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Does Your Marketing Automation Tool Need an Education?

Let me take you back, briefly, to my early days in “the business,” that being the advertising/marketing industry. As I’m sure you know by now, I started my career as an art director at J. Walter Thompson in Chicago.  Not to date myself or anything, but “back then,” as it were, we didn’t use computers.  For some of you younger folk, this may conjure up images of me commuting to work on horseback, but it wasn’t quite that long ago. In fact, computers didn’t come onto the ad agency scene until sometime, if memory serves, in the mid 1990s. So, in actuality it wasn’t that long ago.

Before working on computers, we did everything by hand.  We would literally “cut” type and paste it onto what was called a “mechanical.” We resized images using a stat camera in a darkroom and when the mechanicals were completed, they were sent out to an engraver, who then photographed them and sent the film to the publication for printing.

My point is this: While computers made our jobs easier, and we could be five times more productive, they didn’t make us better art directors.  Computers couldn’t teach us color science, the proper use of fonts, the art of composition, and they certainly couldn’t teach us how to think conceptually when developing a campaign for a client. The computer was just another tool… not unlike the relationship between a painter and their brush.

Ok so much for the “brief” history. I mention this because I see new technologies and “tools” coming online every day. Marketing automation is the big deal now. The goal seems to be to do more with less by using AI and machine learning… in place of human beings.

There’s only one problem.  Software doesn’t think (although we seem to be getting closer and closer to this all the time.). I look out at the template-based design software out there and I think of my early days. A computer is nothing more than a tool. Software companies that are selling “marketing messaging made easy” through off-the-shelf templates are no different. Can a template-driven design program apply Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to a print ad or digital banner, resulting in a message that truly resonates with an audience?  Not that I know of; at least not yet anyway.

If you don’t recall our blog from around last November, when we talked about Maslow, we mentioned him because in order to create truly effective, compelling marketing messaging, one must think like a marketer.  And you can’t do that if you’re not totally in tune with Maslow’s thinking.

Again, I’ll be brief!? Maslow was a 20th Century psychologist who figured out that each person has five levels of needs. He called this his “hierarchy of needs.” To illustrate this, he built a triangle. At the bottom of the triangle was the need for basics such as food and clothing. In the middle were safety and friendship. At the top was self-actualization. Why is this important to marketers? When we are developing the marketing messaging around our products, we want to talk to that audience at the very highest level of the triangle, and that’s because the higher up you go in the triangle the more important, and emotional, that level of need becomes. Food and shelter needs, for instance, can be easily met while understanding who you are and why you're on this planet is not so easy.

Marketers use Maslow's triangle because it helps us keep in mind that when we're talking to our customers about products and services, such as IRAs, CDs, and various types of accounts, we can’t simply talk to them in terms of how these products meet a basic need. Instead, we need to put those products and services in the context of those much more compelling, “top of the triangle” needs such as peace of mind, security, an enhanced quality of life…. Establishing a Living Trust isn’t just a way to protect your money… It's a means to provide for loved ones.  A loan isn’t simply a means to make a purchase. It can mean freedom, comfort, enjoyment.  That’s what our marketing messaging must be designed to do.

Yes, a template-driven software application can make the creation of marketing products quick and easy. And they’re usually priced accordingly; fairly inexpensive. But, they have nothing to offer in terms of the marketing “thinking.” Which means that whatever money one might save by using them was not a savings at all but instead a waste.

As always, I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject.

About Bank Marketing Center

Here at BankMarketingCenter.com, our goal is to help you with that topical, compelling communication with customers; the messaging — developed by banking industry marketing professionals, well trained in the thinking behind effective marketing communication — that will help you build trust, relationships, and revenue. In short, build your brand. To view our campaigns, both print and digital, visit BankMarketingCenter.com. Or, you can contact me directly by phone at 678-528-6688 or email at nreynolds@bankmarketingcenter.com.

 

 

 

 

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Inclusive Marketing. Fact or Fashion?

It’s time for another installment of “What is Marketing, exactly?” That’s because we need to talk about a topic that has basically commandeered any marketing department’s discussion of strategy: And that’s Inclusive Marketing.

I’m sure you’ve been hearing and reading about it. In fact, it’s almost impossible to avoid the attempts at inclusive marketing that now permeate the broadcast airwaves. From dating apps to detergents, brands galore are jumping on the inclusivity bandwagon. So much so that I’ve begun asking myself… does it work? Am I really believing what I’m seeing? And then, of course, to write about it.

