Community Bank Advertising

Article excerpt

In This Series

This article introduces the first of a three-part series on

advertising for community banks.

This Month: Planning an advertising campaign.

October: Managing advertising production.

November: Media placement.

Steps to ensure your advertising

planning endeavors run smoothly

Advertising can be a somewhat frustrating task for community bankers. For those who deal in the exact practice of numbers, it sometimes seems like a trip to the Las Vegas slot machines-throw your money in, pull the handle, and hope for a good return. While there's no exact formula to predict the outcome of your efforts, advertising doesn't have to mean gambling your bank's budget. Thorough planning around business objectives is the key to a successful campaign and one that assures good results.

But how does one create an advertising plan? In this issue, we gain information from advertising experts Brantley Davis of Davis & Co., John Kessell of RPI Marketing Communications and Patrice Wallace of Innovations, an advertising and public relations firm, on how to best conduct the planning process.

Though many use the terms advertising and marketing interchangeably, advertising is actually a smaller piece of the marketing function and is defined as "calling public attention to, especially by emphasizing desirable qualities so as to arouse a desire to buy" in Merriam Webster's Dictionary. More simply put by advertising guru Leo Burnett, "Advertising says to people, 'Here's what we've got. Here's what it will do for you. Here's how to get it.'"

For community banks then, advertising is simply a way to communicate to the community what your bank has to offer and why someone would want to do business there. Advertising is part of the larger business process that, when it works most effectively, complements all of its other components.

Setting Goals

"Banks tend to overcomplicate advertising when it is really just common sense," says Davis, general manager at Davis & Co. in Washington, D.C. "Advertising needs to be planned around a bank's business objectives. If everything is decided around these, then advertising efforts will be directed and successful."

Just as a bank plans its budget, its staff, and its location around its business goals, so too should advertising plans center on what your bank wants to accomplish. Is it gaining new customers? Getting current customers to purchase new products? Doing business with a new segment in the community? Effective advertising methods change drastically depending on the goal.

An important part of the goal-setting process is defining specific and focused objectives. According to Wallace, president and CEO of Innovations in Baltimore, Md., the key to satisfaction with advertising efforts comes when banks set measurable goals. "Seeing a return is easier when the results can be measured," she says. "For example, if you run a promotion that drives deposits, you can make comparisons fiscally, year-to-- date or monthly." The more targeted the objective, the easier it is to determine results.

Developing a Budget

Once a set of goals for advertising is firmly in place, your bank should plan its spending around these goals. Fiscal limitations may cause a bank to refine its original objectives, but it is important that the budget follow the objectives and not vice versa. Organizations use a fixed percentage of their budget for advertising; others choose to use whatever remains after all other functions are completed, thus tending to advertise without a true sense of direction.

While your bank may have an inflexible spending limit, the process of basing a budget on objectives is crucial, otherwise advertising placements will not be directed and may be a waste of money. "Very few businesses understand that advertising is an important means for communicating the company's products and services to its consumers," says Wallace. …