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Ken Dunn

The Value of Brand Values

By Blog, Financial Marketing

Brand ValuesWho are you and what do you stand for?

There is nothing more important for a business than knowing who they are. I’m using “who” because that’s how a brand should be seen — as a person. It’s the best way to start and deepen your relationship with your audience.

So as a brand ask yourself, what do you believe? What do you sound like, look like, and feel like? Who are you talking to? How are talking to them? And what do you want people to feel when they hear you speak?

You don’t invent this meaning. You uncover it. Branding starts inside an organization and then grows to meet the public. It’s important that everyone who represents the company understands and represents the brand. A brand is a promise. The people in your organization handle fulfilling that promise. That’s why it’s vital that your brand is communicated clearly and consistently across all channels — and every touch-point for consumers.

Okay, so how do we figure out who we are?

Start by asking yourself some basic questions. Then survey several key people within your company to answer them, too. Things like:

  • What’s the most important thing we want people to think about our company?
  • Do we want to talk at people or talk with people?
  • What are some keywords that you think customers use to describe the company?
  • Are these the keywords you want them to be using?
  • Write down a list of brands you admire. How can you get closer to their type of branding?

You might notice some inconsistency in what you’re hearing. If that’s the case, consider hiring an agency to take a look at your brand and evaluate it/grade it. A complete rebrand isn’t always necessary, but sometimes it is.

As the saying goes: if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.

Once you figure out who your brand is, it must stand for something. To figure out what that is, start looking into the different channels.

Right now, the buzzword is “content.” Content marketing might be right for you, but not necessarily. Would your customers benefit from content? Would they even want it? The answer here requires an in-depth analysis of their daily habits and where they get information. Once you understand their information-gathering patterns, you’ll know if targeting them with content is smart – or not.

So if it’s not content, what is it?

Good question. A lot of brands find success by being altruistic. They help make the world a better place. We’ve seen this work with huge brands like TOMS and Apple, but it can work for your brand, too.

Consider partnering with a cause you believe in and committing to donate a percentage of your profits each year to benefit them. Partnerships like this not only help create an emotional connection for Customers with your brand, but they also help give you a reason for being or a “Why.” And every brand needs a “Why.”

Is a brand a logo?

So glad you asked. A logo (or a mark in old-school advertising speak) is only part of your brand. While it’s a vital visual representation of you that is consistent across all channels, it’s not who you are. If your logo is green — not everything you do has to be green. If your logo has a star in it, you don’t have to be named Star Company, Inc.

That said, a logo and proper brand materials are important to have a well-received, established brand. Partnering with a design firm who specializes in branding is a good place to start for this project. They should be able to provide you with multiple options of logos, taglines and ways to talk about your company as well as ideas for cross-channel collateral and incentive programs.

Brands tell stories.

So enough about what we think, let’s talk about you. Or rather, let’s have you talk about you. That’s the beginning of defining your brand — and it sets you on the path to telling the beautiful story of who your company is, why it exists, and what it has to offer the world.

The One Marketing Channel that Out Performs All Others

By Blog

SaddlebackEye.CaseStudy2Marketing professionals today are under tremendous pressure. They have less time, less money and greater demands placed upon them. Yet, they all have one thing in common. They are looking for effective ways to grow their business.

We all know that in order to reach a consumer you must be in the right place at the right time with the right message and in the right medium. This is why marketers are using a combination of methods to grow their business. Yet research shows that, if you’re going to hang your hat on one particular method of reaching current and potential clients, you must include direct mail.

Now, I know you are reading this on a blog post. You may have found this on our website with a push from Facebook. Or perhaps you ran across this post on LinkedIn. I understand that social and online marketing methods work. But according to the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) direct mail has a response rate of up to 10 to 30 times that of email and even higher when compared to online display.

In fact, direct mail outperforms all digital channels combined by nearly 600%. Direct mail achieves a 3.7% while all digital channels combined only achieve a 0.62% response rate.

  • Mobile 0.2%
  • Email 0.1%
  • Social Media 0.1%
  • Paid Search 0.1%
  • Display Advertising 0.02%

Perhaps there’s an underlying, emotional, touchy-feely kind of process going on here. Take a look at the direct mail pieces that have the highest response rates.

  • Oversized envelopes 5.0%
  • Postcards 4.25%
  • Dimensional 4.0%
  • Catalogs 3.9%
  • Letter-sized envelopes 3.5%

What do all of these marketing pieces have in common? Each must be touched and manipulated. You must open, turn, flip or in some other way interact with the marketing materials.