What exactly is inclusive marketing, anyway? Deloitte’s "Authentically Inclusive Marketing" describes it thusly: “On a given day, up to 10,000 discrete advertisements bombard consumers during their waking hours. Consumers—especially the youngest generations—are expecting more from these messages than just details about the latest seasonal sale. Rather, they are questioning whether a brand supports diversity and inclusion both publicly and behind the camera—and this focus is becoming increasingly important to brands, as well.” Some companies are even creating “departments,” if you will, who monitor their inclusion efforts. Scotiabank, for instance, is one. According to their global chief marketing officer, “we have someone whose actual job title is around managing the inclusion-by-design mandate.”

Now, if you’re NOT being inclusive in your marketing, you could be called “tone deaf”. Tone deaf marketing is… well, here’s a good example courtesy of the magazine Ad Age: KFC’s “finger-lickin’ good” campaign. For the most part, pretty innocuous, but not during the height of a deadly pandemic, right? In short, tone deaf marketing describes messaging that is insensitive to what’s going on in the world. And, right now, portraying your brand as sensitive to issues relating to social justice is, according to many anyway, imperative.

How critical? Again, Deloitte: “New U.S. Census data shows that in the past decade, the white population has declined for the first time in history, and people who identify as multiracial, Hispanic, and Asian are driving much of the population growth. A 2021 Gallup poll highlights that LGBTQ identity has risen from 3.5% in 2012 to 5.6% in 2020.” It’s pretty clear that here in the U.S., our consumer population is growing increasingly diverse, whether we’re talking race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or even physical differences in ability. With that growth is an ever-increasing expectation—on the part of these consumers—that brands respond accordingly.

KPMG’s article, “The Power of Inclusive Marketing and Why It Works” makes, what I see, as the essential point here: “Inclusive marketing isn’t a tick-box exercise. Images of white people can’t be just switched with those of ethnic minorities, coloring packaging to pink won’t attract more female buyers, and rainbow flags pinned to a glossy campaign message won’t make them inclusive. So, what actions should brands take?” Here’s my answer to that question based on my own personal, brand building experience at a couple of fairly well-known ad agencies.

One, know your audience. Do the research. Understand to whom you’re speaking. I remember very well the focus groups, the 50-page consumer research decks, the commercial concept testing… There are a lot of ways to create and maintain a brand that is inclusive, as opposed to tone deaf, and understanding your audience is a foundational step. I do think that, in some ways, “inclusivity” has almost become an approach to branding that is more fashion than fact. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a firm believer in marketing to your audience. which is, perhaps, why I sometimes—when viewing a commercial, for instance—question the necessity of an inclusivity subtext. It all goes back to research and “the numbers.” It’s almost as if some marketers have forsaken the principle of targeted messaging in order to accommodate the “trend appeal,” if you will, of inclusivity. Don’t get lured into appealing to everyone—all ages, all races, all genders, for instance—just so that you can be viewed as inclusive… unless your audience truly is everyone. Is it? I doubt it.

Two, staff accordingly. Sure, the women in the shop could have been assigned to the motor oil account and the men assigned to women’s apparel, but that was never the case. When you see tone deaf advertising, it can very likely be traced back to the folks who created it not “being in touch.” Could you effectively convince a stranger, or even a friend, to purchase a product that you yourself never used? Probably not. At least, I wouldn’t put money on it.

Three, be authentic. This is critical and, of course, the most challenging. And that’s because in the end, (and we would see this when concept testing a commercial before it aired) people know when you’re not being authentic. Consumers can sense the difference between something you truly believe in and something that is merely an attempt at lip service.

So, as more and more consumers are looking to align where they spend their money with the brands that fit their values, remember to put an inclusive lens on your marketing. And don’t just leave it at your messaging. Make sure that your “product,” your in-branch and online banking experiences, align and reinforce what your messaging proclaims. Because in order to be genuine and successful with inclusive marketing, it’s not merely what you’re saying: It’s who you are.

About Bank Marketing Center

Here at BankMarketingCenter.com, our goal is to help you with that vital, topical, and compelling communication with customers; messaging that will help you build trust, relationships, and revenue. In short, build your brand. To view our campaigns, both print and digital, visit BankMarketingCenter.com. Or, you can contact me directly by phone at 678-528-6688 or email at nreynolds@bankmarketingcenter.com. As always, I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject.

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Your Mail? Don’t Worry, It’s On Its Way.

