How to get banking customers to choose you

Every year, almost one in ten consumers moves their checking account. What triggers them to move? And how can you help ensure they have their sights set on your financial institution when decision day comes?

First, let’s look at why people switch.  Sure, we know promotions and cash incentives can make consumers change their primary banking relationship. But in reality, it’s a relatively small number. The number one reason people switch banks is life circumstances. Whether it’s a divorce or a move, something in their life has caused a need for a new banking partner.

So are you in a good position to capture these prospects when they’re ready? Here’s some things you can do to help ensure they look your way… and not that of the mega bank across the street.

1. Have a distinctive brand. If your brand is not memorable and compelling, you need to get to work on this before anything else. You will get more bang for the buck out of every single marketing effort if you first develop a distinctive brand.

Look at your advertising vs. your competitors. Is it likeable? Memorable? Inviting? Outside of a short-term promotion, are you offering anything your competitors don’t? Service? Environment? Speed? Or are you simply saying the same thing with a different font and a different tagline? If you take the time to create a brand that stands out and offers something relevant or appealing to consumers, your every marketing effort will be much more successful.

It’s not always possible to offer service or an environment that is distinctly different from competitors. In this case, let your positioning and your advertising do the work. Research has shown that when people like your ad, they transfer those feelings to your brand. A long-term radio campaign we developed for HomeTrust Bank had customers coming in to open an account “just because they liked the advertising.”

2.  Make sure your branches stand out. Most of your customers will still come from within a 3-mile radius of your branches. How noticeable are they? Does your signage command attention? Do your branches “sell” your brand? Look at ways to use your building, your front lawn and your signage to draw attention. For a credit union client with a number of branches in shopping centers, we designed window shades that drew the eyes of passersby both day and night. At the same time, the shades supported the positioning of the credit union and the benefits it offered.

LGE shades night 2

3. Use geo-targeted media. Maintain a presence around your branches. The options are endless. Obvious opportunities are cable and billboards for awareness building. (And by all means, don’t pay for a digital billboard unless it’s the only good location. You pay big bucks and are only seen 10 out of every 60 seconds.) But online and mobile advertising now give you so many great opportunities to target geographically, demographically and behaviorally. Want to reach Millennials? They’re on their phones!

4. Heavy up in spring and summer. Many families move over the summer when school is out. So look at having a heavier presence or solid checking promotion in late spring and early summer. And what about graduating high school students? They’re going to need a checking account when they head off to school. This provides more seasonal opportunities for a much sought after demographic.

5. Make it easy. Many banks spend money generating interest in their brands, and then don’t realize they’re losing the customer in the final steps of the process. Make sure the process for opening an account is as simple and painless as possible. If you don’t have a switch kit, create one. Check your online applications with regularity to make sure they’re working smoothly and seamlessly. And mystery shop your call centers to be sure prospective customers are getting through without any wait. Best yet – offer to transfer bill pay information over for new customers. It might take 15 minutes of a CSR’s time, but you could end up with a new customer for 10 years.

6.  Once you’ve got ‘em, keep ‘em. Do you have a plan in place for cross-selling new customers? Get them hooked with online banking and bill pay as soon as possible. But don’t forget to start cross-selling right from the start. The deeper the relationship, the more revenue you generate. But at the same time, your customer becomes more tied to your financial institution, and less likely to go somewhere else.
In a US Retail Bank New Account Study, 43% of respondents said they purchased an additional banking product from someone other than their primary bank. When it comes to products outside of checking accounts, people are much more likely to respond to promotions and cash offers, and location becomes less important. So be sure you’re taking advantage of low hanging fruit, and selling those additional banking products to your own customers!

Consumers do not want to move their checking accounts. It’s considered a big hassle, without a big payoff. But circumstances will force a percentage of consumers to switch every year. So create a unique brand. Stand out among the rest. And make the switch easy. Do all this, and you will be leading those coveted checking account customers right to your front door.