Pub. 2 2022 Issue 3


President’s Message: Marketing and Business Development

Why focus on marketing and business development?

New business is the lifeblood of every bank. We are always losing clients through life cycle events if for no other reason. Without replacing clients and expanding existing relationships, we would be out of business in no time.

What do you mean: marketing and business development?

My marketing professors at William Jewell College and Rockhurst College beat into me that all activities a business does to promote and sell products and services are marketing. Do you remember the four Ps? Product, price, place, and promotion.

“Indeed” defines business development as the identification of long-term methods to increase value through the development of relationships, markets, and customers.

Marketing Banks

As a bank, we do not have tangible products to sell. We are trying to convince consumers and businesses to trust us with their money. We must also make them feel like they are getting a fair value.
So how do we set our bank apart?

Traditional Community Banking Methods


  1. Word of Mouth
    Word of mouth is still the best advertising. Recent surveys have shown that 81% of the respondents would trust a recommendation from a friend.

    How do you ensure your clients are referring your bank to potential clients? Do you ask them to refer people to you? Do you incent them in any way? Do you even know what your clients think of your bank? Avannis is an ICBA Preferred Service Provider that can help you survey your clients at a reasonable cost. We have used them for several years. You can use the feedback to reinforce associates who provide great service, and you can use it to improve areas where your clients feel improvement is needed.

  2. Affinity Marketing
    Affinity marketing is a wonderful way to tie into a community. We can tie in with high school, college or professional teams through sponsorships, advertising, or other methods to help become a part of the group.
  3. Referrals From Within the Bank
    Do you incent your associates to refer business to other areas of the bank? If not, is it because that is “just doing their job to do so?” Would it hurt to offer $10 cash incentives to refer clients to your financial services representative? Or $50 or $100 for helping get a loan application?

    We have used referral fees for years. In all honesty, while the money helps, the key benefit is the recognition that goes with giving the money away at our monthly staff meeting. It promotes competition, and the money is a visible way to help keep score.

  4. Giveaways
    Many of you are too young to remember when we used to give away free toasters or dishes when you opened a new account. It became a running joke, but it worked. It gave us a way to set our banks apart in a tangible way. We continued to do periodic promotions offering gifts with new account openings until the last 10 – 15 years. The costs of the gifts we were giving away became too expensive over time.

    We see several larger banks and credit unions in our market offering cash incentives to encourage people to open checking accounts. They must be weighing the lifetime value of the relationship against the cash incentive being offered.

  5. Networking
    All of us are hopefully involved in some type of networking to generate new business for our banks. Participating in the chamber of commerce, Rotary, Kiwanis, Optimist, a networking club, etc., is a fantastic way to make contacts. At the end of the day, we all prefer to do business with someone we know and trust. These activities promote building relationships over time.
  6. Cross-selling
    Do you all measure the number of products and services you sell to a client when they come in to open a new account? This tracking process can get out of hand, but there is value in knowing whether you have order takers or associates who know how to ask questions to learn how we can best meet our clients’ needs.

    “Stop selling and start serving” is a phrase I like to use when people push back on tracking the products and services our clients purchase from us. If we only focus on meeting our clients’ needs, how can we go wrong trying to be the bank that meets those needs?

  7. Product Bundling
    Bundling products is nothing new. It is an old strategy that is now back in vogue. Giving clients an incentive to tie a checking and savings product makes the relationship much stickier.

Some Maybe-Non-Traditional-Community-Banking Ways to Set Our Bank Apart

  1. Direct mail
    There is no better way to target people who should be our best prospects. It is proven that offering a compelling offer and targeting folks who are like our existing clients is a long-term winning technique. The drawback is that it is expensive.

    Using “pre-approvals” as a part of your direct mail campaign can improve results. Consult with your compliance officer, but “pre-approval” does not mean what you think.

  2. Using technology
    Many of us are not attracting as many young clients as we would like. Using technology to attract and retain the younger generations can help change this trend. Younger people tend to be focused on convenience. They want to do business when they want, and online options meet their expectations.

    Are you opening new accounts online? If not, why aren’t you? Are you lending money online? If not, is it because you do not have the expertise? Have you considered teaming up with a fintech? ICBA can help you find a partner that might be a good fit through their ongoing programs.

  3. Social Media
    Gone are the days of relying on local newspapers to get your message out. Using social media to keep your brand and product and service offerings in front of clients and potential clients is cost-effective and very personal if done correctly. Again, if you do not have the expertise to do this in-house, finding someone to help you is not cost-prohibitive.
  4. Working With Other Banks to Share Costs and Expertise
    I know it is hard for us to agree on almost anything, but sharing a fractional Chief Marketing Officer or working together to hire a firm to help market our banks just makes too much sense to ignore. Many of us do not compete directly and we have shared challenges and goals. Let us work together and accomplish more.


All of us have a marketing and business development plan in place whether it is in writing or not. Is it time to consider a few new tools to add to the mix to keep moving forward? If we do not continually evolve, we will eventually be unable to generate an acceptable return on investment.