Financial institutions have a lot of tried-and-true marketing tools at their disposal. Loyalty programs still work—what once was the free toaster with a new account opening is now points and rewards for debit card swipes. The drive-up window continues to be a useful branch presence. And, hey—offering a customer a free cup of coffee never hurts.
But there are a few tactics to which banks and credit unions continue to cling that it might be time to give up. Here are four of them.
It's a cold, hard truth that traveler's checks just aren't used anymore. Sure, there are the handful of one-off customers who insist on them for their annual summer vacations, but the truth is, use of traveler's checks is at its lowest level since before the 1980s.
Upgrade: Start getting your customers of all ages used to the idea of secure, prepaid travel cards or EMV chip cards for added safety when abroad. They're near-universally accepted worldwide and can typically be used at ATMs to obtain the local currency.
Think for a moment about the amount of money your institution spends on paper in a given month. Subtract paper statements from the equation, and that number significantly drops. Most institutions have adopted an opt-in/opt-out scenario for e-statements, but the number of people who prefer a pile of envelopes in their mailboxes to electronic communication is waning rapidly.
Upgrade: You may not be able to go completely green and do away with paper statements all together without rattling some groups of customers, so at least make sure your default setting is paper-free, with an opportunity to opt in for paper when applicable, rather than the other way around.
With the constantly changing nature of interest rates and market fluctuation, the old standard brochure rack in the middle of the lobby can be more of a burden than a plus at times. By the time you go through the trouble of printing, folding and restocking brochures, they're already outdated and out of compliance.
Upgrade: Go digital. Whether you're pulling up brochures on monitors or tablets in your branch or distributing them electronically to your customers' computers and smartphones, you have a library of marketing collateral that can be quickly and easily updated without the aggravating reprinting costs.
Branch hours come pretty standard across the board—most open at 8 a.m., and most close by 5 p.m. The trouble is, your customer base shouldn't have to arrive late or leave work early just to conduct an in-branch transaction or account opening. And on top of that, other web-based financial-service providers are offering evening service as healthy competition.
Upgrade: Consider offering branch hours at least once or twice a week past 5 p.m., by an hour or two. Or if the overhead is too much to handle, at least offer phone-based customer service past the five o'clock cutoff to keep from alienating an 8-to-5 workforce.
Don't fear change. "Out with the old" can be impactful and positive for your branch foot traffic and customer growth. Don't let your old marketing techniques collect dust—give them the heave-ho and try something new on for size, at your own speed.