In her recent presentation for the ABA Bank Marketing Conference, Adrenaline’s CXO Gina Bleedorn provided actionable strategies to empower banks to use their biggest and best assets – their branch networks – for growth. Despite declining traffic, branches are still the number one driver of market share and consumer consideration. While they may not want to go into a bank branch every day, consumers of all generations want one nearby when they need it. Gina Bleedorn says, “A study from EY in June finds that 82% of consumers across demographics – both business and retail – say that the presence of a local branch is extremely or very important” in their decision for choosing a primary financial provider.
Watch Gina’s full presentation Leveraging the Local Branch through Proximity Marketing here and learn more below about the powerful current data, practical approaches and real world examples of banks successfully using their brand and branches together to provide genuinely local relevance.
Still the number one factor in a bank’s market share, local branches are a beacon for financial brands in a local market. But they also represent a way to combat megabank tech and scale. While a mobile app or digital banking may provide access anywhere, nothing beats branches when consumers need trusted counsel. A critical point of differentiation, the branch is part of an omnichannel strategy that drives better customer experiences. Banking giant Chase understands the power of the branch, even with fewer people coming in. That’s why they’ve doubled down on the branch channel despite the pandemic.
Even as COVID wears on, Chase’s aggressive branch network expansion strategy is working. “That’s because Chase knows how to leverage the power of their branches for growth, regardless of how many times people go in them,” according to Gina. While all financial institutions have fintech nipping at their heels, the big banks are right in the bullseye. “These megabanks are vulnerable. Last year, big banks lost about 7.5% market share while digital banks gained the same amount.” While of course community FIs need digital strategies to compete, Gina says, “Fintech encroachment is happening to the detriment of megabanks more than anyone else.”
With competition all around, most financial institutions are no longer the only option or even one of several options in the market. Gina says, “Everyone talked about multichannel and omnichannel, and that is still a thing – you're still having to balance all of those channels. But then the question remains: What does the channel mean now?” The bottom line is that consumer awareness rules. “Now, the physical channel is about perception more than anything else.” It’s convenience and counsel all available right around the corner.
But true market heft comes when a financial institution makes the most of the branch and the brand together. Gina reminds banks and credit unions to have a change-agent mindset related to competition and how they serve customer needs. She says, “A recent paper by Accenture just came out and one of the most powerful quotes in it I thought was this: ‘In a time of change, all banks are challengers.’” As a best practice to get in the consideration set for local consumers, “that's how you have to think about the value of that physical channel” fused with brand presence.
When Guaranty Bank wanted to expand their footprint, they followed the population moving north to new opportunities. But instead of opening a bunch of branches in a new market, they started their expansion north in a smart, strategic way. Gina says, “As part of this strategy, we helped them design and build a new branch in South Haven right South of Memphis and at the same time, they had another location opportunity to buy and renovate a historic building in Greenwood.” Following these updates, “they realized they needed some dot connectors in between their markets, especially with this rural expansiveness. So, we started to design and open these ITM-only locations, sometimes miles away from any branch. And they've been wildly successful in helping the points of presence.”
While having a standalone ITM alone itself is not a strategy, when supporting a hub and spoke it is part of a powerful strategy, a steady drumbeat building. When Guaranty said they’re ready to move to Memphis, we had already begun seeding their brand as they moved north. “When framing their brand and their marketing for the entry into this market, we made it all about the market,” Gina says. Making it Memphis, the campaign leaned on local elements for a powerful brand statement, by tying the brand into the market that they're moving into. Gina says, “What you can start to see is that there is a spirit of the local market infused into all of this creative.”
With “Good Business Moves,” this market entrance campaign was all about Memphis, but specifically targeting the local business community. Since this was an acquisition expansion, all customer communications needed to be carefully calibrated. Gina says, “Obviously, we had to influence the First Alliance Bank customers and give them the right onboarding, so there was no attrition, but at the same time, beckon and connect with the community.” With geo-targeted ads in and around the bank branch, the team used proximity marketing to serve up relevant digital and social ads based on nearby digital device activity. Leaning on mobility data, Gina says, “these messages work more than anything because you are authentically right there in their neighborhood,” providing genuinely local relevance.
For information and insights on strategies for leveraging the local branch, be sure to visit Adrenaline’s Perspective channel and see Believe in Banking for the latest news and data on branch banking. To request a download of the presentation or speak with one of Adrenaline’s branch experts about developing an optimization plan for your network, especially important in the post-COVID era, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Adrenaline is a brand experience company that creates and implements end-to-end branded experiences through creative and environmental design. We enhance our clients’ customer experiences across digital and physical channels, from their branding and advertising to design and technology in their spaces. After transforming an organization’s brand, Adrenaline extends it across all touchpoints — from employees to the market to in-store environments. And, we focus on serving industries that sell human experiences including financial, healthcare, sports and entertainment.