In our last edition we analyzed whether community banks are ready to take part in the social media network with their own Facebook or Twitter pages. Concluding that most community banks are not ready for such a journey, we now offer five to-dos that are worth tackling in 2011.
1. Redesign Your Website — Take a tour of 10 community bank Websites and you’ll be amazed at how user-friendli-less they are. With Internet and mobile banking becoming the rage, it’s alarming to me that more banks don’t spend a little time and money on making their Websites more attractive and easy to use.
2. Introduce Remote Deposit & Mobile Banking — Nothing is more important than developing better technologies and services for your customers. Simply make it easier for them to work with you. That’s your job. Remote deposit capture and mobile banking are terrific offspring to the now-antique concepts of Internet banking and bill pay. Unfortunately, most banks are fighting this new paradigm with every ounce of energy they can muster. Bankers seem to think that the less time customers spend in their branches, the less likely they will be to buy other products or, worse, remain loyal customers. The exact opposite is true. The less time users have to spend standing in line or waiting for a customer service rep to get back to them, the more satisfied and loyal they will be. And these new fancy services aren’t just cool additions to your banking platform; rather, they will become absolute necessities if you plan on banking the next generation of customers. So, it’s not a question of “if” but “when”.
3. Advertise On-line — Community banks have largely ignored this medium. After all, they can hardly take care of their own Website, much less worry about posting ads on someone else’s. Now’s the time to venture into this space. It signifies to your customers that on-line is the future of banking and you’re ready for it. Next time you review your advertising budget, consider the effectiveness (or ineffectiveness) of your last print campaign. With new product and service launches, on-line advertising is the most efficient and effective way to get the word out.
4. Define your brand — Most financial institutions really haven’t identified what their brand is. An effective brand strategy aligns every aspect of your business around one concept. If you haven’t defined who you are, what you promise to deliver and how you will do that, now’s the time to discover your core brand elements. Questions to consider include:
- How are we different than the rest?
- How is our brand promise relevant to our customers?
- Can we back up our brand promise (is it credible)?
- Can our brand be easily copied or improved upon?
5. Attack the Weak — You read the quarterly Call Reports like everyone else. You know your competitors and their financial strengths or weaknesses. Now’s the time to develop a strategy to capitalize on the realities of this economy: some will make it and others will not. Strategies can range from an entire takeover or branch purchase to a simple calling program to introduce their customers to your services. But act fast – your healthy competitors are thinking the same thing.