A number of studies in Europe and the United States have shown that, when viewing physical ads, participants had a stronger emotional response and remembered them better. Physical ads also leave a longer lasting impact for easy recall when making a purchase decision. And, most importantly, physical ads triggered activity in the area of the brain that is responsible for value and desirability for featured products, which can signal a greater intent to purchase.

At Westamerica Communications we know that direct mail works. For years we have provided direct mail services to numerous Southern California companies. For one of our clients, a major Lasik Surgery provider, we provided creative services, list purchasing, data appending and file updates. And, because we understand that direct mail works well with other marketing mediums, we integrated with all additional media involved in the campaign to ensure proper timing and consistent messaging across all channels. Combining direct mail with additional media resulted in a very successful campaign.

According to Harris Diamond, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer at McCann Worldwide, the average American spends 25 minutes a day with mail. He presented this research at the 2016 National Postal Forum. Diamond called it, “The Mail Moment.” He said, “…In a world in which people are endlessly bombarded with electronic messages, direct mail is now the most welcome house guest.” These are some impressive words coming from the CEO of an agency that represents companies such as Coca-Cola, General Mills, and MasterCard.

The data shows that direct mail works. It is an effective marketing channel. That’s why we use it in our marketing efforts and we use it in our client’s marketing efforts.

Highly Recommended – Growing through referral incentives.

By Blog, Financial Marketing

Highly Recommended

Incent, incent, incent. And after that, try using an incentive. In our over-cluttered, over-informed world, one of the best ways to grow it through referrals. If you think that think this strategy sounds like you’ll be paying people to sing your praises, you’d be right.

There’s no shame in rewarding people for expressing what they already believe. These folks have enjoyed working with you. With the proper motivation, they will happily refer their friends, family, and inner-most circle. And that’s when the magic happens. Once more people find out you’re incentivizing referrals, the more referrals you’ll get. And then, boom. It’s like a waterfall of new business.

So we’re not going to be losing money on these incentives?

Absolutely not. Well, maybe on the first one. But after that, the returns pay dividends.

Companies like Airbnb and Starbucks see huge results by incentivizing referrals. But you have to go about it correctly. A lot of banks and credit unions view referrals on a small scale — typically implementing them as short referral campaigns and then shelving them.

We think we know why. The process needs to be easy for the customer. We’ve seen a lot of referral programs advertised on a website or email, which is fine — until the customer is required to take an extra step like printing out a PDF to make the referral. This one extra step can lose you a referral. People want to be rewarded — but with the minimum amount of work. The easier you make it, the more effective you’ll become.

Okay, what’s the right way to do it?

Look into using a digital referral platform. But not your old stand-by. In fact, we’ve seen that the typical digital referral platforms aren’t as effective as a few new things out there. Let’s take a look at some examples of companies that are using new digital referral techniques and seeing success:

  • Several neo-banks including Simple and Coin are making digital referrals an integral part of their lead generation and acquisition strategy.
  • Outside of our industry, services like Uber, Airbnb and Clear use these programs and continue to gain customers — and market share.
  • Banking institutions who are using referral programs correctly — like Simple, view it as not just a once-a-year campaign but as a key piece of their digital marketing and lead generation strategy. Especially when it comes to onboarding and cross-selling. Simple even has a referral function within their online banking platform to make it easy for their customers to do this. But they don’t stop there. They follow through with referral call to actions across onboarding emails once someone has applied for an account with them. They make the process (you guessed it) simple.

Not totally convinced?

It can be scary to change the way you approach referrals, but it doesn’t have to be. Talk to the people behind the scenes of your digital marketing and ask about testing a new referral system.

Sometimes, taking a small step in the right direction is the right place to start. Once you begin to see positive results, look into implementing the new strategy across multiple channels. You won’t be disappointed by the results you see; chances are you’ll experience exactly the opposite.

You must understand what your customers need and want – and what would be the right way to incentivize them. No one wants an incentive they don’t need. So spend some time on the front-end doing research. Find out what’s working in similar institutions. And then, sit back and watch the referrals flow.

Just don’t forget …

The single most important part of this puzzle is to track your referrals — and follow up. Say thank you. It creates a positive reinforcement loop that sends a message your institution is all about action and accountability. People aren’t required to refer you to anyone. The fact they did so is a big deal — an extra step. Sure, you’ve made it easier for them by digitizing it, but it’s still something they did because they believe in you. Prove to them that you believe in them, too.

