Trends in Bank Marketing Spend

As banks look at their advertising marketing spending, they are impacted by a number of different forces. On one hand, they are under pressure to reduce expenses in the absence of strong revenue growth. On the other, there are some signs of economic recovery (although dangers remain), as well as growing consumer and business confidence. If this confidence translates into growing demand for financial services, banks will want to be in a position to benefit from this market growth, and so will seek to grow their marketing investment. Another key issue for banks is how they direct their advertising/marketing spending, given the ongoing demise of traditional marketing categories, such as print, and the emergence of new media.

With these issues in mind, EMI Strategic Marketing studied marketing spend levels for 13 leading banks for the first 9 months of 2012, relative to the same period in 2011.  Ours analysis reveals that:

  • Overall marketing spend fell 5% y/y.
  • 5 banks reduced spending, but, significantly, these included 4 of the top 6 banks.
    • The largest percentage declines were reported by Chase and Bank of America, who both decreased spending 17%.
    • Chase had the largest dollar decline, reducing spend by $400 million. However, it is notable that Chase’s 2012 decline follows a 77% rise in marketing spend between 2009 and 2011.
  • Among the 8 banks increasing spending are:
    • Regional banks PNC, Regions and KeyBank, who grew marketing spend by double-digit rates.
    • Capital One, which has traditionally been a heavy advertiser, but dramatically scaled back its spending significantly in the wake of the financial crisis.  Since then, it has gradually returned its advertising spend to pre-financial crisis levels.

“Sincerely, Vice President”: Why Marketing for Sales Is Vital

Since EMI’s founding over 20 years ago, a core focus has been what we call “marketing for sales.”  One of the key propositions of this focus is to bring marketing principles, strategy, and messaging to the point of sale. And it’s obvious that many companies struggle with this, as we often encounter samples of sales campaigns that demonstrate a lack of marketing expertise.  One such example is below.

The goal of this email is to get the target audience to attend these sessions, and certainly there are elements in the email – the prominence given to the information table to attract the eye, the “Last Chance” message at the top of the email – that head in the right direction. However, the ability of email to achieve its objectives as effectively as possible is undermined by execution that fails to adhere to basic principles of email marketing:

  • Having a single, prominent call-to-action. In fact, the only call-to-action in the message is to respond to the email and write a message stating which session is preferable.
  • Facilitating response by offering multiple response channels and making it easy to take the desired action. There is no opportunity to click on a link to respond, no number to call to register, no button taking you to a form on which you could register. Any or all of these additions would have increased response by making it easier and more straightforward.
  • Offering a compelling and prominent headline that draws the recipient in. What is the headline of the email? Is it the small message at the top saying this is the last chance to register? If so, only the more patient readers would find that sentence because it is overwhelmed by the logo immediately below it.

Based on the content and the fact that typically this company is a very effective email marketer, it seems likely that the email was sent not as a marketing campaign, but rather by the sales team. This ineffective email is precisely why “marketing for sales” is so important and represents such a powerful opportunity for many companies.  Imagine how many more prospects would have registered and attended these events if the email had offered large buttons for each event which, when clicked, would have registered the clicker and taken them to a confirmation page that offered them a “save to Outlook” option. Consider how much more compelling it would have been to have a name in the closing, rather than just “Vice President”.  Injecting marketing expertise into sales channel activity means more registrations, which means more attendees, and that means more sales.