marketing a community bank is more focused - and more fun, in our opinion - than tackling the intricacies of growing a big, national bank. You get to make an actual connection with members of your community and help them manage their critical financial decisions.
Wondering how to promote a bank? It comes down to being thoughtful, creative, and honest in your messaging. Most importantly, you want to illustrate how your bank or credit union can solve a community member’s problems and make a difference along the way.
Here are 13 Community Bank Marketing Ideas
While we’re offering up 13 creative marketing ideas for your financial institution, don’t think that you need to implement all of these tips. Pick a few to focus on to see some success.
Setup Google my Business
We live in a digital world. If a prospective customer can’t find you on page one of Google, they’re not going to find you ever. The easiest way to make this happen is to start a Google My Business account, which ties your local bank to the town it operates in and offers essential information, like your address, phone number, and business hours. You can also include services you provide, like financial education.
With a Google My Business profile, people in your town searching for things like “community banks near me,” can easily spot your bank, read reviews, and ultimately reach out for more information.
The marketing strategy for mobile banking goes beyond a banking app that can help you deposit checks and monitor balances. Mobile banking means being able to access all of your bank's information easily on a mobile device.
Increase Website Content
Another way a prospective customer finds your website and becomes compelled to learn more about your bank is through content marketing - the publishing of blog posts, case studies, and more - to attract people toward your brand online.
Community banks can focus on big ideas like, “How to create a savings plan,” but you should also try to keep your content local.
Let’s say your community bank is located in our hometown of Traverse City, Michigan. Publishing a blog post, “How Much Home Can I Afford in Traverse City, Michigan?” could highlight your bank’s ability to leverage customer service and help you create a savings budget, in addition to your bank’s ability to write a mortgage.
Most importantly, make sure your content answers the most-asked questions of your customers and prospects.
Highlight Your Best Existing Customers
When prospects see real people from their town highlighted by the community bank, it piques interest in what the bank is all about. Maybe they helped a community member secure a mortgage after they fell on hard times. Or maybe your neighbors down the road used them to finance their new RV.
Highlighting customers is an easy marketing technique to underline the localness of your bank as more people choose small, local banks or credit unions over the big national brands. It's also a good excuse to do some research into your bank's best-fit customer.
These highlights are also great fodder for direct mail campaigns.
Keep Social Media Local
When you look at national bank social media accounts, the content can, well, start to feel a little stale. As a marketing leader for a community bank, use your social profiles to promote your bank and its services. Make sure to highlight community events, local history, the local school district’s sports teams - things that can drive engagement amongst local members.
Also, use your community bank’s social media profiles to highlight your employees. Employee highlights are a great engagement driver and show that your bank is great to not only do business with, but is also a great employer in the community.
It’s not easy, but sharing videos on your website and social media accounts - video of real people from your bank! - is a great engagement tool. Here are some recent stats:
- 78% of people watch videos online every week
- 54% of people want to see more videos in the coming year from brands and companies they trust
- Viewers retain 95% of a message when they watch it in a video.
Video can be time-consuming to create but very valuable. Here's a good first video project: Have someone from your bank explain a key financial service, like small business checking accounts. Then create a video, using that same format, for all other financial services.
Attend and Sponsor Community Events
Online marketing is obviously critical to growing your bank’s customer base, but face-to-face time is equally as important. Supporting community events is more than just networking for business - it’s about supporting your community! If your bank has a consistent presence across the community that’s friendly and recognizable, the business will come.
Invest in a Branded Canopy Tent & Custom Signage
If you’re going to be at events, you need a branded pop-up tent with your bank’s logo on it.
This is not about protecting your employees in the event of rain (although it certainly checks that box!). It’s about making your bank’s brand visible and professional-looking.
Depending on your needs, you can go with two options:
mightyTENT. When you want quality, but don’t need top-of-the-line, mightyTENT is a suitable option for a community bank looking to have a branded presence at community events.
In addition to your pop-up tent, you should invest in custom signage to further promote your brand at events. This can be done using custom tent walls or other event signage, like flags or table covers.
A good marketing campaign happens inside and outside the walls of bank branches. You need to put some feet on the ground to land a new customer who wants to open a savings account or checking account.
Brainstorm a Unique Rewards Program
One of the coolest rewards programs for a local bank we’ve read about was at Easthampton Savings Bank in Massachusetts. The bank promoted its new branch by turning its ATM into a slot machine. At random, the machine would spit out an extra $20 or $50 bill, encouraging customer after customer to line up at the machine and press their luck.
What can you do to attract people to your community bank and reward them for business? Maybe you pick a member at random each month and pay their mortgage. Whatever you decide, make sure you scream about the program from the rooftops to make it a success.
Invest in Community Projects
Again, the more opportunities to attach your bank’s name to important events and investments in the community, the better. Reach out to the local Rotary Club or some other volunteer organization and get an idea of what their upcoming projects look like. See how you can not only help financially, but also get your employees involved through volunteering.
Strike Strategic Partnerships
How great would it be to increase your customer count through referrals? You can accomplish that through strategic partnerships.
Start with top employers in the community and offer some kind of incentive for employees to open an account and set up direct deposits. Also, look to real estate agents who refer to your bank as the best place to secure a mortgage in the community.
Here's a marketing idea: Maybe your town has a farmer’s market that is primarily cash-only. Your bank could set up as the “official ATM provider” of the farmer’s market and waive withdrawal fees for a non-customer. While they’re withdrawing cash, a bank employee can hand out marketing material, chat about the benefits of joining the bank, and sign people up for accounts on the spot.
These partnerships shouldn’t cost you much money from your marketing budget. The best partnerships happen organically and are built around simple, positive relationships.
Make Your Lobby More Welcoming
Let’s be honest, going to the bank today is a chore. So, what can you do to make your bank’s lobby more inviting and less of a chore?
Friendly customer service is most important, but how about also having high-quality coffee and some treats available? Some banks like to put CNBC on a TV in the lobby to let patrons see how the markets are performing.
Whatever you do, focus on making your customer’s banking experience a convenience - not a chore.
Think of a Creative Giveaway to Attract New Customers
Pretty much every cell phone carrier today has a program that rewards customers for carriers. Community banks can do the same.
Come up with a lavish prize that encourages people in the community to drop their big, national bank and switch to their community bank. If the prize is really good, you could easily add hundreds of new accounts.
Make Banking Fun and Think Creatively
There you have it — a ton of fresh ideas for your credit union or bank marketing strategy!
TentCraft is here to help your that make your brand stand out with custom printed pop-up tents and structures, but the rest of these tips are up to you! Focus on a few initiatives and watch your bank’s business explode.