Come together: Omni-channel marketing with meaningful content

By Blog

Come-TogetherThere is a very smart person at Dominos. The pizza chain that made its mark with quick delivery is now getting recognition for quick ordering. Their users who have already set up a Pizza Profile can reorder using an emoji — the pizza slice emoji of course. Yep, that cute little picture programmed into most smartphones is the newest and shortest character of shorthand.  Words are now too old and cumbersome. We can order pizza using a single picture.  And here’s the genius part: They have to do it in a tweet.  So Dominos is getting revenue and earned social media all in one cute little emoji. That’s omni-channel marketing at its finest.

Say hello to the new consumer.

Dominos is doing more than responding to this new form of interacting with a consumer. They are recruiting and creating digital-savvy customers and turning them into fans. Yes, there’s a new consumer in town. Notice I didn’t say user. While this new being can be a user, we are talking about this person in both online and real terms, so let’s stick with the term “consumer”.

With the new consumer, everything flows. They have devices that work seamlessly together. If they see something fun on their phone, they can share it. Not just on Instagram or Twitter but they can instantly broadcast it from their phone to their living room TV. They see no barriers between the online and actual world — and they want their brands to do the same. Now.

As financial institutions, we’re in luck.

We have a slight advantage compared to some of our other partners. We’ve been dealing with this blended and digital world for a while now. With direct deposit came the possibility that a customer could deposit a check, use the ATM or debit card and never step in a bank. They no longer even needed to carry around cash. With branches, ATMs, online banking, mobile banking and now Apple Pay — we’ve done a pretty good job making our customers’ money available to them in a way that fits their needs. That’s omni-channel service.

Now we just need to do the same with our marketing content.

They are not going to ask for control they already have.

The new consumer is beyond empowered. They have multiple devices and options when it comes to how they interact with brands. They will develop their own content and will not ask permission to be a part of the brand landscape. If you’re not part of their world, with a few clicks or swipes — or now emoji — they will find a brand that will.

How to Omni-channel

That’s why omni-channel marketing is perfect for capturing this new audience. We’re talking about something that’s much more than a campaign. It’s bigger than that; it’s a philosophy. Omni-channel is about an ongoing conversation using digital and traditional marketing that work together with the branch experience. The first step is to begin listening. Aggregate all the information on your consumer behavior. Then focus your efforts on their interaction with your brand. Use this information to create a Customer Journey or a projected path your consumer would take to not only reach a one time purchase decision but the path to an ongoing and meaningful relationship with your brand. Then align your marketing in all channels to fit that journey.

Why it’s worth the effort.

Studies have shown that the personalization inherent in an omni-channel marketing strategy can increase conversion rates by 70% and reduce the cost to capture and maintain a customer by 50%. Add these statistics to the news that 48% of consumers believe that companies need to do a better job coordinating their online and offline experiences and you can see that the need is there. Your communication must be relevant, targeted, and engaging. And it must deftly cross the multiple channels your consumer is using.

Start small but start

The change from your current marketing to omni-channel marketing doesn’t have to be abrupt or sweeping. You can begin with just a few insights and combine a few channels. Start with a promotion that tests the omni-channel waters. Then, through patience and persistence, fold one channel after another into this practice. Soon you’ll have a personalized, responsive, contextualized and dynamic offering that will sweep these new consumers off their collective feet.

Has this philosophy been a proven path to success? You tell me. In the last six months, shares of Dominos stock has risen 50%. That’s a lot of emoji.

Setting Your Company Apart with Video Marketing

By Blog, Marketing Strategy

Big Brother Big Sister of Orange County- Watercolor ImageMarketing’s communication sphere has never been more crowed and complex than it is today. Communicating with current and potential clients takes place in numerous ways and through a variety of channels. Research has shown that there is one communications medium that far outshines the rest…video.

Video ranks higher than case studies, blog posts, webinars, and infographics when it comes to the type of materials used in both business and consumer marketing. Video has the ability to experience how a product works. When it comes to video testimonials, it allows facial expressions and voice intonations to show exactly how happy users are with your services. A video of a loyal customer touting the services offered by your company is far more effective than a paragraph of text on your website.

Video allows you to differentiate your company from others in the same industry. It’s quite likely that you offer many of the same products as your competitors, maybe even using the same equipment. However, what can set you apart is the quality of your employees.

That’s where video provides you an opportunity to highlight experienced and talented employees. A video of a quality employee instills confidence in your clientele, it “puts a face” to the company and humanizes your firm.

Video can also be used to explain a process. Years ago Schlitz Beer promoted the fact that they “steam cleaned” their bottles. The truth is every beer company steam cleaned their bottles but, because Schlitz said it first, people believed it. You can use a video to do the same thing.

