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Bank marketing tips from a pro

August 13, 2012
Read Time: 0 min

For financial institutions looking to improve efficiency and profitability, credit risk management is critical. However, equally important is how to market the institution the right way. Guest columnist Lauren O’Connell, president of O’Connell Consulting Group, discusses some ways to help banks grow their business.



Nine P’s of bank marketing

Are you, like many bankers, thinking you may need to do something different for your bank’s marketing, but not sure what it is?

About 30 years ago, there were four components universally acknowledged to be the foundation of marketing: Product, Price, Place (distribution), and Promotion. We called them the four P’s.

Guess what – the marketing scientists got busy and discovered more P’s. A lot more P’s. I read an article claiming there were now 27 P’s – yep, you read that right – with potentially more on the way. It’s all because of changes in the way we experience the world and how much wider our world has become as a result. In this new age, the customer is in control and not afraid to let you know it.

What that means is you now have to go above and beyond and work harder to be relevant. Marketing is no longer catchy slogans and plush toy giveaways. Now it’s about making sure that every element of the customer experience is aligned so the expectations you create match the actual experience of your customers – at every touch point.

Don’t worry – I think the basic four P’s are still the place to start and 27 are really over the top. So here are my votes for the next set of marketing P’s for bankers:

P #5: Purchaser. The center of your marketing efforts should be defining your target customer, the segment of the population and/or business community that you want to gain and keep as customers.    

P #6: People. A superior customer experience comes down to your employees, the people you have interacting with customers. Are they smart, professional and pleasant, and can they really help your customers?  And while you’re hiring and training the right people, don’t overlook how you motivate them. It’s a basic tenet of psychology that you get the action you reward – so if you’re rewarding for xxxxx, don’t expect yyyyy.

P #7: Process. What do you make customers go through to open an account or fix a problem?  Is it easy and painless, transparent and self-evident, or do they need an instruction manual?  If they call you, how long does it take to reach the person who can actually help them, and how many recorded messages do they have to listen to first?  Your customer is busy and they want a simple process to get answers and help.

The “simple is good” mantra also applies to your employees. If it’s torture to set up a new product or service, they’ll find ways not to sell it.

P #8: Positioning. It’s your brand, your reputation, what you’re known for. In this brave new world, nobody can be all things to all people. Being equally good at everything means not being very good at anything. So you have to stake out a market niche and then meet those people’s needs very, very well.

To determine the strategic position for your bank, finish this sentence the way your customers would:  My bank is the bank that ….

If you answered, “provides friendly service” – which is what many of your competitors say – then yikes!  You should consider some marketing intervention to clarify what that means to your customers as well as make sure you are actually delivering on this promise. Or better yet, get help to develop a stronger and more unique message for your most important Purchasers – your 5th P.

P #9: Purpose. Why are you doing what you’re doing and what messages are you communicating about why you are in business? What do your employees think is most important? For many of you it could be survival in these challenging times, but is that the message you really want your customers to hear? 

So that’s my vote for the Nine P‘s of Bank Marketing. Let me know what you think, or if you would like to discuss how to improve the effectiveness of your marketing P’s. 

Lauren O’Connell is a Denver, Colorado-based bank consultant who specializes in developing customized marketing and communications solutions for financial institutions to help them acquire new and profitable customers, retain and cross sell existing customers, and build effective product suites. She can be reached directly at [email protected] or 303-795-3539. You can visit her website at and read her blog at

About the Author


Raleigh, N.C.-based Sageworks, a leading provider of lending, credit risk, and portfolio risk software that enables banks and credit unions to efficiently grow and improve the borrower experience, was founded in 1998. Using its platform, Sageworks analyzed over 11.5 million loans, aggregated the corresponding loan data, and created the largest

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