Leave Traditional Advertising to the Mad Men

Roxanne Emmerich shares her approach on how to attract the best customers to your bank:

I get a kick out of watching Mad Men. There’s something captivating about being transported to another time like that.

Slightly less fun is the feeling I get when I see banks in the real world and the present day throwing money away on traditional advertising like it’s 1965.

You know the game. You go to an ad agency. They come up with a slogan. You run it. Nothing happens. They say, “Just wait; it takes time.” And you wait…and wait…and wait…

It’s enough to make you a mad man (or woman) in a whole new way. And it’s gonna take a lot of three-martini lunches before you forget THAT waste of time and money.

Instead of throwing good dollars at what worked in the Johnson administration, understand where your best return on investment comes from and focus your advertising dollars there. Regardless of your firm’s size or specialty, you have three main funnels for marketing leads: advertising, customer and center of influence referrals, and employee ambassadorships.

Unfortunately, most CEOs spend up to 70 percent of their marketing funds on advertising—the area with the lowest return of the three—while spending very little on their existing customers and virtually nothing on teaching their employees to be ambassadors and penetrate accounts.

To correct this disparity, start by slashing your advertising budget drastically. While many ad agencies are capable of creating flashy and beautiful ads, they have little understanding of how to boost your sales. As a result, the campaigns do a great job of stroking egos, yet little to sell financial services. If ego were the only thing that mattered, then by all means continue. However, if the bottom line is the real issue, then now is when you need to redirect those dollars.

To make matters worse, many CEOs claim that the intent of their ad campaign is to build a brand. Good intention! Unfortunately, it’s almost always horribly executed. When asked, “What is the brand for your bank?” almost every CEO will respond, “Customer service!” What they don’t understand is that customer service is NOT a brand. It’s a mandatory element. It has nothing to do with brand, as Al Ries so aptly points out in The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding.

Smart marketers clarify their story and invest marketing efforts toward existing clients and employees. The result is increased sales and referrals where the return is higher and the results are quicker.

Suddenly you’re not so mad anymore.


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