How important are marketing promises? Ask the customer you lost.



Whether you’re a fast-food restaurant, an online retailer, a local financial institution, or any kind of business in between, this is something you should give serious thought: always under promise and over deliver. By that, I mean that if you’re out in the marketplace promising to deliver on a product or service, it’s really, really important that you make good on that promise. Do I sound, perhaps, a bit frustrated by an experience I may have had recently? If you guessed “yes,” you’d be correct. And it was with my local bank.

As you know, I’m a marketing guy, so for me, everything harkens back to marketing. So, when I had a rather disappointing experience with my community bank, the first thing that came to mind was marketing. Here’s what happened…

It began with the excitement I felt when I saw — through the bank’s marketing, mind you — that this particular institution was offering CDs at pretty good rates. (P.S.: Another “kicker” here is that the CD rates at other banks were even more attractive, but two things compelled me to choose my community bank. 1) I already have an account at this bank and 2) I am a firm believer in supporting local businesses, including my local bank.

So, for the above-stated reason number one, I figured that opening a CD account would be quick and easy… as advertised, by the way.  As you probably imagine, it wasn’t.

Now, in addition to being a marketing guy and business owner, I consider myself a patient man… for the most part. Well, if there were ever a test of patience, this was it. Since I’d like to keep this blog to less than 2,000 words, I won’t go into much detail on what these forms required, although I’m happy to provide here a short list of those I was required to fill out. Mind you, some of these forms are multiple forms:

  • Privacy Notice
  • E-statement
  • All About Your Deposit Account
  • New Account Application
  • Corporate Resolution
  • Beneficial Ownership
  • Certificate of Deposit

To complicate things even more and frustrate me even further, some of these forms required a “wet signature, which I had no knowledge of until I googled it: “A wet signature requires some type of pen, usually filled with black ink, or a stamp with your initials, signature, or other approved seal. To create a wet ink signature simply sign a printed or photocopied document in cursive, initial, or stamp the document in the designated spaces.”

Okay, so now… not only was I not getting this accomplished via the ease of an online application (with, granted, way too many forms), but now I was expected to, I gather, go into a retail branch and sign these forms with “some type of pen, usually filled with black ink.” And I certainly don’t have any “stamp with my initials” laying around the house; after all, I’m not a member of the Royal Family.

Now, am I casting aside my local bank forever over this? No, I’m not just a patient man, but I’m a loyal one, too. Am I going to go elsewhere and open a CD?  No. The process might be much quicker and easier at another bank. I don’t know for sure and I’m not really interested in finding out. I do know this: if banks want to market and sell products, they really need to find a way to make it easy for individuals to purchase and use them. At the very least, in a digital age where we can order a car from the comfort of our couch, and have it delivered to our home in just a matter of days, we should be able to open a CD account without driving to a bank branch and “wet signing” a pile of documents. At the very least, make it easy for people like me who — and I can hardly believe I’m saying this, but — want to give you my money!

Back to the marketing piece of this. Until that day comes, when opening a CD account is quick and painless, for instance, I think that banks need to make sure that they can deliver on their marketing. I.e., under promise and over deliver. In my long career in marketing, I’ve seen this happen too many times. There are few things more damaging to a brand, from a marketing perspective, than promising a service that you can’t deliver. 

I would like to end this on a happy note. If you want a good laugh reading about companies that over promised and under delivered, check this out cheapism.comI’m sure you’ll see some familiar names… not because of their success, obviously!

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.