Why content is still bank marketing king

Content is king

What is content marketing? According to the Content Marketing Institute, one of many self-proclaimed authorities on the subject, “content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action. Instead of pitching products or services, a strategic content-driven approach provides relevant and useful content to your prospects and customers to help them solve issues in their work (B2B content) or personal lives (B2C content).”  What form does this content take? Blog posts, web pages, eBooks, infographics, and videos, to name a few. But remember… this is not content designed to sell.  It is content designed to educate and inform. Content that will build, and personalize, your brand.

Importantly, why is content marketing important … especially to community banks? Let’s start with the fact that community banks are somewhat uniquely qualified to make use of, and benefit from, content marketing. That’s because, at its heart, content marketing is storytelling. 

“Content marketing is valuable because it educates your leads and prospects about the products and services you offer, boosts conversions, builds relationships with customers that increase loyalty, shows your audience how you address their needs, and creates a sense of community around your brand.”

– HubSpot, The Ultimate Guide to Content Marketing in 2023.

And at THEIR heart, community banks are community pillars, institutions that often come with long histories of generational service and a commitment to helping their communities – whether through funding small business start-ups or helping the community get through a natural disaster. It pretty much goes without saying that local banks have close ties and partnerships with nonprofits, schools, volunteer groups, and other community service organizations.

It’s also not uncommon for loan officers, tellers, and other members of a local bank team to get to know customers and serve them for years–even decades. A small business loan becomes much more; it’s the backing that made a life-long dream–that turned into generations of economic growth for a local family–possible. Community bank employees are passionate about the work they do, often participating in, hosting, and sponsoring events and gatherings that bring people together. They are often our Little League coaches, Girl Scout leaders, volunteer fire department members and on Sunday mornings you might even find them in the choir at your place of worship. These are the people, and the stories, a marketer wants and needs … real stories about real people. They’re the stories that remind your audience that your brand is more than just a brand; it’s a community-focused group of great people who genuinely care about who they serve. 

When community involvement and personal relationships are so central to the identity of a business, content marketing is an absolutely ideal fit.

An even greater advantage in a GenAI world

ChatGPT is one of them, a platform that is paving the way for short-staffed marketing teams to crank out off-the-shelf content faster than you can say, “write me a 50 - word article on the benefits of a HELOC in a down economy.” But truly effective content, that is great storytelling, is not likely to come from a robot writer.  Great content marketing consists of content that is uniquely human, personal, and relatable.  Try getting that from an AI-assisted content developer.

I couldn’t agree more with this assessment from Social Assurance in Content Marketing Predictions for 2024.  “Especially in a world of ChatGPT and generative AI–your content has to connect in a more human way than ever before! In the coming year, expect to see brands using compelling, personalized storytelling. This includes narratives that highlight uniquely human stories behind the work that organizations do to impact their customers and communities.”

Publish your content across multiple channels

Finding the story is step one; then you have to tell it. Take, for example, a success story about how your bank was able to finance a small business owner in an unconventional way. Or, perhaps, for example, your branches are located in a college town with a large population of young graduates and first-time homebuyers. Consider a financial literacy series on the topic. These are great stories – and great candidates for content marketing – that can work in a number of different formats, including a blog, a video interview, a social post, and others.

However you capture the story, you’ll want it to live on your website in one form or another and then utilize other channels to drive people back to your website to experience it. For example, in the case of the business owner, you might interview that individual and use that interview to write a story for your website that you ultimately publish in the form of a blog. Then you’ll want to create some social posts – built on “teaser” content – about the story, ultimately linking back to the full story. You could then create some Facebook posts, along with more interactive video snippets for Instagram Reels. You might also put a blurb about the story in your monthly or quarterly customer newsletter, again driving existing and potential customers back to your website to read it. The net effect is that your story can now be consumed by a variety of individuals, each in their preferred media environment.

Remember throughout, as you’re planning content across multiple channels, that the focus is on the customer. These stories are not about your bank. They are, instead, about the people you’re serving and the impact you’re making. 

Why content marketing, in two sentences or less

Community banks are uniquely positioned to leverage content marketing – not only to tell real stories about how they’re serving real people, but to educate their audiences about finances, to reach younger and under-banked demographics, and to connect in a way that builds trust and furthers their genuine commitment to serving the community.

Bank Marketing Center

Here at bankmarketingcenter.com, our goal is to help you with that topical, compelling communication with customers — developed by banking industry marketing professionals — that will help you build trust, relationships, and revenue.  

Our web-based platform puts our client partners in complete control of their marketing production process – and for a fraction of traditional marketing costs. We’re also proud of the fact that we currently work with over 300 financial institutions.

Want to learn more about what we can do for your community bank and your marketing efforts?  You can start by visiting bankmarketingcenter.com. Then, feel free to contact me directly by phone at 678-528-6688 or via email at nreynolds@bankmarketingcenter.com.