“Ah, there’s nothing like a phone book for finding something in a hurry.” Realistically, the last time you said that Kenny G. had a No. 1 holiday album. (Or, if you’re not old enough to get that reference, you’ve probably never said that at all.)
Once upon a time, helping customers find you was as simple as keeping your information accurate in the local yellow pages directory. And everyone had a copy because the publisher distributed them for free. In most cases, you probably called the first listing in the relevant category and went down the list until you found one that fit.
It was a simple system that continues to operate in 75 countries worldwide. However, today’s consumers aren’t looking for another paginated doorstop. They’re looking for businesses, services, and products that have a presence online — because searching the internet facilitates a more comprehensive experience. Consumers can research competitors, read your website, browse reviews on Yelp, and make an informed decision with their dollars, all before they dial a phone number.
That’s why your institution needs visibility in a variety of ways across multiple platforms. Today we’re going to talk about how you can reach more consumers, and turn them into account holders.
Taking Your Consumer Outreach Game To The Next Level
We’ll be looking at this through the lens of a three-pronged strategy: 1) Offering the right thing, 2) in the right place, 3) at the right time.
We’ll use automotive repair shops as a case study in optimizing the consumer experience. They often run the gamut between single-location businesses that rely on walk-ins (or drive-bys) and established brands that have many locations.
How do you decide which shop to trust with your vehicle?
Do They Offer The Right Thing?
If you know your car needs new brakes, you might seek a shop that specializes in brakes. Often a repair shop will list their specialty in the name itself, or feature it on prominently on their sign. Just Brakes, Discount Tire, and Jiffy Lube are some regional examples of businesses that take this approach. However, for shops that offer a wide range of services, they often create packages that appeal to different customer segments. This helps guide the customer to a decision and build the perceived value of the service.
For a community financial institution, this could mean offering branded checking accounts or running promotions that combine multiple products and services. Consumers enjoy selecting products or services that “feel” customized to their needs — they want to know that you took the time to think about what they want, not just what’s easy to sell.
Are They In The Right Places?
It’s safe to say that virtually all car repair shops have a sign outside their place of business, and that may be enough to keep a one-, or two-man operation busy. For a growth-minded shop, they will look for opportunities to increase their visibility. They may use billboards, local newspaper ads, or even direct mail. Most even have a website, but many would earn only a grade of “E” for effort on their digital presence.
For a bank or credit union, this challenge can be very similar. Have you taken the time to create a welcoming, useful website? Have you completed your Facebook, Google My Business, and Yelp profiles? Look for opportunities to increase your institution’s visibility in places where consumers are thinking about money (ever notice when a grocery store also has a bank branch inside? That’s because payday and groceries go together like peanut butter and jelly). This is often referred to as an omnichannel approach.
Are They Communicating At The Right Time?
Automotive repair shops have various ways to time their promotional offers correctly. It might be as simple as a branded sticker on the windshield that tells you when to come by for your next oil change. It could also an email program that tracks when your vehicle is ready for regular maintenance and sends you a reminder email and coupon. Ultimately, most car-owners don’t remember to perform maintenance when the manufacturer recommends it, so it’s a good idea for shops to find ways to help without nagging.
Timing plays a big part in moving a consumer from the “consideration stage” to the “decision stage.” You may need to ask for their business multiple times before the timing is right. If you only communicate once and decide that anything else would be annoying, you’re forgetting how busy and disorganized most people are. Think of it this way: how often do you let an email get buried in your inbox by telling yourself you'll get to it later, only to be nudged by the sender for a followup? It's not annoying if it is helpful.
Utilizing consumer data is also critical for timing offers correctly. With the right technology partner, you can run behavior-triggered, one-to-one communication with your account holders. This will greatly increase your chances of getting a “yes” when you make offers.
Put Consumer Needs First
You never know when somebody may decide that today is the day for a new checking account or loan. But if you aren’t raising awareness, creating compelling offers, and timing your offers in a thoughtful way, then you will lose those potential account holders to an institution that will.