Differentiating in Community Banking

WHERE EVERYONE KNOWS YOUR NAME By Ben Pankonin, Founder & CEO, Social Assurance

I get the chance to work with community and regional bankers from across the country who often question why we invest so much into social and digital marketing when local contact is part of what differentiates them from the top 5 banks. The short answer is simple. I live in Lincoln, Nebraska, one of the friendliest places on the planet, a place where I know my neighbors, and a place where my neighbors text me or message me on Facebook rather than knocking on my front door. As community banks learn to exploit advantages, often the

defense is, “we know our customer’s names.” It’s true: this should be a major differentiator, in a place where we can still know our customers names. As we talked during our workshop at the MIB Community

Banking Conference in Lincoln, Nebraska, participants shared ex- amples of products that we love. Nearly every example of products that we have grown to love was brought to us by someone we knew. It shouldn’t surprise us that the products we love came as referrals, whether it was a Netflix series or the latest household cleaner. But how do we amplify the effect of referrals in an age

of social media?

 Be unique. Sure, you are a community bank, but find ways to talk about your involvement in the community that customers remember. Double-down on those events, non-profits and activities that make your involvement special.

 Amplify Your Message. Part of knowing how to get great referrals is to remind people close to your bank about how special you are. Getting the people who advocate for your bank’s brand to remember you frequently and share with their friends online and offline. In today’s economy, being top of mind has to involve an online strategy.

 Advertise. As you start out in social and online marketing, it’s easy to simply say that it is all about people knowing your brand. But dropping a little money to spread that message goes a long way. Even a $100 boost to some online posts can get thousands of online views.

As we continue to move the needle in the increasingly competitive space of community banking, social and online tools allow us unique opportunities to reach our communities better. Trust begins with people. As more and more fintech companies sprout up, we need to make sure we have competitive tools combined with marketing and service that make us more resilient than ever.


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