Retailers like Home Depot have successfully used video to help consumers with projects around the house. For example, a video on the Home Depot YouTube channel explains how to replace a garbage disposal. Once the consumer views the videos they are more likely to purchase the needed supplies at their local Home Depot rather than another home improvement retailer.

At Westamerica we understand the power of video. We created a video for Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Orange County. In it we were able to tell a story that educated viewers on the goals of the organization and the struggle of the children that the organization is trying to save. The video helped the organization exceed their stated goal of $30,000 for the campaign.

Besides helping others, video content also improves your search rankings. YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world, next to Google. And, because Google owns YouTube, videos have a tendency to show up on first page results when potential customers are searching for a product or service.

Video on Facebook is far outpacing every other form of advertising on the platform. Due to the increase of mobile devices video has become the largest growing medium.

Video is not just for consumer marketing. Forbes reports that more than 80% of B2B, C-suite, executives are watching more online video today than they were a year ago. And these executives watch videos before making purchasing decisions. An impressive 65% of these executives visit a vendor’s website after watching a video. Forbes also found that C-suite executives are very social with more than half of senior executives sharing videos with colleagues weekly. Younger executives are also very willing to share and view videos using social media.

When you see the research and examine the statistics related to the use of video, you realize the impact that video can have in your marketing mix.

Going Mobile: Tips on reaching consumers when they’re on the go.

By Blog, Financial Marketing, Millennials, Technology

Going mobileMobile is still booming. People now spend more time on their smartphones than on their desktops and laptops combined. And the gap is widening. We are now officially past the smartphone tipping point. Now that users are in the mobile world, how do we get them into our mobile world? Here are a few tips to encourage them to download and use your mobile banking app.


Tip #1 — Keep it simple


Work with your IT team from the very beginning to make the process of downloading and using your banking app as painless as walking into one of your branches and opening up a checking account. On the other end of the process, train your in-branch team members as well as your online and telephone helpline staff on guiding your users through downloading and setting up your app.
These associates should know everything about this process just like they are expected to know everything about the other products you offer. The people jumping into a mobile banking app at this point aren’t exactly early adopters. They’ll need a little technology hand holding, and the financial institutions that do that will capture this end of the adoption bell curve.


Tip #2 — Get them watching


We all know how much it costs to process a check deposit at the branch level. If we can get our customers to utilize mobile bank deposits, we’ll be able to provide a more convenient service for a fraction of the price.


Enter video tutorials. By creating an easy-to-view, easy-to-follow video on how to deposit checks with your phone, you will send adoption rates soaring and ease up on all the time consumers spend on customer helplines.The phrase “Content is King” has run its course and is now about as trite and worn out as “You go girl”. But it became a cliche’ for a reason. And video content is the perfect way to train your new user on how to utilize their handy dandy new mobile app.


Tip #3 — Use every option


This moment is the perfect chance to leverage every marketing channel you have. When you launch an app shout it from every marketing rooftop you can find. Make sure you hit them with the formats they are most familiar with and then branch out to make a splash. After your launch, don’t abandon your promotion. Too many marketers make this mistake. Support your application with continuous marketing support.


Tip #4 — Keep it digital


By reaching out to your base with your digital channels, you’re one step closer to application download and adoption. Carve out a consistent and noticeable spot on your banking home page and use it to drive your customers to mobile. Use your social channels to promote the release of the app and then gently remind your audience of the mobile banking advantages.


Tip #5 — Don’t forget email


Recent studies have shown that 49% of all emails are now opened on mobile devices. In this particular case, your email list is very useful because email from your financial institution gets opened. Once your customers do open your email make sure it’s mobile-friendly. Also, make sure there are direct links to the most popular app stores — iTunes and Google Play. Finally, make sure you’re tagging these links for tracking and analytics.


Tip #6 — Include snail mail


Yes, as outdated as this might sound, consider the audience. Reaching the percentage of your customers who have yet to start using your mobile banking app through a more traditional form of communication makes a lot of sense. Nothing crazy or flashy is required. Something as simple as a statement stuffer might work wonders and, at the very least, be a solid reinforcement of your message. For these reasons, this traditional form of advertising still has a useful place in your campaign.


Tip #7 — The human touch


What better place than your branch to walk people through downloading and using an app? If a member of your staff can make the life of a customer easier and more convenient, you’ve hit a home run. The branch is also a great place to promote your mobile banking with signage and collateral.



