Drawing Connections to Your Brand
When members visit a financial institution, they typically do so with a set goal in mind, whether that involves taking out a loan, opening a new line of credit, or simply transferring money between accounts. However, there is ample opportunity for cross sales, and these are more easily communicated to members if you have distinctive messaging that helps raise awareness of these products and services, along with people who are excited about supporting them.
It is no secret that the needs of your surrounding community can differ from the needs of those several hundred miles away or even just a few dozen. Are there solutions that you offer that your members recognize as being “unquestionably you”? Are these offerings unique to your organization? If not, are there aspects of them—the rates offered or a convenient means of access—that make them stand out from the crowd?
If customers can make immediate connections between the solutions being offered and your organization’s name and image, it means there is less work required on their end and better establishes a recognition that can build brand loyalty. According to research from Sprout Social, “More than three-quarters of consumers (76%) say they would buy from a brand they feel connected to over a competitor, and 57% say they are more likely to increase how much they spend with a brand when they feel connected.”
What are your current short-term and long-term goals?
Beyond the main channels of revenue, every organization has additional goals it would like to bring to fruition. Todd Kunsman, Marketing Team Lead with Everyonesocial believes that “company culture grows when everyone has access to information, whether about the company or to help them learn something new. It gets employees involved in conversations, allowing for feedback, participation, and incentivizing as well. Executives and company leaders are not the only ones with something good to share or teach.” Inviting internal conversations helps to narrow down future goals and help them take shape.
Whether your organization’s marketing team is big or small, having a group that is passionate about these goals and willing to champion them to a larger audience can pay significant dividends by building excitement among consumers and seeing them invest in your products and services. Hannah Trivette, Forbes Councils Member, believes that “once employees are engaged in a cause or issue, even internally, it can create natural opportunities for authentic videos, social posts, and blogs on these activities and how they align with your mission.” Once your team members have a clear goal in mind, it’s time to take to readily-available platforms and communicate these to a wider audience.
Casting a wider net to communicate your goals
Shanna Mallon, writer for Straight North and contributor with Business2Community, says “before you can sell something, you have to know it”—not just the product or service you are seeking to sell but the purpose behind it, the mission you are hoping to accomplish. “Take the time to define and understand your brand in order to know how to market it well. This message needs to be worked into all your branding materials, from business cards to social media profiles to sales plans.”
In defining these components, it is also important to determine a voice or tone that matches what you are presenting. If you are providing a supplementary service that makes a user experience more convenient, it is probably best to pare the description down so that it is similarly easy to digest, rather than loading a sales pitch with technical jargon.
If you have team members who are passionate about the goals being pursued, they are probably your best fit to champion it. Even if an employee does not have a traditional background in marketing or communications, partnering them with a fellow team member who does to get the word out not only presents opportunities to cross-pollinate skill sets but can even make internal departments aware of what’s going on across the hall and the time and effort that colleagues are putting into these projects. It is to the benefit of a larger group to have more people in the loop so that when clients have questions, half of your staff isn’t completely in the dark.
Social media is not just an extension of your organization—for many, this is the face of your institution
Social media has become such a heavily-integrated component of building a brand identity that sometimes organizations seem content to rest on their laurels, assuming that simply having these channels sporting a company logo is enough. But ongoing support for a social media presence is paramount to drawing in new customers—for many prospective customers, recent posts on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram serve as their first impression of an organization.
According to Sprout Social, “When asked which communication channels give brands the best opportunity to connect with their customers, survey respondents ranked social media as number one.” If these aren’t being updated regularly or with consistent messaging, viewers may simply take their time and money elsewhere.
A social media presence can be bolstered by the voices of those within the organization. “Employees are a brand’s best advocates,” they add. “While some brands turn to influencers to boost awareness, others look inward for new spokespeople. Consumers enjoy seeing the real people who bring a brand to life, and they report feeling more connected to brands whose employees act as advocates on social.” This can be leveraged a step further if your leadership chooses to get involved, with the same selling points and brand messaging now being shared from the top of the organization. “Seventy percent of consumers, for example, report feeling more connected when a brand’s CEO is active on social.”
Responding to comments and feedback from customers also gives an additional way to build your image and give your staff a voice. A reply as simple as “We’re happy that we could help you out!” lets your client base see that your team is engaged and invested with what they have to say. And even if the feedback isn’t always positive, going out of your way to address it can play a significant role in how your organization is perceived. This can provide clients a platform to express areas they feel could use extra attention or would fit well with your current offerings. The easy option might be to ignore any feedback that is less-than-positive, but challenging yourself to adjust where appropriate is a valuable step in fostering good faith with those interested in doing business with you.
Shared goals and a shared sense of pride within your organization
Communicating what your brand is all about and the goals that your organization is looking to accomplish are key components to establishing relations with new customers as well as furthering connections with familiar faces. Additionally, if you are going to “talk the talk”, your staff should be ready to “walk the walk” as well. An outstanding product or service is only good to a customer if they understand what they are getting – not just the details of what they are considering purchasing, but the support and direction they will receive throughout the process. As Connor Brooke of Business2Community puts it, “Selling your brand is about more than showcasing a list of features; it’s about building and expanding the message of who you are and what you’re known for.”
Take pride in your organization and your image and make sure to revisit it as you press on with your goals. It is a cyclical process and may not always follow a neat line of forward progress, but it can take you, your team members, and your relationships with clients a long way.
Stay tuned for part two for a dive into the brand champions who can help lead the charge on new initiatives within your organization!