Archive for the ‘bank branding’ Category

One of the biggest purposes of word of mouth marketing for your bank or credit union is to create a higher level of brand engagement. Simply put, WOM helps give people a reason to care about your company.

That’s why we were excited when the cool folks at the Credit Union Times called our friends at CBC for their thoughts on the important topic of brand engagement. They also then called our partners at Market Insights, and the resulting article, Engagement: One Size Doesn’t Fit All, is chock full of excellent insights from CBC and PSST!’s Jeff Stephens and Market Insights’ Brady Walen.

We think you’ll like the article. Check it out: Engagement: One Size Doesn’t Fit All

Don’t Forget CBC’s Brand Engagement Webinar on March 30, 2011

Also, since you’re into brand engagement, don’t forget to register for the upcoming webinar by our pals at CBC, Brand Engagement: The Holy Grail for Banks and Credit Unions.


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We often discuss with our colleagues from CBC, that when we look back at our highlight reel over the last several years, great partners are often in those awesome replays with us. Having great partnersips allow us to expand our capabilities, introduce ourselves to clients we might not have otherwise met, and do amazing work.

CBC and PSST! Are looking for great partners that we can create some buzz with—together.

Establishing partnerships brings up a few very important questions:

  • How does it work?
  • Are we a good fit to partner?
  • What makes for a good partnership?
  • How do we get started?

To answer these important questions, we’ve developed our Guide to Partnering With Creative Brand Communications (also applicable to PSST!), available for download on the CBC website.

If your company provides complementary services to PSST! or CBC and feel we would make good partners and create a mutually beneficial, synergistic relationship, let’s talk.

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ManifestoCover-MediumOur teammates at CBC have announced the publication of their newest position paper, The Decommoditization Manifesto: Part 1. This downloadable position paper is the first in a series discussing how entrepreneurial banks and credit unions can break free from the chains of being a commodity in a commoditized industry. As the series is released, the key relationship between word of mouth marketing and decommoditization will unfold.

If you’re interested in how your bank or credit union’s overall competitive business strategy relates to word of mouth marketing, you will enjoy this series of position papers. CBC has provided the following brief excerpt from the introduction:

Tired of Being Powerless Yet?
It’s not easy to be a leader at a bank or credit union these days. Your board, your management and your colleagues demand results, results, results (read: growth), and you’re on the hook to deliver. That’s a lot of pressure.

The worst part is that you very clearly have little-to-no control over your growth. It feels like your only way to grow is win the pricing war on both sides of the balance sheet, but you know that’s not a sustainable strategy. You’re courting consumers like mad, but you have almost no ability whatsoever to influence them. In short, you have no control over your own destiny—you’re completely at the mercy of the consumer, who has all the power. Bummer.

Take a moment to step back ask yourself why that’s the case. Why does the consumer seem to have all the power in that relationship?!

To find out, download The Decommoditization Manifesto: Part 1 now.

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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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Allowing and responding to negative comments and criticism are an essential component of word of mouth marketing. But all too often, we hear stories of banks and credit unions restricting freedom of speech out of fear. This comes in many forms: not allowing comments on their Facebook pages, deleting negative messages on forums, threatening critics with legal action, etc. The result is that very real issues don’t get addressed, and sometimes the company never becomes aware that certain problems even exist. We’ve profiled a few banks and credit unions that foster open, two-way dialogue online and discussed why it is both positive and necessary. I recently found another example that everyone can learn from.

Last fall, gaspedal’s Word of Mouth Marketing Blog reported on Standard Bank’s response to a disgruntled customer. The customer had set up an unofficial anti-Standard Bank Twitter account, called @standard_bank, (the South African bank has their own official Twitter account, @StandardBankGrp). Standard responded with an entire blog post on the subject, discussing their side of the story and addressing why they had to resolve the disgruntled customer’s problems in private:

“Recently, a disgruntled customer has created an anti-Standard Bank twitter account (@standard_blank). In some cases, as in this instance, criticism stemmed from dissatisfaction with the way in which we handled an account. We take this seriously and have been in touch with this customer behind the scenes to try and resolve the issues raised. By trying to engage behind the scenes, we have come under fire for being ‘too quiet’, which is understandable, but we have no choice but to abide by our legal obligation to protect our customers’ confidentiality, which prevents us from having these types of conversation in the public domain.”

