Selling business banking products and services can often take a backseat to the engine of personal checking and savings offerings for FIs. Through our partnership with the American Banking Association (ABA), we’ve been taking a look at the B2B banking landscape, innovative marketing strategies and how the two come together to drive business impact for community banks.

These are some principles to help you and your team bring in better opportunities to create lasting relationships with your commercial customers.

Be where they are

Community FIs have an enormous opportunity to capitalize on attention. Being where your business customers are, both physically and digitally, manifests your accessible and convenient  service that’s becoming standard business practice in retail commerce environments. Community activities, such as regional entrepreneurs and/or start-up organizations, offer context to your services and opportunities for your brand. Those individuals are interested in starting and expanding their young businesses, so who better to be a part of their networks than their friendly, neighborhood loan officer? 

Digitally speaking, having a strategy that caters to commonly asked questions, challenges and hang-ups of businesses and creating pieces of content to answer these will allow you to position yourself as a trusted resource. Ensure your web and online properties, such as social profiles, are all well-kept and that an appointed person or people are available to field service needs as they come in through these channels.

Take Chances

Risk—not a word with much positive association in the finance space. However, when it comes to marketing and selling products to businesses, you can loosen your tie a little bit, Dave. Taking a risk or two with how you're messaging and positioning value to businesses can allow your FI to  differentiate in the "sea of sameness" that many retail banking brands drown in. Provide value upfront, and offer something for free. A lower-tier or value-added service offered as a "starter" or "lite" version of what your full-service offering could do—it gives the "subscription generation" a feeling of freedom and brand trust by being able to try or test a product or service you offer before taking the plunge.

Bank messaging isn’t always the most compelling or attractive by its very nature—that is, unless you’ve been to an ABA conference and have seen the annual Bank Video Awards. Banks like Cornerstone Bank use a brand voice to tell authentic stories that differentiate themselves, while still articulating the benefit to their end customers. We used a similar creative strategy to support our finance industry clients Voyage Federal Credit Union and South Dakota Housing Development Authority (SDHDA), bringing an approachable and fresh brand voice to support each one's annual lending campaigns. Check out our recently W3 Award-winning SDHDA web series below.

Upgrade

Upgrading doesn’t always mean completely redesigning your branch or website (though it can sometimes help). Including upgrades such as how you manage and offer optimizations for your customers in branches, on their mobile devices and face to face is important as you and your team plan for growth. Look at your B2B interfaces online and in-app—68 percent of millennial business owners are conducting business operations on smartphones. It's imperative that your mobile banking app is addressing your commercial customers. Millennials and Gen-Z are more entrepreneurial than any previous generations and will be your FI's next base of business.

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