As with any bank merger communication plan, hard copy printed and mailed communications are critical elements to the overall campaign. Not only are hard copy communications necessary for legal reasons, but they are also a great opportunity to develop a relationship and paint a positive image of your institution for your new customers.
Planning for Printing and Mailing
The timeline for most of the printed and mailed communications are driven by legal compliance deadlines. As a result, not completing a planned deliverable on schedule will not only be an inconvenience for your new customers but could also cause your bank to incur substantial fines. Therefore it is always a recommended practice to build in 3-5 days for the “unexpected” – computer/server crashes, power outages, snow storms, and the like.
As important as allowing for enough time in your schedule is, choosing the “right” data consolidation firm, printer, and mailing shop is equally as important. Just because a firm is able to do “data processing” does not mean they are a good fit for a complex data consolidation that is required for merger communications. Additionally, ensure that you choose the right sized printer/mailing partner. If your project is either too small or too large for your partner, you risk getting lost in the shuffle or overloading the available resources. The end result of either of these is not good – so vet and choose your partners wisely.
Create accurate and complete communications
Change will be difficult enough for some customers, so avoiding any possible confusion in your communications should be a top priority. Here are some helpful hints:
Verify that the data you use for any communications is complete and up to date. Often, the time required to prepare and cleanse the data file takes weeks and can be coming from several different segments of the core system. This can result in outdated and non-matching data files. Be sure to request a gap file and properly consolidate data especially those records that come from different files.
Get a stamp of approval on the final version of the data file you plan to use from all departments/teams - deposit and loan teams, legal/compliance, marketing, and customer service departments.
Carefully proofread each element before it's printed. Then have someone else proofread it. Also, a professional proof reading service is ofter the best money you will ever spend. Mistakes are much less costly to fix before you have a printed piece.
Ask your printing partner for “hard copy color proofs”. Electronic proofs do not offer an accurate representation of color. Additionally, if possible, be on-site at the printing facility to watch the printed pieces come off the printing press. That way you can be guaranteed to like the final product.
Optimize each mailed package
It may sound obvious but when sending out any communication, we always recommend optimizing the package in terms of the information presented. If the data consolidation process has been done correctly, it is possible to combine 2, 3, or even 4 announcements into one comprehensive and well organized package as opposed to sending multiple mailings each saying a single thing.
Depending on the specifics of the merger, notices informing customers of changes in how certain types accounts are handled – IRAs, Home Equities, mortgages and etc, are legally required. Instead of sending a different mail package for each notice, we recommend selectively including these notices in the main Welcome Package. This saves a tremendous time, resources and money while presenting the new customer with a complete and comprehensive package of just the information they need.