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If 75% of a community bank’s revenue comes from small business customers, why not target more marketing at small businesses? Why not indeed. Marketing can and should support business banking. Here’s a handful of sure-fire ways to do it, along with a little candy.

* Allocate enough marketing resources to more closely align with that 75% revenue figure.

* Make sure relationship managers (RMs) are all-star performers, and empower them to succeed.

* Recognize what drives customers’ perceptions of an all-star performance. Companies asked to rate their banker (RM), say overwhelmingly that, “promptly follows up on my requests” is their number one criterion. Make sure RMs say what they’ll do and do what they say. Simple, yes. Easy, no.

* Develop expertise in the customer’s industry. Again, the RMs and their team members should not only learn the customer’s business, but also become known in that industry. They need to be seen by industry insiders as people who “get it done” and who are quoted in the press as experts in their industry. Again, not easy. But what a great way to break free from the pinstriped herd.

* Position the business banker as a trusted advisor within small business owners’ “circles of influence.” Yes, that means sowing referral seeds with business attorneys and accountants. But even more importantly, the RM wants to bring into the circle other business owners, peers of their customers, and friends and colleagues who also manage businesses. Becoming known as a problem solver for companies making tough decisions is the best single way for the RM to be seen as the go-to trusted advisor. The key is to make all those customers potential referrers of new customers to the bank—to have those folks want to help their friends and associates by recommending the bank to them. A testimonial, such as, “Bank B works for me; I think you should see what they can do for you,” is best delivered and well received by a peer or friend who’s walked a mile in a business owner’s shoes.

 

Last but not least, be sure to sweeten the deal by offering the business customer an incentive/reward for their personal business. Studies show that customer retention (sometimes called “stickiness”) and profitability rise dramatically when the bank holds both the business and personal banking relationships.

 

Sweet and sticky. Like candy. Who doesn’t like candy?

 

Written by Steve Johnson, Managing Partner

Note: Some of this material comes from the Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA),via Riger’s membership in the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4As).