To sum it all up, the best branch your customer could have may not be a branch at all. The idea of banking convenience is being redefined one smartphone at a time. Get them to use your app and you’ve deepened the relationship that leads to a customer for life.



Keeping Track — ROI measurement tools to better assess your marketing


Advertising legend has it that in 1951 many major cities began to experience a massive loss in water pressure at the same time on the same night of the week. After studying this odd phenomenon, a wise water department official soon made the connection.


It was The Lucy Show.


The red-haired comedianne was so popular that nearly the entire city was quickly going to the bathroom and flushing their collective toilets all at the same time. And tracking advertising effectiveness (or lack thereof if your commercial ran at the beginning of the break) was born.


Oh, how things have changed! Gone are the Mad Men days of throwing a message out into the vast semi-empty world and waiting with bated breath to see if sales somehow magically went up. It was a golden era when marketing wasn’t trackable and in turn, marketers weren’t completely responsible. Media buying was less about direct results and more of a “spray and pray” discipline.


Define ROI? These guys couldn’t spell ROI.


You, on the other hand, market in a world where you need to show a substantial return on nearly every dollar.


Here are five tips that will help you become a more effective marketer:

  • Plan ahead. Put measurement into your marketing plan from the start. It’s vital and will help you make many of your channel decisions. And add a channel hierarchy into your plan. When you have multiple channels working together, the analytics on each channel can be blurred. But they should be. That means that your efforts aren’t siloed. Just manage those expectations in your plan with a clear channel hierarchy.
  • Use control groups. To determine true results, you’ll need to create a control group. With the growth of multi-channel digital marketing, this can be a difficult endeavor, but it’s worth the effort. Without a control group, your results can easily be criticized. Credit for success can be given to other outside events beyond your marketing’s influence. With solid marketing planning and campaign management tools, you can create and maintain a pure control group that will in turn maintain the integrity of your results.
  • Define your metrics. To gain a more accurate measurement of your marketing be sure to define the metrics of your successes. This step seems elementary, but when the metrics aren’t well defined, marketing results can be seen as “fuzzy”. Your results, on the other hand, need to be crystal clear. Making sure your metrics are defined and well communicated to all stakeholders will get you the detailed measurements your well-spent money deserves.
  • Give credit per channel. Each channel should have its set of measurements for the simple reason that every channel is different. So make the rules different. Rolling out a campaign means that certain channels will get the credit for a first impression, and other channels may get credit for a sale. They all work together but manage the results by the different definitions of success that each different channel will have.
  • Manage and communicate the results. With all the pieces of communication going out and the massive amounts of information from your analytics coming in, it may feel like you’re trying to drink from a fire hose. Automation is the key. Leverage the many great tools out there to automate your information gathering. Then make sure your results are effectively distilled and expertly communicated.


The numbers from your findings won’t mean a lot if they can’t be properly digested. Visual representation of your results through dynamic graphs and infographics will make your results shine. They will also make your findings easier to understand.

And there you are. By creating a plan, using control groups, metrics, separation and automation you can garner effective measurement ROI for your marketing. This practice is part art and part science. The more experience you have analyzing your results, the more accurate your results will be.


The opportunities are out there. By tracking the channels that lead to a successful sale, you’ll ensure your marketing is working. By making decisions and changes based off your analytics, you’ll be able to speak to the right person at the right time with the right message.


And that is the ultimate goal of all effective marketing.




Let’s get personal – creating a unique and individualized consumer experience

By Blog, Consumer Experience, Financial Marketing

Lets Get PersonalRelevance.


If you remember one word from the next few paragraphs, remember this: relevance.

The User Experience on the Internet is tracked, and that information is used. The web, the great equalizer when it comes to information, is evolving to fit the individual. It’s an equal trade off when looking through the proper lens. Users are giving up information about themselves through their activity. In return, they are receiving information from outside sources that fit that activity. They are repaid with relevance.


As marketers, this is a vital facet of understanding our customers and creating a web experience tailored to them. These tailored experiences are quickly changing from a pleasant surprise to a user expectation.


Our privacy is our currency.


When it comes to our online lives, we are all being watched. Everything from our last purchase to how long we hovered over a photograph of a scantily-clad model is being monitored.


As awareness of this fundamental truth grows, so does concern about it. Privacy settings are made available to users who don’t want Big Brother watching so much. What is the best way to keep the access of information flowing? Be a better Big Brother. For us to have access to how that experience is being used, we need to make it useful. Make it important. Make it relevant. When that happens our customers won’t see it as being watched, they’ll see it as being listened to, and that’s something everyone wants.