I’m sure you’ve had this experience, as well.  It’s 9 o’clock in the morning on a Tuesday when I discover that there’s an item on Amazon that I simply must have…today.  I place my order. That afternoon, I have it in hand.  Brought right to my door… I didn’t even need to walk to my mailbox (which I don’t usually mind, since it’s one of the few forms of exercise I have time for these days!?) in order to get it.

Which makes for a good segue.  Speaking of mailboxes, why is it that Amazon can deliver a package the same day and it takes the US Postal Service up to eight weeks to take an envelope from Baton Rouge to Atlanta?  This is not hyperbole. Just a week or so ago, I received several letters, all from within a couple hundred miles of me, that had been mailed in the last two weeks of April.

According to a recent Fortune.com article: “Current standards call for delivering First Class mail in one to three days. Under revised standards, delivery time would stretch to as much as five days, according to the Postal Service plan. It also said it would “align hours of operation” at low-traffic post offices. Under the plan, the Postal Service would add a day or more to its standards for First Class mail delivery, increase rates, and reduce post office hours to ward off as much as $160 billion in deficits over the next decade.” There’s no doubt that the Postal Service is struggling to deal with sagging letter volume and dropping revenue. But wouldn’t fewer letters mean faster delivery?  I guess not, and it sounds like for now anyway, we should not look forward to any improvements in delivery times.

I bring this up because I continue to see companies -- many of them financial institutions -- that are still using direct mail to get their marketing messages out there. I may not know if DeJoy’s plan can save the postal service, but I do know this:  The key to marketing effectively is “the five rights”:  get the right message to the right person at the right time in the right place in the right way. That’s a lot of “rights,” I know, but in order to be effective, this is what it takes. In today’s economy, with supply chains and scarcity of materials slowing the production of all sorts of products, does it make a lot of sense to market those products with direct mail?  Recently I received a mailer that got me interested in the product; that’s the good news. The bad news? When I went to purchase it, it was already out of stock and backordered for an indefinite period of time. Why market products you can’t sell?  Lately, when I get a direct mail piece from a bank that touts, say, an interest rate, I can’t help but think that that rate has gone up a quarter point while that postcard was in the mail!  The upshot?  Follow the five rights and make use of media that can offer you the speed and efficiency that effective messaging requires: email campaigns and social media, for instance.  If you have any questions, or would like to learn more about digital marketing, social in particular, we’re here to help. Another potential benefit of not using the mail? Say you’re still printing and mailing statements to customers.  You may want to encourage them to go paperless; one, because their statement is weeks old by the time they get it and two, you can save a lot of money by going paperless.

Believe me, I love getting letters in the mail. Who doesn’t? As an ad guy, I have always loved direct mail. It can be a powerful marketing communication tool and I think, should always be part of your marketing mix. However, I would steer clear in the short term. Unless you can get that Christmas Club promotion postcard in the mail next week.

What do you think?  As always, I welcome your thoughts!

About Bank Marketing Center

Here at BankMarketingCenter.com, our goal is to help you with that vital, relevant, and compelling communication that will help you build trust, relationships, and with them, your brand. All while saving you time and money.

To view our marketing creative, both print and digital – ranging from product and brand ads to in-branch brochures and signage – visit bankmarketingcenter.com. Or you can contact me directly by phone at 678-528-6688 or email at nreynolds@bankmarketingcenter.com. As always, I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject.

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Introducing Martech Without the Migraine.

 

Just in case you stepped away from your computer for a few minutes, marketing technology or martech, describes the software and technology used to attract and retain customers. There’s been a lot of talk about it, and rightfully so. According to HubSpot’s recent article, “What Marketing Leaders are Investing in This Year”, 60% of marketers indicated that they are set to increase their marketing technology spending in the next 12 months. The reason, of course, is that investments in marketing technology are the solution du jour when it comes to a financial institution’s ability to, as HubSpot puts it, “retain and delight their audiences and react at speed when necessary. And the options are vast. As of 2020, there are 8,000 different martech tools to choose from, ranging from data analytics platforms to CRMs, to internal team collaboration tools.”

Now, the need for better data analytics, automated processes, and collaboration tools has been around for quite some time.  With the changes we’re seeing from COVID-19, and the trend toward virtual officing, that need has increased significantly. The processes, and the personnel, that facilitated the concepting and execution of marketing messaging no longer live under one roof.  With stakeholders scattered -- the usual players such as product development, sales, brand, and creative -- it’s just no longer possible to simply get together in a conference room and “hammer things out.”

