How Not To Earn Banking Customers’ Trust

I opened up today’s Boston Globe, and on the front page of one the sections was a full-page for a bank that contained the following headline:

“Confidence is good. Earning it is better.”

The ad then displays a big blue box that highlights the bank’s higher-than-average rate on a 6-month CD. The rest of the ad goes on to say “At XXX Bank, you can feel confident with a short-term CD at a great rate. All from a bank you can trust.”

My take: Yes, confidence is good, and earning it is better. But you do not earn confidence by simply offering a good rate. This is true even in normal times. But what what makes this ad so insulting is that these are not normal times.

Is there nobody at this bank who understands what’s going on out there and who can communicate it to the ad agency? Is the ad agency itself that clueless? Do they really believe that simply offering a superior rate is the way to earning [back] the public’s confidence? Is there nobody at either the bank or ad agency who understands that this is not the right time for “marketing as usual”?

My advice to the CMO of that bank: “Ms. CMO, tear down that ad.”

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7 thoughts on “How Not To Earn Banking Customers’ Trust

  1. I just saw a BofA ad this morning with a headline that reads:

    “A new opportunity to bank with confidence, security and a higher interest rate.” and then goes on to extend a welcome to new customers (and describe the rate details).

    That seems similar in some respects but much better overall. What do you think?

  2. Ron, I love these types of ads. I think they are great. I wish all the banks I compete with ran these.

    My bank’s most recent ads have in the copy something like “We are a solid bank with strong capital and strong asset quality” We also mention like most community banks we never did subprime lending. We also mention we are still very much in the lending business for both consumers and businesses. Oh and we also lowered our rates.

    It’s old time banking. That is all.


  3. This is so right. In the good times Banks could always argue that their ads were ok, but the current times just isolates how much Bank ads are out of touch. After my rant the other day BMO in Canada shifted to a low key approach, and while I would like to take credit the pre-planning for such things tells me I just got lucky. The time has come to align market presence with the times.

    check this ad out … is it well timed?

  4. Well said Ron.

    Here’s the problem as I see it from a marketer’s perspective rather than the banker’s.

    I think customers mostly want to protect assets. And safety erodes when a bank pays a point or two more than other banks when the customer may be thinking about simply protecting what he already has.

    So there is dissonance here.

    If anything, banks lost their way by paying too much… or rather by disregarding good lending practices. So broad based advertising about higher rates on CDs may actually focus the customer on the bad banking practices that got us where we are today.

    This relationship is false, but perceptions are reality.

    What is the solution?

    Perhaps the old axiom of rewarding your best customers by giving them more than the average customer works best in this environment. Demonstrate solid business practices by not giving away the store. Generosity in this case makes good business sense from the customer’s point of view.

    What do you think banks should do in the new environment?

  5. In my opinion and our companies opinion, banks should be focused on educating their customers in today’s market, not telling them about their rates. Talking to them about how they can send their kids to college or invest in their retirement years, not about how they’ve got the greatest Christmas Checking Account on the block.

    We all know the top of mind initiative, especially in today’s market, is to grow deposits. But what happens after the bank won the consumers business? You’ve won their trust. Do you market more checking, savings and CD rates? Or do you market that you have the answers to ALL their financial questions? Seems like an easy decision to me.

  6. Well said …

    I’ve been noticing this disconnect in the marketplace as well. Even from banks with share prices under a dollar —

    I also remember years ago, that a big thrift in California by the name of Great Western had their tagline as “We’ll Always Be There.” — They were eventually swallowed by by WAMU, but they kept on using that tagline even after the acquisition was announced and in process.

    I suspect that the root cause is just laziness — the ad is already made, and so they just re-run it again and again, regardless of any changes in the marketplace.

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