By Paul Boston, Partner/Creative Director

Community Banks and Credit Unions Prove What Matters Most

Now is the time to leverage your strengths.

Bankers are expected to offer security, value, access, accountability, smiles and responsiveness all year long — in the background. When you think about it, they enjoy the same level of appreciation my water heater enjoys. It works flawlessly and continuously, out-of-sight and out-of-mind. Sure, I’m pretty happy with it, until there’s an issue. But is that issue enough to get me to buy a new one? Probably not. It’s just not worth the hassle. For many consumers and small businesses, staying with a bank is the path of least resistance. In fact, a recent study[1] showed that 24% of respondents would rather do their taxes and 13% would rather have a colonoscopy than change their primary bank.

The competitive pressure on community banks and credit unions is especially high. Large banks have branches and ATMs in just about every market, and with the wholesale acceptance of digital banking, they’re virtually everywhere. Over the past few years, community banks have invested in digital platforms and services to compete. But with all of this offsite banking, is the other community bank value proposition of “community focus and personal service” still relevant? If you’re a community bank or credit union you’ve known for years the answer is “yes.” The challenge has been convincing consumers that these things still matter.

The great news is that point was just made in a big way.

You Are the PPP Heroes
As America looked on, many of the big banks took care of big customers first and left small businesses hanging during the COVID-19 crisis. Thousands of small business owners and their employees waited an excruciating 2 to 3 weeks (that’s 10 years in pandemic time) to find out that their SBA Payroll Protection Plan application that took hours and hours to pull together, was rejected. Or worse yet, didn’t even get submitted by their bank.

While all of this happened, community bankers were working day and night to make sure their valuable business customers’ applications were processed.

But as quickly as I just typed that last sentence, millions of consumers all over the country were being served advertising from the banking industry giants. Sophisticated, well-crafted brand messages seeking to rekindle lost brand affinity and rebuild trust. They have the analytics, the marketing teams, the agencies and the media budgets to stay in front of existing and potential customers. Your customers.

Are you ready to compete with that? I say YES. Because as intimidating as all of that might sound, you’ve already done the hard part: You know how to nurture meaningful banking relationships.

Even though you’re not the only community bank that excels on relationships, you still have a story to tell. Your organization. Your people. Your community. And they all coalesce to create the essence of your brand. How exactly does that story look, sound and feel? Where is it? When is it? Now’s the time to work that out.

Embrace the Challenging Times
Community banks and credit unions have already proven they know how to help customers and members when they need it most. Consumers have short memories, so now is the time to leverage your hero status in the community. Refocus your message. Align your channels with your audiences. Do these things and position your brand for growth.

Click here to check out our agency’s expertise in this area and find more useful guidance.