As Credit Unions and Community Banks move their marketing and member service further into the 21st Century, one of the keys will be competing with online lenders. We work with clients daily on better reaching their target audiences with messages of the benefits of banking and borrowing through a credit union. Here's a few quick tips you can implement immediately to better compete with online lenders and grow your Financial Institution:
Tip #1: Share and Engage with People About Topics Related to Lending, But Don't Try to SELL First
Think about it this way... according to the National Association of Realtors in 2012 "the use of the Internet in the home search rose slightly to 90 percent, and for buyers under the age of 44 this share increased to 96 percent." BUT, what this statistic doesn't tell you is WHAT people are using the internet to do.
Consider this... early home-buying searches likely have nothing to do with lending or mortgages. At this initial phase in the home-buying journey, prospective home-buyers are likely looking for information that would help them find the home of their dreams, save for a home, or find a good real estate agent.
So, perhaps your Financial Institution should be creating and sharing content around these kinds of topics instead of just creating content around your financial products and services.
How about for people searching online about buying a car?
Rather than just focusing on car loans or how to get pre-approved to buy a new car, consider focusing on topics like helping people pick the perfect car for a family, or deciding if should they buy a new or used car, or provide tips for negotiating with a car sales person.
These kinds of suggestions will hit borrowers early in their buying process and will build trust for potentially applying for a loan later when they are ready to make a final purchase decision.
Tip #2: Remember that Lending is LOCAL - Always Optimize Your Branch Local Listing Results
One of the main ways that credit unions or community banks with brick and mortar locations can best compete with online lenders is to leverage their physical branch locations and completely optimize them for Google search.
When a user searches online for lending options Google results will rank local brick-and-mortar locations even above other top organic results. This can give your credit union or bank a valuable edge over online lenders!
Google explains that these results are directly influenced by improving your Google My Business Page and “local results are based primarily on relevance, distance, and prominence.”
Lenders without physical locations are NOT eligible to appear on map results. So, if your FI can continue to optimize your local search results, your institution will be able to compete with FinTech lenders very effectively. You can test your branch lists here.
Try to do all of the following to improve your local search results:
To Improve 'Relevance' on Google:
Include relevant lending keywords and categories in all local listings, including your Google business page.
Make sure all business information and product and service options are included in your local listings.
To Improve 'Distance' on Google:
Make sure ALL branch locations have detailed and accurate address information, hours and contact details.
To Improve 'Prominence' on Google:
Encourage members/customers to add reviews to Google and other local listing websites like Yelp or Waze. Well-know businesses have plenty of reviews, so you need to work hard to get these!
Possibly run a testimonial contest and include the option to share these stories via Google.
Tip 3: Make Sure Lending Staff Have Up-To-Date LinkedIn Profiles
Not only is lending LOCAL, but is also PERSONAL. Consider that one of the biggest advantages your Credit Union or Community Bank has over FinTech lenders is personalized and friendly staff and stellar customer service. So why not feature your lending staff more prominently online?
Individual lending staff members should have optimized and regularly updated profiles on LinkedIn. These will help your institution reach a more professional audience and also showcase your staff, who should be your biggest brand ambassadors. Lending staff should regularly share ideas and tips on LinkedIn as well as blogs they write or find that will help borrowers.