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By Stephanie Wang

With 1700 regional bank branches shutting down this year and deposits declining in 10 out of the top 22 regional banks, the fight for client deposits is becoming increasingly competitive. Additionally, regional banks are at a competitive disadvantage with the largest three US banks, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and JPMorgan Chase. These three firms have multinational branch systems and innovative mobile apps. They far outweigh regional banks in convenience, an important factor for people when they choose which bank to work with. Their geographic footprint and in-hand convenience show in 2016-17 numbers: they added a total of $118 billion in deposits in 2017.

Attracting client deposits is hard due to historically low interest rates and the variety of attractive alternative investments. The Fed has hiked rates six times since the Financial Crisis but deposit returns remain low and the bullish stock market of the past few years still provides strong incentive for people to move money out of bank accounts, which have traditionally paid low interest rates. The largest 22 regional banks added only $54.7 billion in total new deposits.

 

Thankfully, smaller banks do not have to worry about not having enough deposits to be profitable and to fund loans right now. These banks still hold a substantial amount of deposits to cover loans. Right now, the key issue for regional and local banks is how to attract customers, grow new deposits to fund future loan growth.

It’s a difficult question: how can a smaller bank without a major bank’s snazzy technology, large branch footprint, global household name, and varied products compete against other banks and motivate customers to make deposits? With bank holding companies’ financial backing, the largest consumer banks can easily afford to push out regional banks. Regional banks must accept their limited resources cannot outrun the major players. Proper positioning and creative marketing will be key to their success.

 

Our client, founded over 100 years ago in Brooklyn, had a significant heritage to build on. However, its client base was aging and retiring to Florida and few in the younger generation knew its name. Our challenge: use data-driven direct marketing to simultaneously rebuild our client’s brand and create a competitive, desirable offer package that would motivate new customers—not just in NY, but around the country—to make deposits.

Positioning identified that investors desired higher interest rates combined with secure liquid investments and we designed our message and digital tactics to secure them. After helping our client select a competitive rate to match, we branched into building an extremely scalable, efficient campaign nationally that was personalized enough to target individuals looking for greater yields. We had back-up plans: for people who did not convert, we targeted them again with more personalized ads.  As ads ran, we stayed grounded, continuously tracking comparable interest rates to make sure our client’s rates were competitive and advertised.

We actively monitored each step of the DR campaign to understand how to best optimize our advertising dollars. In 1 month, we were getting an 800% return on our ad spend. By our campaign’s end, we had obtained a 3000% return.

And, how did ours and our client’s mutual investment in each other turn out? Amazing. With a small marketing budget, we used compelling offers and messages and optimized tactics to transform our client’s local heritage and name into a national brand and raise capital. In 12 months, we helped our client, who had essentially no national presence before, secure $750 million in new deposits across the U.S.

 

Working Media Group is a strategic, data-driven agency that helps clients to successfully navigate the complex media landscape and drive business results. 

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