Tying It All Together

August 9, 2016

A major financial institution steps up to a fully integrated marketing strategy that speaks to its customers wherever they are.

By Liberty Kontranowski

In the financial institution world, providing value to your customers is what keeps them around for the long haul. However, customers are barraged near daily with messages from competing banks and credit unions, and their attention can shift quickly and easily. Motivating individuals to join and stay with you begins with earning their trust—trust that your financial institution can help them to live their best lives now while also planning for the future.

Independent Bank, a 150-year-old bank with branches throughout Michigan, understood the importance of delivering such a message to its customers and added integrated marketing to its very lengthy business-branding to-do list. But presenting a unified message to multiple key audience segments through various touch points was daunting. With a relatively small on-staff marketing team and a lot of messaging to disperse to different audiences, Independent Bank’s need for assistance became apparent. That’s when the bank’s partnership with The F.P. Horak Company began.

THE BACKGROUND

With over a century and a half of experience, Independent Bank knew a thing or two about relating to its customers. But the information-consumption habits of its customers— and the information being sought—has evolved. Email marketing has become as important as direct mail marketing. Short video clips are now a relevant means of reaching consumers. And marketing collateral has to stand out even more than before because it’s now competing with both print and digital counterparts.

What’s more, the customer’s location within the sales funnel directly affects the type of information that the customer is likely to seek—and act upon. In order to make the greatest impact, Independent Bank needed to expand its reach, focus its messages, and capture its audiences’ attention wherever they were, whenever they were there.

THE PROBLEM

As apparent as the need for integrated marketing became to Independent Bank, asking a small marketing staff to conceptualize, produce, schedule, and launch the new content and initiatives wasn’t feasible. And without a clear plan and a one-person point of contact in place, the bank ran the risk of not marketing enough to one customer segment and over-marketing to another. Even more challenging was the concept of leveraging the new components across multiple marketing channels. (How can an e-newsletter drive traffic to the bank’s website blog? Which financial literacy topics could introduce a video series that would cross-sell products to existing customers? Which types of marketing collateral would have the most impact and result in new customer conversion?) Add in multiple key audience segments, all at various stages of the sales funnel, and the waters get muddy very quickly. The task, no matter how necessary, seemed insurmountable.

THE SOLUTION

After a needs-assessment conversation between Tricia Raquepaw, vice president and director of marketing at Independent Bank, and Marisa Horak Belotti, chief strategy officer at The F.P. Horak Company, a seemingly perfect solution emerged: to use F.P. Horak’s team of highly experienced marketing communications professionals to bring the bank’s overall marketing objectives to life. The bank could establish itself as a thought leader among financial institutions and solidify its credibility with customers, current and future, through a unified message delivered across multiple channels and touch points.

Having one marketing services point of contact (at F.P. Horak) would free Raquepaw from managing day-to-day integrated marketing tasks. Instead of fretting over blog posts, Raquepaw and her own team could focus on bigger picture opportunities such as community involvement and larger bank products/services campaigns.

“This is a huge tool for smaller marketing teams,” says Raquepaw. “This (integrated marketing) is what we had envisioned. We just hadn’t had time to pull it all together.”

THE RESULTS

With short- and long-term marketing campaigns and promotions strategies—including written content and social media, a video series, savings initiatives for youths, onboarding and re-boarding campaigns, and financial literacy awareness programs—now planned in partnership with F.P. Horak, Raquepaw looks forward to what she calls “a growth year.”

Indeed, the growth is already happening. In the short time that F.P. Horak has managed Independent Bank’s integrated marketing strategy, unique visitors to the bank’s new website content blog have increased by over 500 percent, and the emails the bank sends to customers and prospects have seen an email open rate increase of 36 percent.

“Our goal is to make our customers actually want to receive a contact from us,” says Raquepaw. With tailored content and marketing promotions that speak directly to the audiences’ concerns and goals, Independent Bank’s clients will no doubt become more engaged than ever—and that long-term relationship will only grow stronger.