Build a well before your brand gets thirsty.With a flurry of activity precipitated by the Coronavirus, bankers have demands like never before: PPP lending, refis, new loans to fund expansions... and shifting sands have everyone on their toes.

For most bankers, it's challenging and rewarding.

Helping communities grow, survive challenges and prosper is deep within bankers' DNA. And they’re glad to be part of these important efforts.

But bankers beware: don’t let this high demand distract you from forward-thinking marketing and business development. You’ve got to continue with your social media, PR and branding efforts so you’re still busy in the future. You know the pipeline can be long. It’s important to plan ahead so that when times even out, you’re still the go-to for all things financial.

You have to dig a well before you are thirsty.
Taking a long view will help you now, and into the future.

the now
You want to get as much of the share of the market as you can. Many people are in the market. Are you visible enough and active enough to attract them to your institution instead of your competitor?

the near future
When this crisis is over, there will be losers, but there will also be many winners. I believe there will be a huge pent-up demand ready to be unleashed as consumers and businesses make up for lost ground.

  • Consumers will want to dine out, attend festivals and movies and buy clothing.
  • Many will shop for cars, durable goods and homes.
  • Existing businesses will need to be ready to fulfill these demands.
  • New businesses will sprout up as a result of layoffs, job changes or new opportunities in the economy.

This means new financial needs on both the loan and deposit sides. Are you positioning your brand now for that demand later this year? What will it take?

the distant future
No one knows what the distant future will bring. But we do know that financial institutions will still be needed to facilitate economic opportunity. The needs could grow, or they could slow down.

Either way, you must be ready for every eventuality.

Dust off your brand—make sure it truly differentiates you from your competitors. Do you—and everyone inside your institution—know your purpose, your brand and how to deliver on it every day? If you have a brand only based on customer service or fast, local loan decisions, you have a me-too brand that won’t take you far.

Dig deeper—look for the other things that differentiate you from the institution around the corner or across the globe. Customers and prospects must recognize and value that "special something" only you bring.

Refresh and relaunch your paid marketing campaigns—they might need to look different than the ones you’ve run in the past. What’s relevant to your customers and prospects now? What will their needs be in 6 months? Can you anticipate and be there? Make sure you speak to them in a way that shows you’re in tune with their needs and ready to help as time goes on.

Shore them up with social media and public relations—people working from home—or working from home in shifts—are spending much more time online and on social media. Are you there? Make sure your social messaging and your community service activities are connected to—and enhance—your paid marketing.

Give them advice for saving, updates on safety in your communities, community service efforts you support, ask them for feedback on what they need. Then respond.

Put effort behind your business development bankers—In busy times as well as in slow times, it’s critical to support your business development team with high-quality, branded collateral materials and digital assets they can use to help bring in the customers you can help.

Take a step back: do those bankers need additional training, budgets to attend networking events and fundraisers or other support that gets them in front of their audiences? Ask them.

Make sure you’re connecting with the future workforce—you’ll need to them to serve ongoing demand. Are you attractive to the best and brightest potential employees? Pan for gold. Monitor social media and community events. Who are the people that might be a great addition to your team? Connect with them. Listen to them. Start to gauge whether there’s a potential match and keep your “people to watch” file for the future.

Put your best foot forward. Be sure your communications activities clearly demonstrate your purpose and your brand to candidates who might be looking for a change. Do an online search of your institution and see what reviews and posts about you are out there. Do they fit with your vision of your best self? If not, get to work.

Get digging
The time is now to plan for your future. It may feel far away, but it's really just around the corner. For individuals with foresight, there are oceans of opportunities ahead.

For help with a future-forward approach to marketing for your financial institution, contact Martha Bartlett Piland This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. You can also find more inspiration when you order Martha's newest book, Beyond Sticky on Amazon or anywhere books are sold.