The “Me Generation” Shouldn’t Apply to Banks

Too many banks talk about themselves in their marketing. They claim smarter people, better customer service, better hours, more ATMs, local knowledge – and the list goes on and on. In my opinion, their “full of themselves” approach to marketing is dead wrong. First, it is somewhat narcissistic, and second it is extremely duplicable.

When businesses base their positioning on what I call “mind-share” features and benefits rather than “heart-share” concepts, they allow the competition to duplicate or even raise the ante. What community bank doesn’t say they have great customer service? What bank doesn’t say it is convenient? What bank doesn’t say it knows its customers? What bank doesn’t have knowledgeable people with some special expertise?

People’s United Bank, based in Connecticut, with branches throughout New England, has developed new ads featuring their people with “know-how.” Their slogan is, “What know-how can do.” The ads shows people doing random acts of kindness that People’s must think shows some kind of special knowledge that competitors can’t duplicate. With all of its resources, People’s should have done a much better job of positioning. Check it out:

My recommendation is advertisers, marketers, or businesses position toward the customer and not themselves. Develop a brand promise that fulfills the wants, desires, needs and aspirations of your customers and the communities you serve. If you choose positioning that touches your audience’s hearts, they will become brand advocates. If you do, you can own something that can’t be duplicated by rate change, longer hours, more ATMs, or boasting more expertise.

Ask yourself, “What business are we really in?” If you say you are in the financial service business, you have lots of competition. So dig deep and find something that moves your brand from products to promises. Several years ago I worked with BankNewport in Rhode Island. Our branding initiative resulted in focusing on “success” as the “business” the bank was in. By the way, not the bank’s success, but its customers’ success. We also made a point of not being presumptuous in thinking that we knew what our customer’s idea of success was. So we asked, “Success – What’s your idea?”

There are many ways to position and advertise your bank. Don’t make the mistake of talking about yourself. Focus on the customer and prospect and you will get better and longer-lasting results.

P.S. What were they thinking? Check it out:

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