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While we've been hearing the phrase "in the wake of COVID-19" in the media for some time, the reality is that we're still very much involved IN the COVID-19 pandemic. Most every financial institution is actively working on loans, programs, and other assistance measures to help those currently dealing with financial pains being caused by this crisis.
The wake of COVID-19, more specifically the financial wake that will be left behind by the resulting economic impact, is still ahead of us.
Every financial marketer needs to be prepared for the changes in consumer behavior and perceptions that will be prevalent in your target market. In some ways, they'll be like a brand new audience, at least for the short term.
Below are 5 areas of marketing that you should be focused on now, so you're prepared to reenter the marketplace with meaningful messaging that will resonate with leery consumers.
1. Revisit Your Buyer Personas
While you may have had Millennial Mary pegged for an optimistic future homeowner who, despite her student loan debt, would likely be looking for an auto loan for a slightly used car and fairly comfortable with at least a modest amount of credit debt, that may not be Millennial Mary any more.
Millennial Mary might be in way over her head after losing her job and fighting to make ends meet. Alternatively, she might have kept her job as an 'essential employee' and be on the fast track to buying a home while rates are low and some housing markets are seeing prices dropping.
Depending on your unique market, ideal customers may not fit their previously defined personas right now, or going forward. In what ways does your marketing messaging need to change to resonate with them now? What are their new concerns, challenges, and goals?
Revisit your ideal personas, use current market research, and make sure your marketing messaging is relevant and appropriate now, and going forward.
2. Review Your Resource Library
What are the key resources your customers are going to need now? Do your old blog posts, eBooks, and guides on Budgeting fit the current situation they're in? Are these resources buried behind more current dated content and should be refreshed and brought to the top of the blog and resource center?
Consider a new section of content for your blog and online resource center that's relevant and current. If you've been thinking about starting videos, now is a great time! Start building this library now so it'll be ready when you fully reopen.
3. Consider New Communication Methods
As a marketer, you may have to lead the initiative to research and implement video conferencing as a way of doing business remotely going forward. And not only between you and your colleagues, but also as a way of communicating with your members and customers.
Once implemented, think about how that should change your marketing. Perhaps the call-to-action (CTA) on your blog post, or vlog post, should be a request to a Service Representative that someone wants to talk to them face-to-face over video and then serves up the information to make that happen.
You should be asking yourself and your larger team, what other ways can we use video for both marketing and servicing customers going forward? Now that 'Zoom calls' have quickly become the new norm for many, the door is wide open to set your financial institution apart from your competitors by offering this communication to people from the safety of their own homes.
4. Remove Sales-y Language From Your Website
Using marketing messaging that could be construed as overly sales-oriented or pushy, while some many of your ideal customers are trying to work their way out of a serious financial crisis is not appropriate at this time.
Take a moment and revisit your website through the eyes of someone in a financial hardship. Does "we'll get you into the home of your dreams" sound even remotely realistic for what your marketplace is currently experiencing? Does your travel rewards credit card sound like a good financial product for people to prioritize right now, as your website copy may suggest?
It's all about perception.
While many people may still be financially sound, ready to move into the home of their dreams, and start building up travel rewards for future use, they will still understand you offer those products if you use more straightforward language.
But the "frills and thrills" language could turn people away right now. And you risk making them feel like you don't understand or worse, don't care about the current crisis. For this reason you might need to consider making some changes to the tone of the copy on your website.
5. Be Proactive With Messaging About Reinstating Fees
If your institution has been waiving fees during this time, make sure you're ready with communications letting customers know when the fees are going to be reinstated. Give people plenty of advance notice and use a couple different communication channels since email boxes are overflowing for everyone right now. We recommend that you also have your internal compliance team review any fee reinstatement processes and communication plans, as there will likely be relevant guidance from your regulatory agency that you must follow.
Include in this communication why you waived the fees and why it's necessary to start charging them again. While you understand the importance of non-interest income, your customers/members may not. They may feel as though you were "just fine" without them and there's no reason for your institution to start charging fees again.
Remember, it's all about perception. You have to use this as an opportunity to deliver your message in a way that shows empathy and caring and avoids any potential backlash on social media or other online review websites (Google, Yelp, etc.).
If your 2020 growth goals have been devastated by the pandemic and you're trying to figure out the best way to plan for the remainder of the year, you might be interested to learn more in The Ultimate Guide to Successful Inbound Marketing for Financial Institutions.
Other Related COVID Content: In the Wake of COVID-19 the Value of Inbound Marketing Becomes Blatantly Clear