To be successful in bank marketing, you need triangles.

Triangles are the building blocks on which solid marketing is founded. Why are triangles important to bank marketers?  First, triangles help marketers develop the emotion-based messaging that resonates most with consumers. Then, triangles help bank marketers determine at what point in the buyer journey it makes the most sense to get that message out into the marketplace.

Triangle #1. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

Who was Maslow?  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?

Laddering up the Needs.

Marketers in every industry use Maslow's triangle because it helps us remember that when we're talking to potential customers about products and services, we have to talk to them not about how our product meets a basic need, but how it meets a need that's very important to them; an emotional need. What are some of those needs when we’re talking about banking products and potential banking customers?  You could say that a checking account meets the need of having to pay bills from a distance.  Or, that a savings account is a way to put money where you won’t be tempted to spend it. Instead, we want to talk about how these products meet those “higher” needs, such as comfort, security, and peace of mind. This is also what marketers call taking a “user focused” approach to messaging, instead of a “product focused” approach.  In other words, you’re focusing on how your product meets a consumer’s emotional need, as opposed to how it works and what it does.

Triangle #2. Meeting the prospect where they are

Now we take you on a little journey…the buyer journey. The buyer journey is basically the path that a consumer, (who we have now identified through research and persona mapping), takes when making a purchase and importantly the mindset that accompanies each step they take on that path.  It’s often expressed visually as an upside-down triangle (often referred to as the “marketing funnel”) and as a three-step journey:  Awareness is at the top, Consideration in the middle, and Decision/Consideration at the bottom.

If the consumer is at the start of that journey and knows nothing about your products, they’re at the top of the funnel.  Here’s where you give the consumer more information than they need… blog posts, social media, direct mail, for example, are good for the Awareness stage.  These are thought leadership pieces, focusing on industry trends and needs and, in general, how your products/services meet those needs. An article on why now is a good time to buy a CD, for instance, or an article on the importance of money management. Post them on your website and use social posts to guide readers to them. Selling product is not the goal here; that comes further down the funnel. Showing potential customers that you know the industry… that is your top-of-the-funnel goal.

As our consumer moves down into the Consideration stage, (mid-funnel) our messaging gets more product focused, with emails, case studies, and newsletters. When our prospect reaches the bottom of the funnel, (now at its narrowest point) we’re ready to start talking product details and benefits with highly targeted tactics, such as webinars, product demos, and product brochures.

Using triangles, right-side up and upside-down, can guide you in developing your marketing messaging. Not just messaging that may, perhaps, fall on deaf ears, but strategic, emotional messaging that will resonate with your target reader at just the right moment, move that reader to act and, with that, grow your share of wallet.

About Bank Marketing Center 

Here at, 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 marketing creative, both print and digital – ranging from product and brand ads to social media and in branch signage – visit  You can also contact me directly by phone at 678-528-6688 or via email at  As always, I welcome your thoughts on the subject.