Who’s doing personalization right?


When it comes to creating a cutting-edge personalized user experience, it should come as no surprise that Google leads the way. Using an innovative algorithm, Google will give different results depending on the user. For example, the term “Modern Warfare” will get different search results if the person searching is a hardcore gamer versus a history student.


Netflix, the corporation who seamlessly transitioned from a DVD rental company to a streaming entertainment giant, sees the future too. They are investing $150 million in creating a customized experience through recommendation systems. And they have hired 300 people to create fresh, humanized and relevant recommendations. Why? We will all soon grow to expect a personalized experience.


Where’s personalization headed?


Now that we’re all on our mobile devices — and checking in on everything from Facebook to Foursquare – our location behavior is being added to our online behavior. In short, we’re bringing our online world into the real world. As this behavior continues to get tracked, we will soon have our content delivered based off where both our passport and our browser history has taken us. Things are about to get real. Very real.


What can we do about it?


As marketers, the opportunity is as relevant is the phenomenon. We can deepen our brand loyalty by making sure our brand fits the lives of our customers. We brag about treating people in person as more than a number. Now we can do that with our online customer service as well.


Here are four steps to personalizing your brand:

  1. Get to know them. By using web analytics, you can discover who your customer is by finding out what they want, when they want it and now even where they want it. You can then create the world where everything is in front of them. Everything just fits. Their online experience is as effortless as their experience in your branch.
  2. Give them an incentive. Here’s a great idea to solidify your personalization reputation. Do more than a broad promotion. Do a personalized promotion. Imagine getting a discount on a financial product in which you’re already interested. Now imagine trying to resist that temptation. Say a customer gave up on a loan application. It happens; life often gets in the way. Now imagine how that customer would feel if they were offered a discount to finish their application. How great would that be? That’s deepening your online brand experience.
  3. Give them assistance. Navigating the swarm of financial products can be intimidating for even the more experienced customer. Offer up a little human help that will be more valuable than 17 pages of FAQs. Investing in a 24/7 customer service rep or even making an online chat available to your user wandering through your website could be a lifesaver.
  4. Recruit them. We live in the Recommendation Age. If you have a fan of your company, it doesn’t take much effort to turn a customer into a brand ambassador. A referral program offering them $20 for every new customer they bring in to open a checking account is a great brand building combination. You bring in new business while deepening your relationship with a current customer.

Welcome to the new world; make sure you own it.


Our world of personalization is constantly evolving. Do more than embrace it. Celebrate it. Web personalization is a great opportunity to give your customer a voice, a passion, and a reason to love your brand. The time is now to make our information and our brand relevant in their lives — one customer at a time.



Cracking the Millennial Code

By Blog, Consumer Experience, Financial Marketing

Cracking the Millennial CodeGuess what marketing strategy would get Millennials to switch to your financial institution? Go ahead. Guess. Would you need to build more branches? Hire more staff? A slew of marketing tips? Place a small army of ATMs in prime locations? Nope, nope, nope, and nope.

You’d just need to build a better app.

In a recent survey involving more than 4,000 respondents the majority said that their current mobile banking app was “lacking” (53%). They also said they would switch to a different financial institution if a better app were available. And the generation that made the majority of that majority? Millennials.

Yes, the secret to the current marketing fad de jour “Millennials” — a buzz word that has quickly surpassed “Big Data” as the next, next big thing — has been revealed. The newest and strongest demographic, now surpassing Boomers in purchasing power, can be captured and converted into new members through mobile banking.

These smartphone savvy users are also very interested in “Branchless Banking” and would be most receptive to even paying a monthly fee, in this case, $3, to use a better banking app.

The big reveal in this survey is this: for Millennials, your most important branch is their most important and most personal device, their smartphone. Creating and marketing a better mobile banking experience will enable you to tap into a demographic that is 80 million strong.

This insight presents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to endear yourself to a group that can become the coveted member-for-life at the very beginning of their banking life. Let’s dig deeper to see how this generation ticks and why they will shape the future of banking.


Your timing couldn’t be better

The age of Millennials 19-37 is the prime occasion to find and deepen a relationship with a financial institution. It is the perfect time to win loyalty for a lifetime. This generation sees technology as connective and intuitive. For many it is not the means to an end. It is the beginning, middle and end. They came of age in the internet era. As a result, they are “connected” with their peers and their institutions like no other generation. Formerly known as Generation Y or Echo Boomers, they are more diverse and more educated than any other age group before them.

