"How can my bank differentiate itself through our marketing and advertising in a market where the rates are changing and the competition seems to be getting tougher?"

James Robert Lay, host of the Banking on Digital Growth Podcast, delves into a pertinent question posed by listener, Josh, regarding how banks can stand out in a competitive market where interest rates constantly fluctuate. James Robert highlights the significance of differentiation through marketing and advertising in the banking sector. He draws on insights from the Digital Growth Institute's quarterly digital secret shopping studies, emphasizing the value of helping customers and producing compelling content to build trust.

The top 3 insights from this article:

  • Help First, Sell Second: By establishing a culture of helping customers navigate the complexities of money, banks and credit unions can build trust and connect on a deeper level.
  • Personalized Content for Guided Journeys: To rise above commoditized promotions, financial institutions should focus on creating personalized content that educates and guides customers along their financial journeys. 
  • Simplify and Streamline: To enhance the customer experience, financial brands must streamline website navigation by reducing choice and eliminating excessive options.

Creating a Culture of Help Through Content

James Robert advocates for a customer-centric approach that prioritizes assisting customers above selling products. By establishing a culture that revolves around the mantra "help first, sell second," financial brands can help navigate the complexity of money and guide customers towards a brighter financial future. And content becomes the fuel for this approach, allowing banks to rise above the standardized promotion of rates and services offered by competitors.

Traditional marketing strategies, such as generic direct campaigns, fall short in addressing individual customer needs. James Robert stresses the importance of personalized content that educates and guides customers, enabling financial institutions to build deeper connections. This shift in approach requires financial brands to produce content libraries that cater to customers' specific needs and align with their financial journeys.

Streamlining Navigation and Moving Beyond Rotating Banner Ads

Significantly enhance customer experience by reducing choice and simplifying website navigation. By streamlining the website and eliminating excessive choices, financial institutions can alleviate customer confusion, help them make informed decisions, and foster a sense of guidance rather than sales pressure.

Furthermore, its time to retire rotating banner ads, a legacy marketing tactic inherited from traditional broadcast strategies. There's a negative perception that these ads often evoke, with customers feeling inundated with promotional content. Instead, James Robert suggests replacing these ads with purpose statements that emotionally connect with visitors. By starting with a purpose-driven approach, financial brands can build trust and offer relevant content based on customers' specific needs.

Guided Selling: Navigating the Buying Journey

James Robert emphasizes the importance of guided selling in a digital context, as customers increasingly make buying decisions before setting foot in a branch or contacting a call center. By mapping out clear steps for customers throughout their buying journey, financial institutions can provide clarity, courage, and confidence. Simplifying the decision-making process fosters trust and empowers customers to take the next steps towards achieving their financial goals.

To differentiate themselves in an ever-evolving and competitive market, financial brands must embrace a customer-centric mindset. Help customers first and sell second through personalized content and a streamlined website experience. By building trust, providing guidance, and simplifying the decision-making process, financial institutions can rise above commoditized rates and services, ultimately forging stronger connections with their customers. The digital era presents immense opportunities for financial brands to transform their marketing strategies and nurture lasting customer relationships.

Take Action Today:

  • Embrace a Customer-Centric Culture: Foster a company-wide culture that prioritizes helping customers over selling products. Encourage employees to embody the "help first, sell second" mindset and ensure that customer assistance is at the core of every interaction.
  • Invest in Personalized Content Strategy: Develop a comprehensive content strategy that focuses on creating personalized, informative, and educational content. Identify customer pain points and align content with their specific needs and financial journeys. Build content libraries and resources that are readily available for customers when they need guidance.
  • Streamline Website Experience: Evaluate your bank or credit union's website and simplify the user experience. Reduce the number of options and calls-to-action on the homepage to provide clarity and alleviate customer confusion. Consider implementing a step-by-step approach to guide customers through their buying journey, ensuring they feel supported and empowered to make informed decisions.

By taking these action items, bank and credit union leaders can drive meaningful change within their organizations, aligning their strategies with customer needs, and creating a competitive edge in the digital landscape. By prioritizing customer assistance, personalization, and streamlined experiences, leaders can position their institutions as trusted partners in their customers' financial journeys.

For more about financial transformation, reach out to James Robert Lay at the Digital Growth Institute.