You Complete Me: How Marketing Can Boost Change Management Outcomes

In previous blogs, we highlighted six questions common to successful marketing and change management initiatives and common communication requirements across the five stages of audience journeys in adopting change. Now we want to go into the tactical implications of those communication requirements for change management.

There is a trope in love stories and RomComs of one character professing love for another through the words “you complete me.” Like many clichés, it has currency because it’s grounded in an experienced truth: In successful relationships, each partner possesses attributes that shore up weaknesses in the other so that together they are both stronger. That’s how it is with marketing and change management.

As we discussed previously, the similarity of the audience journey in the ADKAR framework to the customer decision-making journey is in the key communication considerations within each framework. Based on this foundation, marketing can help “complete” change management by offering communication best practices and ideas for each stage.

AWARENESS. Communications must highlight the need, bringing to light the pain that needs to be addressed. To be compelling, communication of that pain must be both credible and empathetic.

Examples of marketing communications at this stage:

  • Emails and presentations that explain the change in terms of its impact on all team members, coming from executive leaders
  • FAQs that capture and provide honest answers to real questions likely on the minds of team members

DESIRE. Communications must define the proposed change as the solution to the need, i.e., the best way to relieve the pain. To be successful, these communications must reach the “heart” and the “mind” of the audience by appealing to emotions and logic.

Examples of marketing communications at this stage:

  • Case studies of early, quick “wins” that highlight the benefits realized through the change
  • Infographics presenting the need for change and its potential benefits in simple, visual terms

KNOWLEDGE. Communications must create a solid understanding of the world after the change, in contrast with the current state. To be effective, these communications must make the case that the future state is close at hand and that the path to get there is very simple.

Example of marketing communications at this stage:

  • How-to videos and one-page quick-reference guides that make the path to implementation seem easy; brevity and visuals take priority over words and detailed use cases

ABILITY. Communications must minimize the perceived effort involved in change and reduce friction to take the first step. Successful communications at this stage offer a helping hand—not condescending but by providing clear, simple guidelines that encourage the audience to move down the path.

Examples of marketing communications at this stage:

  • Training materials and tools that provide comprehensive information about how to accomplish current tasks in the new state and instill confidence that change can be achieved
  • Gamification that turns mundane change into activities that confer status or create excitement for team members

REINFORCEMENT. Last, but definitely not least, communications must continue to celebrate the benefits delivered. Many change initiatives fail because they are thought of as a “one and done” proposition in which a single, intense effort suffices. Instead, the initiatives need to be promoted over an extended time period to bring along laggards and solidify the changes already made by early adopters.

Examples of marketing communications at this stage:

  • Success stories/testimonials highlighting the benefits achieved and improvements gained, not only in quantitative terms but in human, emotional terms
  • Awards to bring attention to change-driven achievements and, in the process, elicit feelings of aspiration and potentially competitiveness

Here’s the bottom line: if you’re not thinking about change management like a marketer and marketing like a change management leader, you probably missing something that could elevate the impact of your efforts.

7 Communications Tips for Banks in Developing an Effective COVID-19 Response for Small Business Clients

Now that Congress and the Administration have agreed on a $310 billion deal to replenish the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), banks are scrambling to help small businesses apply for this additional funding. At the same time, banks are providing information to small business clients on direct reliefs and channel availability, as well as tips to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The enormity of the challenge facing small businesses and the economy as a whole defies description. No communication can overcome this burden. But silence is not an option and messaging matters. It’s critical to communicate effectively with small business clients during this pandemic.

Develop a multi-faceted response. The PPP is vital for many small business owners, but many banks have only been providing information on how to apply for PPP. This means they are missing other opportunities to engage with and help small business owners, many of whom are struggling with day-to-day operational issues. Consider offering additional information on supports available to small businesses, and advice on how to navigate through the pandemic.

  • Best practice: PNC has developed a range of content to help small businesses deal with the crisis, including “Four Ways Small Businesses Can Navigate During Times of Uncertainty” and “What to Do When Cash Flow Slows.”

Create a connection. Messaging on coronavirus response must be both clear and empathetic. This is particularly important in headlines and topline statements on how the bank is supporting its small business clients.

  • Best practices: Citizens Bank and KeyBank both use the theme of “We’re in this together” for their coronavirus information.

Communicate information clearly. To ensure that small business clients are directed to key information and not overwhelmed by detail, focus on strong copywriting and editing, as well as using layout and navigation tools to help readers quickly find what they need.

  • Best practice: Santander Bank uses red type, spacing, headings, and bullet points to effectively organize its COVID-19 response information.
  • Best practice: TD Bank uses tabs on its website to direct small businesses to information on its own customer assistance program, SBA PPP Loans, and other relief options.

Provide guides and tools. Many banks have developed tools (such as online forms, FAQs, guides and checklists) to aid small businesses in understanding support and options available to them,and to apply for funding

  • Best practice: Huntington Bank has published a series of FAQs to address various aspects of the PPP program, including general questions, eligibility and application information.
  • Best practice: Umpqua Bank integrated a well-designed application form into its CARES Act Paycheck Protection Program information page.

Consolidate all information into a single resource center. Develop standalone portals or resource centers to retain all coronavirus-related information in a single location. This enables you to maintain a consistent tone in coronavirus messaging, avoid any client confusion, and better manage the process of providing updates.

  • Best practice: Citizens Bank operates a dedicated COVID-19 Resource Center, with links to services and resources, details on financial hardship relief assistance and a message from the bank’s CEO.

Embrace multiple communications channels. Use the numerous channels – branch, phone, website, social media – at your disposal to provide updates and directly engage with small business clients.

  • Best practice: PNC directs clients to dedicated toll-free numbers for different product categories; some numbers are operational 24×7.

Update information regularly. Many banks provided initial information on their COVID-19 response, but they have not provided regular and comprehensive updates, a critical failing in this extremely dynamic environment.

  • Best practice: Bank of the West publishes regular updates in videos featuring the bank’s CMO Ben Stuart.

Steady Growth in Marketing Spend and Marketing Ratios for Top U.S. Banks in 2019

EMI’s annual analysis of marketing expenditure for 25 leading U.S. banks reveals that they grew marketing spending by 7% in 2019 to $15.4 billion. This rate was down from the 13% growth between 2017 and 2018.

The banks’ marketing ratio (defined as advertising and marketing spend as a percentage of net revenue) has risen steadily in recent years, growing 18 basis points (bps) to 2.92% in 2018, and by an additional 21 bps to 3.13% in 2019.

The chart below summarizes marketing ratios, marketing budgets and y/y change in marketing spending for these 25 banks.

The following are some additional takeaways from our bank marketing spend analysis:

  • 16 of the 25 banks increased their marketing spending in 2019, with 5 increasing their budgets by more than 10%.
  • 6 banks invested more than $1 billion in advertising and marketing. Wells Fargo joined this group for the first time in 2019, with marketing spending rising by 26%, driven in large part by the launch of the ‘This is Wells Fargo’ integrated marketing campaign in January 2019 . It has invested strongly in advertising in recent years as it seeks to rebuild its reputation following the fallout from fake account and mortgage mishandling scandals.
  • 11 banks increased their marketing ratios in 2019, with 6 of these growing the ratios by more than 10 basis points. The largest rise was reported by Bank of America, whose 15% increase in its marketing spend led to a 38 bps rise in its marketing ratio (to 2.3%).
  • Banks that do not have branch networks and have national credit card franchises (American Express and Discover) had the highest marketing ratios. Capital One’s credit card bank charter – Capital One Bank (USA), National Association – had a marketing ratio of 10.3% in 2019, while its retail banking charter – Capital One, National Association – had a ratio (3.2%) more in line with peer regional banks.

It is almost impossible to project bank marketing spending for 2020, given the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the U.S. economy in general, and the banking sector in particular. In the short term, marketing budgets will trend downwards as bank revenues are impacted by decreased economic activity. However, unlike the 2018-09 Financial Crisis, the country’s fundamentals were strong heading into this disruption, which increases optimism that the economy can recover quickly once the pandemic abates. This may lead to a robust bank marketing spending in the second half of 2020. What is more clear is banks will continue to shift their marketing budgets from traditional media (e.g., TV and print) to digital and other nontraditional media.