Community banking, believe it or not, has an awful lot to do with "community." (That seems to check out, right?) As such, your efforts to engage with the communities you serve can be critical to the success of your bank's bottom line. In fact, 82 percent of American consumers select brands to do business with based on said brands' community and social responsibility.

Here's how your bank can make the most of a community-engagement strategy.

Share Your Expertise

The most natural and authentic way your bank's team can make the most of community engagement is through sharing what you do best—managing finances. Put yourselves out there—offer financial education to a variety of age groups in comfortable and approachable settings. This includes group events and the opportunity for one-on-one sessions. And take it outside your brick-and-mortar branches. Host events in public spaces or at businesses that bank with you. Just make sure to make it no-strings-attached—don't charge for it or even push your products too aggressively. This strategy not only sets you up to build relationships with new customers, but it also makes for an excellent PR moment.

Focus Your Efforts

While it can be tempting to take a scattershot approach to your community engagement strategy, being all things to all people won't necessarily endear your brand to consumers en masse. Take a look at your bank's mission—are there charitable organizations or community service efforts that would make particular sense with said mission? Focus on just a couple of core "give-back" opportunities, go full-force and tell that story through your content. Bank brands that showcase themselves as more mission-driven stand for something—and a majority of consumers value that in companies they patronize.

Localize When Possible

Whether you're situated in a single city or have branches across an entire region, what works for one community branch might not work for another. So rather than nationalizing your give-back efforts across all branches, let your ground-level teams determine highly localized ways they can display their community engagement. A branch in a major city may find an opportunity to live out an education-focused mission by donating time and money to under-funded schools—while a rural branch from the same bank might connect with a group that teaches children environmentally friendly farming practices. Your most authentic community representation comes from showing how well you personally know the communities you serve.

Promote Your Promoters

Much of your major bank business is likely coming from commercial clients. And you have one major thing in common—you're both trying to promote your respective businesses. So partner with some of your most engaged, most bought-in commercial clients to provide testimonials, guest blogs or other content for each other's web presences and social channels. And when you host customer-appreciation or other bank events, call on your roster of existing clients to help provide space, materials, humanpower first before resorting to third-party vendors. If you engage with your business banking clients to spread positive word of mouth, they'll return the favor.

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Source: Cone Communications