What’s the solution?  Marketing technology. Well, unfortunately, it’s not quite as simple as that.  As  Laurie Busby pointed out in her Financial Brand article, “Marketing Automation Doesn’t Have to End in Costly Failure, marketing automation can, unfortunately, end in costly failure. “Some financial institutions are so eager to enter the martech world that they let themselves be sold deluxe software packages and empty promises. Many such teams sign on with tech-giant platforms that charge monstrous upfront costs and require exhaustive training. Months later — sometimes longer — these institutions still won’t have the software up and running. Without the right support, these once enthusiastic folks find themselves stuck wading through massive “bloatware” platforms. No one on their teams has the bandwidth to train new users on properly, let alone manage. Worst of all, they find themselves no closer to their goals and can’t demonstrate any ROI to their key stakeholders.”

First Interstate, a community bank headquartered in Billings, Montana with more than 150 offices across Idaho, Montana, Oregon, South Dakota, Washington, and Wyoming, solved this challenge with a private label portal from BankMarketingCenter.com.

“As a large community regional bank with a diversified suite of financial products and services, we knew that we needed a way to get branded, compliant, approved messaging out into the marketplace in an efficient, cost-effective manner. That led us to BankMarketingCenter.com and the development of a private label portal.”

- Sara Becker, SVP, Director, Marketing & Communications

First Interstate’s portal is a custom designed, automated system that organizes assets, streamlines the review process, tracks projects at every stage of development, archives the entire project process from start to finish, offers high quality templates along with thousands of images, and ensures both information accuracy and brand standards compliance. 

“Anything going through our agency was expensive and had a long turnaround time; sometimes as long as two weeks. And, we could never be sure that the information in those materials was current and compliant. When we access materials in the portal, we know that the information in those templates is current and that it meets compliance demands.”

-  Rhianna H. Tretin, Marketing & PR Specialist

BankMarketingCenter.com allows First Interstate Bank to get their marketing message out quickly, efficiently, and always on brand. Through the portal, the bank’s 1,200 users can access approved, branded materials and customize them in seconds to target their local markets and then have them downloaded or electronically delivered to the approved vendor. The software also builds in controls from a budget and compliance standpoint since there are levels of access and approval for different users. Once a marketing product is ordered, the technology automatically routes the request through marketing/compliance for approval. Once approved, the product is sent directly to the bank’s approved printer or media outlet. 

By working with BankMarketingCenter.com, First Interstate Bank can maintain control of their brand image and empower team members at the local level with high quality, professionally created ads and marketing materials they can customize. The portal has helped the bank save thousands of dollars in marketing costs, facilitate compliance, and respond more quickly to demands for marketing materials. And the bank anticipates that this trend will continue as it expands its use of their customized private label portal.

Busby concludes with this thought: “That is why when choosing a platform and package, you must not only consider your marketing needs, but also ensure that meeting them with martech falls within the scope of your department’s capabilities. Throughout the selection process, remember your end goal: You are aiming for better, personalized communication and smarter use of your team’s capabilities. The right software is out there — you just may need to poke around before you find it.”

We couldn’t agree more.

About Bank Marketing Center

Here at BankMarketingCenter.com, our goal is to help you with that vital, relevant, and compelling communication that will help you build trust, relationships, and with them, your brand. All while saving you time and money.

To view our marketing creative, both print and digital – ranging from product and brand ads to in-branch brochures and signage – visit bankmarketingcenter.com. Or, you can contact me directly by phone at 678-528-6688 or email at nreynolds@bankmarketingcenter.com. As always, I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject.

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Trying to market in a pandemic? See what the experts say.

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 when times started to get tough, we were the first to lose our jobs… 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 Brand both informative and, well, a bit encouraging; despite that fact that the challenge he addresses is that of “pinched budgets plus tougher competition.”

Why 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.”

And 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 of those additional issues. “Multiple touchpoints 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 banking 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 – that range from social media messaging, online banners 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 are able to 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 just have to get better at it.

About Bank Marketing Center

Here at BankMarketingCenter.com, our goal is to help you with that vital, topical, and compelling communication with customers; messaging that will help you build trust, relationships, and with them, your brand. Messaging that you can customize to meet your needs in just minutes.

To view our marketing creative, both print and digital – ranging from product and brand ads to in-branch brochures and signage –  visit bankmarketingcenter.com.  Or, you can contact me directly by phone at 678-528-6688 or email at nreynolds@bankmarketingcenter.com.  As always, I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject.