Marketing’s Finally Taking Commercial Banking Seriously…and Vice Versa

For decades, bank marketers have all but ignored their commercial banking segment.  A few print ads, the occasional golf sponsorship and one or more expensive brochures were the familiar marketing program.  But as commercial banking has taken on a lead role in delivering profitable growth in the new normal post-recession, marketers are recognizing the importance—and the complexity—of supporting commercial sales acceleration.

EMI has identified best practices from 5 banks in the vanguard with Commercial Marketing:

  1. Content Marketing that matters:  PNC
    A rich and dynamic content portal featuring a broad and deep array of publications, from Treasury-focused profiles of 32 countries to fast-read, unique perspectives and an active blog….all put PNC at the top of Commercial Bank Marketing.  Love their editorial focus. Topics like “The Evolution of the Strategic Treasurer” and “Fortifying Your Financial Future in Turbulent Times” are compelling, and the content is not hackneyed.  Video reinforces—although the executive “talking heads” get a bit tired.
  2. Video Case Studies you’ll want to watch:  UMB
    “Our customers inspire us” is the hook that draws you into regional player UMB’s non-promotional stories.  These videos take the viewer on walks through real client businesses and clearly demonstrate that UMB knows these clients the way you’d want your banker to know you.
    An entrepreneur who bets everything to make the best craft beer and is now in the top 20 brewers in the nation.  UMB customer since 1991.  A 100-year old flour mill—one of the last independent mills in the US—that’s tripled its capacity and differentiated its brand enough to charge a premium price…with flour.  UMB customer since 1981.  Don’t those stories make you want to look?  UMB Real Customer Stories.
    And take note:  these do not promote bank products.  The bank isn’t even mentioned until the last screen.  It’s enough.  It works.
  3. Printed case studies that tell a story:  BBVA Compass
    Anyone who’s ever tried to create a series of commercial case studies in any industry knows how hard it is.  Find a good story.  Get the relationship owner to let you talk to the client.  Get the client to want to talk to you.  Get the client to agree to tell their story and endorse your bank—even implicitly—in  public.  Then make the story interesting and demonstrate the bank’s role in creating success…while telling the truth.  Then do this 14 times across industries as diverse as recyclable waste management and pulmonary critical care.  BBVA Compass engages you with a Q&A format to tell the story, but makes the bank-specific points it needs to make.  Consistent formats and easy search tools support both push and pull applications.
  4. Making content easy to find, while demonstrating depth:  BMO Harris
    Like other major business banks, BMO Harris has created a Resource Center, the now-familiar nomenclature for the bank’s portal of thought leadership, and new euphemism for “stuff you should be interested in that isn’t directly selling our products but should impress you enough to work with us.”  The customary list of materials—client success stories, webinars, research, white papers, insights—is there, but is easy to search with a well-designed interface that allows an industry, topic or author lens.  The RSS feed option is unusual in banking.  And BMO Harris must pay a pretty penny for the outside content from Forbes and the Wall Street Journal—although these publishers keep it current.
  5. Actually figuring out how to use social in Commercial:  Big & small brands
    Retail banks are starting to establish best practices in social customer service, but marketing ROI has yet to be proven.  And the value of #socialmedia in commercial banking is yet to be explored.  Great thing about social is that size doesn’t forecast success.  Take @AssociatedBiz—at <$25billion in assets based in Green Bay, Wisconsin:  nearly 600 tweets …and already a clear voice, consistent frequency, and relevant content—from managing healthcare costs to security tips—balanced with promotional messaging on vertical specialties and cash management capabilities .  Other end of the spectrum is @jpmorganTS, new to the twittersphere, but already at 1650+ tweets.  Strong content ranges from export financing in Asia to managing regulatory burdens.  Strong integration

Commercial banking deserves great marketing.  Come back for best practices in 1:1 marketing that can drive C&I growth and profits.

Banks Marketing Mobile Services to Commercial Banking Clients

Bank of America recently announced that it now has more than 10 million active mobile banking users.  Other leading banks, such as Chase and Wells Fargo, are also reporting very strong growth in mobile banking usage.  We expect the strong growth in mobile banking usage to continue, given the increased penetration of smartphones and tablets, the growing sophistication and power of these devices, as well as people’s increased comfort with using mobile channels for everyday financial management needs.

Much of the focus in mobile banking to date has been on the consumer market, but some of the leading U.S. banks are now directing their attention to the commercial banking market.  In recent weeks:

  • Financial technology vendor Jack Henry launched a commercial banking app for the Apple iPad.
  • Citibank incorporated elements of its TradeAdvisor online banking tool (which enables companies to conduct cross-border trade transactions) into its CitiDirect BE Mobile banking suite.
  • Wells Fargo integrated its TradeXchange service into the bank’s CEO Mobile app.
  • Bank of America Merrill Lynch developed an iPad app for its Paymode-X online payment and invoicing system.
  • JPMorgan Treasury Services introduced remote check deposit.

The examples above show that, not surprisingly, the largest banks have led the charge into new mobile commercial banking apps.  Small regional and community banks now need to follow suit, in order to meet commercial clients’ needs and remain competitive.

The objectives behind the development and marketing of mobile banking functionality in the commercial space are very similar to that in the consumer banking environment:

  • Lowering customer service costs
  • Enhancing the customer experience
  • Differentiating services from competitors, or reducing a competitive disadvantage
  • Reducing churn through the provision of “sticky” services
  • Providing additional customer touchpoints for cross-sell and upsell

Differentiation through commercial mobile banking (and in other service areas) can be fleeting, as other banks will aim to imitate certain value-added service and close the competitive gap. To maintain a competitive advance in the provision of mobile banking services, banks need to:

  • Continually research customer desire for and usage of new mobile apps
  • Effectively market these apps to new and existing customers
  • Communicate the value of these apps to bank personnel who deal directly with commercial clients
  • Integrate the emerging mobile banking channel with other customer sales and service channels to provide a seamless and consistent user experience.