And here’s the very interesting tidbit when it comes to financial products, they are buying their first homes much later in life. Meaning the opportunity to capture a mortgage bearing member is still possible even if you’ve come late to the marketing-to-Millennials game.

They really are that into you.

A fairly common misconception that has gotten way too much attention is the rumor that Millennials are into anything but finances. Recent studies have proven this rumor to be a myth. This generation craves more financial information than the others, and they’re not afraid to ask for help. As they hit more significant life stages like advancement at work, having a child and as we mentioned before, owning their first home this need will only increase.

Additionally, this generation absorbs information in a completely different way. Long blocks of text are often avoided as they have been trained to scan their information for photos, videos and bullet points. Infographics seem to be custom made for their kind of information gathering.

Cash isn’t king.

More than any other generation before them, Millennials don’t rely on cash to get through their day. When asked in a recent study about the amount of cash they carry, nearly a quarter of them say they carry less than $5 with them seven days a week. Imagine putting your marketing dollars behind a campaign touting your convenient ATMs to this market. It would be more than wasted money. You’d be spending precious dollars letting them know you are out-of-touch with them and their lives.

They think globally and bank locally.

Most financial institutions are born and raised in their local communities. Does this point of differentiation matter to this young, fast-moving generation? Absolutely. More than half of the Millennials surveyed said that working with a local financial institution was important to them. And 40% of Millennials will pay more for a service if it’s local. The reason? They see their purchases and financial choices as a way to stay connected the their communities.

What to do with them once you have them.

In summary, the key to Millennials banking-hearts is through their phones. And once you have them, make them feel connected. Stress you’re impact on the local economy. Emphasize your digital offerings and let your employees reach out to them via social networks, texting and emails. And when they’re ready to learn about your credit union and how it can affect their lives, communicate in the way they best absorb information.

The bottom line is this: as different as Millennials may seem, at their core they have more in common with other generations than you might think. They’re grounded, community-focused, and can become loyal and lifelong supporters when you correctly present them to your institution.




Where Does the Consumer Experience Stop? Where Does it Start?

By Blog, Consumer Experience, Financial Marketing

Member Experience Stop and StartToo often we think of the consumer experience in the context of our world, not in the world of our patrons. This kind of myopic thinking can lead to a bevy of misconceptions. More importantly, it can lead to a series of lost opportunities in improving consumer experience. For example, if you see your website as the beginning of your patrons’ experience, you’re missing out. The true consumer experience occurs long before they reach out to you and long after they make a product decision.

Look at it outside the lens of your financial institution.

One way to gain a little objectivity is to substitute your institution with a completely different purchase decision. For this example let’s go with the purchasing of a product instead of a service. When someone buys a car, does their journey begin on the Honda website? Doubtful.

They may not even want a Honda. Most likely, a person’s car buying experience begins months, sometimes years before they sign on the dotted line, get their keys and drive off the lot. They’ll ask their friends. They’ll read reviews. They’ll try their best to recall the wide array of print ads, billboards and commercials they’ve seen. Consciously or not Honda has made an impression.

Time is a very valuable commodity in the consumer experience

If and only if the car maker has gone from the consideration set to the small group of purchase possibilities, will a person spend their valuable time on the Honda website. And this is very, very valuable time. When a car purchase goes on your plate, the rest of the world doesn’t stop spinning. No matter if you’re a prince, or a pauper everyone is time poor. And a car purchase has the sense of urgency that switching financial institutions doesn’t. When shaping your vital touch points in your patron’s experience, respect their time. If you don’t, you may not get it.

Broaden your perspective and broaden your possibilities.

As we’ve touched on, what too many marketers see as the beginning of the consumer journey is actually the mid-way point of their experience. Imagine all the possible opportunities available to you when your viewpoint on this consumer journey shifts to a larger perspective. With this approach, your social media strategy may jump up the list of your marketing priorities. Managing your reputation on sites like Yelp or Angie’s List suddenly takes on greater importance. Everything from a buck slip to a billboard could change when you look at the complete consumer journey.

What many think of as the end, is only the beginning

Let’s continue with this car analogy. For the sake time, since we’ve established how very important that is, let’s skip to the post-purchase experience. Is that the end? Will this person ever have contact with Honda again? We all know that answer. So why do we make the mistake of seeing the home loan consumer experience, for example, as having an ending when they sign on the bottom line? When we do, we miss out on the chance of turning a member into an advocate.

We live in a recommendation culture.

