Can You Hear Me Now?

By Marlin, Brenda | ABA Bank Marketing, May 2007 | Go to article overview

Can You Hear Me Now?


Marlin, Brenda, ABA Bank Marketing


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In the past, when a bank wanted to advertise, it either printed an ad in the newspaper or broadcast a spot on a local radio station. No more. Today, the pool of both periodical readers and radio listeners has declined. If a bank intends to reach its target audience, it needs to supplement its traditional advertising with new media.

Since the Internet channel is growing so fast, it's not surprising that many of the new advertising possibilities are online--podcasts, blogs, YouTube, social networking sites, RSS feeds (Real Simple Syndication). But there are also new twists on old media. For example, instead of a simple outdoor billboard ad, banks are doing things like "wrapping" advertising messages around buses, subway cars or automobiles. They are also finding new ways to promote themselves through enhanced community and charitable events.

We recently asked bank marketers from around the country to tell us about some of the new media they are using or experimenting with in the ongoing effort to improve communication with their audience. Their stories follow.

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Podcasts and Text Messages

Mary Wilkerson, CFMP

Vice President, Marketing

Boone County National Bank

Assets: $1 Billion

Boone Co., Mo

About a year ago, the bank was searching for a new media channel. Its target audience is young people who are early adopters of new technology. Could the bank sponsor a podcast of a homebuying seminar? No one was aware of any existing podcasts in the community.

One day during a routine conversation with the local National Public Radio (NPR) station, a representative of the bank expressed the institution's interest in podcasting. The NPR person replied the station was planning to introduce podcasting within a couple of months. "We immediately said that we wanted to be a part of what they did," explains Wilkerson.

The NPR station currently makes audio versions of its programs available on its website. Listeners who want to download the program to their computer or MP3 go to the website. Boone County National Bank has a banner ad on the website explaining that the podcast service is sponsored by the bank. In addition, when the listener plays back the audio, it stars with the words, "This podcast is brought to you by Boone County National Bank."

Since at the time neither the radio station or the bank knew how popular the podcasts would be, the bank was able to lock in a long-term advertising contract at what Wilkerson calls "unbelievable prices."

The new media channel turned out to be a hit. The podcasts have drawn a big audience--four times the volume of what the radio station originally anticipated. The bank is pleased enough that it is shifting money from its radio broadcast budget into its podcast sponsorship budget. "We have no idea whether it is doing us any good," Wilkerson concedes. "But the demographics are right. We are reaching the audience we are interested in."

Within the last few months, the bank added sponsorship of a text messaging system directed at parents as well as teachers and principals connected with the local public school system. Under the system, parents who are interested in receiving text message "alerts" on their cellular telephone go to the school system's website to sign up. There, they see a banner ad explaining that the text messaging system is sponsored by Boone County Bank. Each text message includes wording explaining that the service is sponsored by the bank.

"This was a great opportunity for us to get into the schools and to easily put our name in front of those folks that we are interested in," says Wilkerson.

When thinking through all the options available today for marketers, banks need to consider what types of traditional media they are using and the market they want to reach, Wilkerson believes. …

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