The Bank also stated their support for people expressing their criticisms online:

“As for the anti-Standard Bank activity, we believe that everyone has the right to share and express their views in any medium they choose and we will follow with interest.”

I think it’s important that Standard Bank said they would follow people’s opinions online. Many consumers who vent on forums and social media feel like their concerns aren’t being heard. Companies should pay attention to what’s being said about them and respond so people know their opinions are being considered.


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I know I’ve railed on Bank of America in the past, and they have deserved it. But I like their latest use of cause marketing because it supports young, local artists. When BofA took over LaSalle Bank in Chicago, it decided to put the building’s gigantic wall space – seen by about 400,000 people each day – to good use. The bank paired with the nonprofit After School Matters to launch a contest, called “Arts in Chicagoland”, in which area teens competed to have their design recreated on the wallscape. Covering the 8,600 square-feet of surface would be a creative challenge for anyone!

Not only does the contest showcase young artistic talent, it also gives those kids a foot in the door to work in creative fields. The creative director of BofA’s agency (BBDO) gave the students a creative brief to work from, much like they would get in a real job situation. The winner, a 16-year-old from the University of Chicago Lab School, has already been offered the chance to have her work exhibited in a gallery. Pretty impressive stuff for a high school student applying for colleges in the near future!

Regarding the mural, BofA’s VP of enterprise and channel marketing states, “…This is just such a great demonstration of starting with something amazing and creating a program that gives back to the community in an unbelievable way. It really takes our cause marketing activity to another level.” She has a point – if BofA owns the building, they could have painted a massive logo on it, let others advertise on it, or just left it blank. But instead they used it to show the art of a young local student, whose uplifting work will intrigue and inspire passerby each day. I hope they don’t let be a one-off thing. It would be great to see the artwork on the wall rotate every 6 months or so. The community would appreciate it, it would generate buzz about the artists, and positive PR for the bank.


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Today I came across a fairly lengthy article about financial institutions adopting social media marketing (SMM). It mentions a number of banks and their forays into Facebook, Twitter and blogging. I thought about some of the examples and came to the conclusion that financial companies really do want to effectively use networking sites, but don’t understand that the traditional, one-way b2c marketing model cannot be successfully be applied to social media. The whole point of social media is to foster open, two-way communication, so when I read quotes like, “The page isn’t open to comments from its fans… the bank worries about giving up the ability to control what appears on the page,” it tells me that the bank lacks a fundamental understanding of what sites like Facebook are all about. (On the other hand, the same bank at least recognizes that Facebook isn’t a place to push products – that’s a start.)

The article is a three page read, so I’ve pulled what I consider to be the most important points:

  • Social media initiatives should not be separate and isolated from the financial company’s other marketing efforts. They should not be considered an “extra” that’s handed off to the company’s youngest employee to manage. A report by Boston-based consulting firm states, “A senior marketing executive should lead the charge and should seek task force representatives from various parts of the organization… Social-media activities need to be blended into a bank’s day-to-day activities and customer relationships.”
  • Social media efforts need to have a strategy behind them. Setting up a Facebook page and then sitting and waiting for the magic to happen is not a strategy.
  • The point of social media is to facilitate conversation, so don’t hamper people’s ability to talk. Banks need to put their fears about negative feedback aside. Such concerns, says Ron Shelvin, are “overblown” and if the majority of your feedback is negative, then “you’ve got bigger problems to deal with”. In other words, get to the root of the issue, don’t just block people from discussing it.
  • Credit unions have been better at adopting social media and developing successful marketing plans that involve networking sites, due to their customer-centric approach, the fact that they are member-owned, and their higher risk tolerance. We wrote a similar post titled “Credit union marketers receptive to WOM” back in March.
  • Networking sites are not the place to push products – that’s why you have a website. Consumers appreciate getting advice and tips, reading topical posts and articles, having open discussions with the company, etc. The purpose of being involved in social media is to build relationships.

It’s encouraging to read that so many financial institutions are adopting social media, but the article also makes it clear that they have a ways to go before they fully understand its purpose and how to use it.


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