Opinions have always been prevalent. Now, they can be broadcast in countless ways by multiple channels. People feel as strongly about their car as they do their financial institutions. Do more than give consumer reasons to sing your praises. Give them opportunities. Follow up after the purchase. Ask them their opinion and them give them the chance to broadcast their happiness to their friends and family. The tools are at their fingertips. All we have to do is nudge them into a recommendation.

The best way to map out a journey? A map’s a good start.

Now that we have a larger perspective on our patron’s true and complete experience, what do we do with it? The truth is, this is where the fun begins. You can use your marketing intuition and experience to map out various touch-point opportunities. You can also augment those ideas with a service like Moment Mapping. Designed to help you create a robust, complete and engaging consumer experience, this service also adds a nice array of complimentary options that will make your institution shine. The result? New and current consumers will head into the world to tell everyone how great their experience — their complete experience — has been.




Same Banking Services, Fewer Pixels

By Blog, Technology

mobile BankingA wise man once said, “Today is so yesterday.” In the ever-changing world of technology, those words couldn’t be truer. In this arena, the only constant is change. Compared to other historic changes in the banking business, the rise of online banking happened at near breakneck speed. If those rapid adaptations made your head spin, pop some Dramamine and get ready for the wild ride that is mobile banking and mobile banking apps.

It is the future. And at the risk of trotting out a tired cliché, the future is now. The rise of the smartphone has lead to the rise of the smartphone lifestyle. By the end of 2014, 85 percent of Millennials aged 18 to 24 owned mobile devices. And chances are the other 15 percent were in lines outside various Apple stores to buy one. For the new and emerging demographic, mobile banking is not a nice benefit. It’s a necessity. Currently, 70% of millennial see mobile banking as a priority when handling their finances. And they are not alone. Every study shows the other generations are close behind in mobile usage and mobile banking.

Convenience has been redefined.

For years, convenience to consumers meant more hours, more locations, and more ATMs. Oh, how that has changed! Today, convenience means free online banking, mobile banking apps and most recently, mobile bank deposits. Soon all generations of consumers may go weeks, months, even years without stepping into a traditional branch.

Customer service has been redefined

So how do we serve consumers who don’t require face-to-face contact? Easy. We make their online, connected experience as pleasant and fulfilling as their traditional branch experience. Technology is meant to serve a purpose. In this context, it’s also meant to deepen your relationship with your patrons. Of course that’s easy to say in a blog; it’s much more difficult in practice. Even the largest international financial institutions are struggling with delivering what their customers want while still maintaining security. Finalizing a home loan online is a tad more complicated than say, buying a t-shirt.

Speed vs. security

Recent studies have revealed that nearly 50 percent of banking apps are vulnerable to hacking. Protecting our patrons while serving them online will be a constant balancing act. Fortunately, mobile banking will provide some solutions along with these added threats. Namely, the advent of fingerprint authentication. While not available on all smartphones, this solution could be the closest thing to the security/speed silver bullet many financial institutions are seeking. That being said, as every new security solution presents itself a new more sophisticated way of hacking that solution will appear. The trick here is to stay ahead of the security curve and offer your members the latest options available while still being fast, easy and seamless. It’s an ongoing investment, but it will pay off in the long run by keeping your patrons happy and secure, positioning your institution as a vital facet of their financial lives.

Net neutrality is a game changer

In the app world, speed is king. Studies have shown that nearly half of app users will abandon an app if it takes more than three seconds to load. Three seconds. The time it has taken you to read the last few sentences. Because of the latest net neutrality ruling we can’t pay for the added bandwidth that would translate into added speed. Internet and app access is now a utility. Our best response to this change is app optimization. Our mobile banking apps will need to be lean and nimble to survive in the current mobile-friendly, attention span deprived, need-it-now environment that consumers occupy.

Split the bill lickety split.

A great test of a robust mobile banking app is its ability to share payments. While not the newest thing to come along in mobile conveniences, the speed and ease in which your members can send money to others has become a priority. By leveraging a real-time EFT network solution, your app user won’t have to wait hours or even days for transactions to clear. It’s the perfect example of a service meets user expectations. It’s quick. It’s secure. And most importantly to consumers, it’s wonderfully effortless.

We’re still in the service business.

No matter what the next change will be, one thing hasn’t changed. We’re here to serve our patrons. Through pixels or people, we will continue to make them happy. Be it a branch or an app, our patrons will always need to do more than balance checks and bill payment. They will always need solid advice and help to navigate the next stage in their financial lives. Our technology should be robust enough to deliver this deeper need.

In the end, an app should be an experience, a natural extension of your highly respected and highly reliable member service.