Create the right content for the right time.
Most business banking marketing today continues to focus on broad, brand-based advertising. With respect to reaching small and midsize businesses (SMBs), such efforts struggle to make an impact. A more effective approach involves creating content that focuses on helping SMBs overcome business challenges before they’re actively in the market for specific products or services. While some banks have been developing content programs, most are not using a strategic, customer-centric approach that ultimately connects those challenges (and opportunities) with banking services. In this post, we’ll share our insights on a strategic approach to content for banks marketing to SMBs.
Note: While the bulk of this article has been oriented toward retail or business banking clients, some of the tactics we describe can be used for commercial banking, as well. We’ve also focused this post on marketing to existing businesses, not new businesses.
First, let’s look at some SMB trends and buying behaviors that might be affecting banking decisions:
- Today’s SMBs are dealing with unprecedented disruption in all aspects of their businesses.
- Because of this, small businesses are looking more than ever for ideas on how to better run their business.
- According to CEB, small business owners are 63% of the way through their buying journey before they reach out to potential vendors.
- Research also shows that only 3% of a typical target market is actively looking to buy at any given time (Source: Vorsight). The remaining 97% are potential future customers who are unlikely to respond to traditional advertising designed to make sales today.
What can you do with knowledge about these trends and behaviors? Implement a strategic approach to content that engages small businesses and helps them with the opportunities and challenges of running a business. The goal is to reach and engage prospects before they realize they’re in the market for a new bank or additional services. Then nurture them through their journey with content that generates demand for your bank’s services.
Here’s an example of how a bank might approach this, explained further below the chart:
Get in Early
Recall that 97% of your target market is unlikely to be looking to add services or switch providers at any given time. They’re trying to run their businesses and overcome the problems and challenges they face, and they’re looking for ideas and solutions. By offering content that helps the small business navigate critical financial challenges, you can give them a reason to engage early with your brand. As an example, for the beginning of the journey, you could create content around the impact of disruption on cash flow—perhaps an article on negotiating better payment terms.
Guide Them through Their Journey
Content for the middle of the journey should connect the benefits of your banking solutions to the needs of the small business. Note that the thrust should not yet be about your bank at this stage, but instead about educating the prospect regarding topics you can help them with, in general terms. For example, the owner of a growing business will often start delegating tasks to others; say, having someone else prepare checks. You can help them with content that explains the basics of business banking account controls, and describes what is possible.
Help with the Close
I’ve known dozens of small business bankers over the years, and their lament was often the same. They would say, “I’ve met several business owners that want to switch to us. Now is the hard part . . . actually getting them to do it.” Switching banks can seem daunting, so content for the end of the journey could focus on overcoming common objections. For example, “3 Steps to Switching Banks Painlessly.”
Reaching SMBs with Your Content
Before business owners are consciously in the market for your product or service, they are unlikely to encounter your content on their own. How do you get it in front of them?
- Consider using part of your advertising budget to promote your content. Paid social media can work well for this—use posts to drive SMBs to your website, blog, or other content platform.
- Ensure that all content includes links and adjacent articles designated for other stages of the buying journey. Remember that you never know where in their journey a prospect may be, or where they are going.
- If your small business bankers network a lot, the content you create for your website should also be produced for print and email for use in sales enablement. Even start-of-the-journey content can be used as a conversation starter. Great ideas to help business owners solve problems with their businesses are much better ice-breakers than talking about business checking.
For larger-business and commercial banking, consider hosting events. We have had a lot of success over the years in creating events for anywhere from 20–150 attendees that provide great opportunities for bankers to be in the room with business owners.
RSL Media has been producing marketing programs for banks since 2004, and our clients have found that content—done right—can be a powerful tool in engaging and nurturing SMBs.
For a deeper discussion of this topic and much more, download our latest guide, Accelerating the SMB Buyer’s Journey.
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