We talked with Katelin Cweika, Marketing Specialist at Avidia Bank, about what has changed in banking over the past decade and how banks should adapt as a result. Cweika outlines some fantastic, pratical solutions about how financial institutions can merge real-world projects with digital projects.
What have been the biggest changes when it comes to marketing in banks and credit unions over the past 10 years?
Certainly one of the biggest changes we've seen is the movement to digital. Everybody is looking at making their website optimized, having a social presence, looking at what's the latest and greatest mobile apps and so forth. The shift is not so much in getting rid of traditional marketing though. We're still sticking with that as well.
How are you sticking with it? Are you doing it at the same pace, or has the pace of traditional marketing lessened?
I would say the pace of traditional marketing has lessened. There are fewer people finding the messages that way, so we've seen an evolution of television. People aren't getting it through regular cable anymore; they're going to live streaming, they're looking on YouTube and Hulu and that kind of thing. They're getting their messages there and that's where we want to be. But you're still getting a good crowd who are following cable and newspapers. People still do read the newspapers, maybe just in different formats.
So what would you say would be the biggest thing that most banks should be doing that they're not typically doing?
I would say certainly taking advantage of some of these digital channels that we have out there. It's been a place that we have been very cautious over as financial institutions because regulation isn't 100% there yet. It's really a new thing overall. But I think it's a place that they should invest some time into and make sure that they're going to be there, because that's where their customers are. And ultimately you want to reach your customers on the channels they're on.
So what have been the biggest obstacles to implementing this shift from being 100% traditional to increasingly digital in marketing efforts? What obstacles are in the way of banks?
A lot of people ask about messaging. They say, "Would this CD advertisement perform well onto Facebook?" It doesn't translate the same way, it's not the same audience. That's a challenge, to get them to understand that it's a different way you're reaching your customers. But also look at the ROI. That's always a hot topic. People can bring in a newspaper clipping and say I saw that this account is available at your bank and I wanted to come in. But you don't get that. Nobody prints out a Facebook post and comes in. So looking at the ROI and really establishing yourself as a brand on social is really important. That's a challenge that marketers face.
What would be an example of an effective message in the digital age? What has Avidia seen that has worked particularly well in terms of messaging?
Everybody has the same types of products. They offer the same loans, the same checking — everything is the same. You've got to look at what else they do. What else is my bank going to bring me? Are they involved in my community? Do they have a vested interest in me? And people identify with that now, so they're looking at do they have the same values that I do? Are they investing right in my community? Do they give back? To show that on social, and even to show kind of behind the scenes and what goes into day to day lives with people, people get excited about that. Otherwise people just think, "oh you're a bank, and you hold money in a vault," and that's pretty much it.
So you're talking about Facebook posts about a project that Avidia did, and you would draw attention to it as part of your marketing efforts.
Absolutely. So showing what we're doing. Maybe we have a team that goes out to do a community service project and people resonate with that. It speaks to them. Talking about some of the mobile features that we have. People get really excited to see even behind the scenes when we are developing these things. And we bring them along for the journey. And then listening to customer feedback, so that opens up the channel and lets them say yeah, I want to give you my feedback as well. And if we say we hear you, we're going to fix it, we're going to change things according to what you say, customers really value that.
It sounds to me that you're talking about storytelling. Do you think of it in those terms at Avidia?
Absolutely. One of our big releases recently was cardless cash. So we brought our customers along from the beginning, showing them that we are developing this and that we're bringing on board all of our testing. They got to see every single moment of it and then ask questions. So by the time we actually launched it, they were so excited to get their hands on it.
Has it been productive for Avidia to partner with fintech companies, and if so what partnerships have been particularly effective?
I would certainly say it has been really effective for us to partner with fintech companies. I think a lot of people look at fintech, especially when you're coming from an FI stance, and you say it's almost like us versus them. And it's not. You have to look at working together. I read an article recently from Gary Vanderchuck. He talked about how things like Uber and Air BnB shouldn't exist, but they do because there was a need and that's something that customers were looking for and traditionally people weren't fulfilling that need. So somebody went out on their own to do that, and I think that's what a lot of fintech companies are doing. But banks not adopting that? That's not helping their cause. So I think if you partner with them and you say, "hey, we're all in this together, let's move forward with this," then you'll both have success over all. And one of those great examples of our partnerships was with this company out of California called Link2Pay. We've teamed up with them, they offer a payments platform for our business customers. It's got all kinds of security and cloud features and everything else, but it's something that's in demand in the market and they sought us out actually because of our social presence funny enough. They really wanted to team up with us that way. We've teamed up with them, banded, and become their OGFI to process payments, and now we have Avidia Pay. So really excited, and just launched that a few months ago.
That's a really cool story. What are going to be the major changes, just generally speaking, that things should banks be really keeping their eye on for the next 10 years?
I certainly think, I mean we talked a lot about social media, but it's definitely something to watch for. Something to make sure you're on those channels, at least monitoring them for your own mentions of your brand is going to be important. It's hard to invest a lot of time and money into that, but at least monitoring and know what's out there. And then certainly mobile is just a huge thing that people are looking at right now. We look at a lot of people who are going to mobile only banks, but a lot of banks already have that. A lot of your customers are already using mobile primarily for most of their transactions. So constantly staying up on that and listening to your customers every step of the way, because they'll give you some good feedback on what's valuable and what they want to see.
Anything that you would like to add or conclude with?
Like I said, just always listen to your customers and ask for their feedback. A lot of people put out these massive surveys with 50 questions or something, but ask them their feedback on things. It's really important, we had a website relaunch recently, we redesigned our website, and we have a lot of customers that came back with us and said "I would like to see XYZ on your website." And instead of just saying they don't know anything about it, we said okay let's talk about it and see what we can do. And we personally reached out to every single one of those customers and said thank you so much for your feedback, guess what? We did edit the website to have it portrayed the way you want it to. They felt like oh my goodness, I'm the champion. And really when you make the customer the hero they just want to share everything with the world and let people know that they are the ones who changed that website. So definitely just always listen to your customers.