3 Ways to Grow Your Community Bank or Credit Union without a Big Budget
Growth depends on understanding your current customers and your potential customers, their needs, and how to provide for those needs. For your customers, it means understanding how they are experiencing the bank, and what more do they need and want. For your prospects, it means understanding what their current bank is NOT providing and communicating clearly that you can do a better job.
It does not need to cost a lot of money to understand their needs, nor does it have to take millions of advertising dollars to communicate your ability to meet those needs. Below are some of the methods that don’t cost much and have a great ROI.
Grow Your Community Bank with Community Involvement
There’s no doubt that one of the big differentiators for community banks and credit unions is their ability to be more involved in the local community. And while we’ve talked about it before, you’d be surprised at how many community banks still don’t take advantage of this easy way to grow. From sponsoring a local sports club to working with a local charity, there’s no better way to connect with your customers and potential customers in a meaningful way. This is especially important for attracting new commercial customers, because of the nature of the business. When their lines or loans at another institution come up for renewal every few years, most businesses want to get a competitive bid or two. But how do they decide who gets a shot? Word-of-mouth can be important, but so can high-profile community contribution. To be clear, a business is not likely to pay you a couple hundred extra basis points on a loan just because you sponsor the local parade, but it just might get you in the door to win a deal at par.
Grow Your Community Bank through Networking
As a local community bank manager, not only should your bank be a part of the local Chamber of Commerce, but you should be attending the meetings each month. Connect with other business people in the community and learn from them. Not only is it possible to gain more business customers from being more connected with them, but you can also learn more about their customers – your bank consumers. And remember, the vast majority of new business that comes from networking is NOT direct business but from referrals from the people you contact. So don’t make the mistake of trying to be pushy with the people you meet. It is better to be helpful, because then they will think of you the next time, they hear of someone with a need.
Grow Your Community Bank with Collaboration
Don’t dismiss the possibility of being able to collaborate with other local businesses. From being on-site at a car dealership to assist with loans during a big sale to working with a local SCORE office to provide financial advice to new business owners, you can do so much to simply be visible in your community without spending a ton on advertising.
You can grow your community bank or credit union without breaking the bank to do it. The key is to project the message that resonates with potential and current customer needs. Don’t waste your time promoting your new technology if everyone is already happy with the technology they have. Don’t waste your efforts promoting how non-pushy your staff is, if local prospects actually want more proactivity and think their bank is not pushy enough. The most eloquently crafted message is useless if it does not sync up with an exact need.
Not sure what the key needs are for potential customers in your trade area? We can tell you exactly. Our local bank benchmarks give community banks the insights they need to customize their marketing, retain their customers, and attract new customers. We would be happy to provide information on your trade area and on your bank; please contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 203-906-8923 to request a copy of your report or to discuss subscription options.