Regularly, Avantgarde CEO Martin Schnaack addresses current challenges in experiential marketing – be it changes in society, new trends , or old habits. In this post he addresses the need for banks to change their marketing strategy.
* Update 16/04/2014: As has been revealed a day after posting this article, Facebook will enter the banking business. This puts yet another nail in the coffin of traditional high-street banking. Facebook – for all its data mining – is still seen as a trusted company, while banks across the globe have never been lower in consumers’ estimations.
In a recent interview with a trade magazine I was asked to identify an industry that would benefit from experiential marketing but hasn’t realised this need yet. What came to my mind first was banks and their consumer banking business, and here are four reasons why:
1. They are interchangeable
With the internet and its effortless means to compare prices and services, the whole consumer banking sector has become vastly transparent – or rather: interchangeable. Most banks offer very similar terms and conditions, and apart from their logos they don’t differ much anymore.
2. No more real world experience
Currently, banks are closing many of their branches. Most consumers use online banking services, and at most get some cash money at an ATM. However, online banking is pretty much the same across the board, and without physical branches, there is no real world brand experience left for banks. Here are some recent examples for the death of bank branches in the US, the UK, and Germany.
3. Weak core values
Key banking values like trust and transparency have suffered over the past couple of years. It is questionable that banks can rebuild these values in a faceless, digital-only environment. Unfortunately for them, trust has become the most important currency in marketing. Apart from delivering excellent products brands need to be as transparent as it gets and show integrity in all their moves, or else customers move on to something else. It is quite obvious that banks need to react to this problem, and they have to do it fast.
4. No positive brand experience
Banks aren’t exactly used to creating a positive brand experience. According to a survey by the Carlisle & Gallagher Consulting Group consumers value four key attributes of great customer service in banking: personal attention and reward for loyalty, responsiveness and flexibility, well-trained and helpful employees, and easy to use products and services. Now ask yourself how many of these attributes your bank offers. Just take banks’ opening hours, as illustrated by this light-hearted graph:
It is about time banks understand current consumers’ demands, and turn the banking into a positive brand experience. Arguably, the need for physical branches as the place for banking transactions is waning, but they are potential showrooms for the bank’s core values. Transcending online banking and offering real-life experiences is just as important as security measures.
The good news is: There are other brands in the financial sector that do get it right: Take credit card companies. Just as banks they suffer from a lack of tangibleness. However, they organize club-like events and concerts, connect with their customers and offer authentic experiences. They don’t just sponsor sports and music events: They offer positive customer journeys that fuel the demand for their products. Thus the task for banks is clear: connect with the market, tell compelling stories that include the audience, and engage in a permanent and open dialogue.
Photo: Wayan Vota/Flickr CC