Archive for May, 2010

We’re pleased to share with you the brand new website for our teammates at Creative Brand Communications: www.creative-brand.com

CBC’s site is built to accomplish two main goals:

1) Distributing unique educational content about experiential brand development and multi-sensory marketing for entrepreneurial banks and credit unions. 

2) Giving prospective clients a good sense for what it’s like to work with CBC.

We hope you’ll take a moment to look around the site. CBC will be continuously adding unique new content to the site’s Expertise section, such as new case studies, position papers, presentations and webinars, ExpEditions e-newsletter…and of course blog posts on The Story.


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If you have never read Andy Sernovitz’s book, aptly called Word of Mouth Marketing, I would highly recommend you do. He does a great job of explaining many of the primary principles of word of mouth marketing, and creating an understandable framework you can create word of mouth programs around. Andy’s writing was very influential to our thinking as well.

Much of Andy’s recommended strategy is based around “The 5 T’s” of word of mouth: Talkers, Topics, Tools, Taking Part and Tracking. Today’s post is the first in a five-part series, taking a closer look at each of the 5 T’s in the context of banking word of mouth marketing. We’ll explain the concept of each T, and share with you our own experiences and insights into each one.

Talkers: The First T
The first place to start when crafting a word of mouth marketing strategy or campaign for your bank or credit union is, “who is likely to talk about us?” In my own words, “who is likely to blab to their friends about us, if we give them something worthy enough?”

Talkers vs. Targets
Keep in mind, Talkers and “target” (not one of the five T’s but a frequently used term in marketing strategies) are not the same in most cases. Your target is who you eventually want to reach, but the Talker is the conduit to that target. In other words, the question is “who can I get to spread the message to my target?” That’s your Talker. For instance, a famous example is that of a company who wanted to target people who live in Manhattan. Who talks to people who live in Manhattan? Cab drivers, of course–they were the Talker group. At your financial institution, your Talkers will vary by campaign. For instance, if your campaign is about selling mortgages, your Talkers may be real estate agents, or people who work at title companies.

What Do the Talkers Care About?
The next question is to ask yourself, “what do the Talkers care about?” What matters to them? Understanding this, from their perspective, will be critical if we want to effectively create any Topics (the second T) that they will truly find interesting enough to tell others. To go back to our example of selling mortgages and using real estate agents as Talkers, what do real estate agents care about? Here are just a few answers: looking good in front of their clients, not getting stuck hosting open houses on Sunday afternoon, keeping their cars clean when they tour clients around, getting their work clothes dry cleaned, etc. There are hundreds of answers–make a list and start putting yourself in their shoes.

Next Post: Topics
In the second post in this five-part series, we’ll learn about Topics and how they relate to Talkers, especially at your bank or credit union.

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I wanted to share an idea with you I had about a year ago. We at PSST! have not yet had the opportunity to do this with one of our clients, so maybe you can steal it and make it work for you. If you do, be sure to let us know how it goes!

I am sharing this example because it illustrates an incredibly important point about word of mouth marketing for banks and credit unions: if you are able to think creatively, generating buzz doesn’t have to expensive or hard. You just have to be inventive. Here’s my example: Let’s say you are going to run an auto loan promotion at 3.49%…about 0.5% better than your normal rate.

Scenario 1: The Traditional Approach
Your typical plan would be to develop some ads, newsletter articles, web graphics and statement stuffers to let your members and prospective members know. You’d get a few takers (more than normal) who would come into your branch, apply for the loan during the specifial offer, get the promotional rate as promised, and leave feeling satisfied because they got what they expected. Not a bad scenario at all.

Scenario 2: The Buzzworthy Approach
Instead, though, let’s say you tried a slightly different tact: you decided not to advertise the special rate at all–not even with in-branch signage. In other words, it was business as usual. You’d have your normal number of applicants come in, apply for the loan at the standard rates, get approved and leave feeling satisfied that they got what they were expecting.

But here’s the twist: the next day, after the customer/member has their new loan, you call them and say “Hey there, I wanted to let you know that I was reviewing your loan file, and I noticed that we can actually give you a better rate, 3.49%, which is 0.5% better than the rate you got. That will save you $400 over the life of the loan. If you’d be willing to swing by the branch tomorrow for 15 minutes, we can change your paperwork really fast and get you the better rate. Would you like to do that?”

Look at Scenario 1: what is the customer/member likely to say at the end of their transaction? Absolutely nothing. We fulfilled their request exactly as they expected, without anything particularly positive or negative. There’s nothing to talk about–nothing to tell their friends. Think about it: you’d never tell your friend, over a beer, “hey, dude, guess what? I ordered a turkey sandwich at Subway today, and they gave me a turkey sandwich.” That’s no story. A transaction that meets expectations is invisible–it doesn’t prompt any conversation.

By contrast, what would the customer/member be likely to say after Scenario 2? How about “holy !@#$ I can’t believe my bank/credit union called me up AFTER the loan closed, to save me more money. They didn’t have to do that, I was already satisfied with my loan. That’s *^%$#ing amazing!” The customer/member would be HIGHLY likely to tell their friends and family, because they’d be so darn flabergasted that they experienced something so uncommon….therefore resulting in more applicants hoping to get the same surprise bonus as their referring friend.

See the Difference?
In Scenario 1, you would have gotten more customers/members to apply in the first place, but none of them would have told any friends (unless the rate you offered was ridiculously low, in which case you’re simply buying the market). Plus, you would have had to pay for all that marketing cost. In Scenario 2, your initial number of applicants would have been smaller (your normal volume of applications), but the buzz from those customers/members would have been huge and would have spread exponentially, resulting in a) more applicants, b) positive buzz about your bank/credit union, and c) savings on the initial marketing expense.


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