Bank Marketing: 7 Tips to Improve Small Business Lead Generation

Posted by Bruce McMeekin

small business ownerIf you are a bank marketing professional, you no doubt understand what a challenge it is to convince small business owners and CFO's that it's time to switch banks. Even developing enough doubt in the mind of a small business owner about their current situation to consider meeting with your bank is a difficult task.

So what can you do to be sure that your bank is on the very short list of contending banks if and when a business decides to start looking around? Stick with best practices, including these 7 tips for improving your bank's lead generation program success:  


1. Understand that the needs of the small business audiences vary by segment and speak to each segment's particular needs.

  • Segment messaging by company revenue (<$500K, < $2 mllion, < $5 million) since the financial needs of small businesses vary dramatically across these segments.

  • Segment messaging by “industry cluster needs” (likely to need credit, likely to need CM, likely to need payroll, etc.)

  • Segmenting by ownership structure (Partnership vs. single owner vs. family business)

  • Segment by owners' goals.  Do they want to sell their firm quickly?  Do they want to grow or enjoy their current size?

2. Build an accurate, actionable list.  Nothing else matters if you have a poor quality list.

  • Use multiple sources to enhance coverage and verify accuracy

  • Ensure decision maker(s) name and title are included in the record.  It is truly amazing how much mail we see with simply a company name and address.  

  • Acquire segmentable data fields, such as sales revenue, industry, and employee count at a minimum

  • Acquire UCC data to help determine where prospect might be currently banking (if a company has a secured loan or credit line, their bank must make a public UCC listing in order to perfect their lien).

  • Geo-target using drive-time radii based on existing customer distribution - OR geo-target around specific competitors' branches if a specific bank is likely to have dissatisfied customers (post-merger, fee changes, tighter credit, etc.)

  • Make sure you have a clean list (ensure your agency runs lists through the National Change of Address service).  You might also consider a low cost telephone verification service to make sure your prospect is still in business, determine decision maker name, etc.  

3. Use offers that reward the desired behavior to drive your prospects to act. 

  • Use content that matters to build interest and differentiation.

  • Be clear about what you want the prospect to do: “Want to learn more?  Download the full article at..." or “If you need to improve your cash flow, we should meet and I’ll bring along a copy of <book>”

  • Use credit offers for real estate, wholesalers, vehicle/parts dealers, gas stations, healthcare, builders/developers

  • Use deposit-related offers for insurance, attorneys, accountants, professional services, and other cash rich industries.

4. Engage your sales force.

  • Arm each sales person with tools and information to succeed

  • Use a campaign mentality, perhaps even with sales incentives, to focus on a select target audience: using Branch footprint or Business Banker territory/specialty (i.e. healthcare)

  • Recognize EACH win.  It does not take long to write a weekly email summary of your success...and this goes a long way.  

  • Equip sales with an additional pocket offer they can use to help push fence sitters their way: “Right now, we can reward new customers with a $200 bonus if you add online banking to a new checking account."

  • Identify potential barriers to sale and provide “silver bullets” for overcoming each

5. Use direct mail frequently to target high value prospects, with messaging and offers tailored to their profile (see offers above).

 We like to think that everyone in the audience is prepared to engage in a decision about banking the day they receive the mail!  Sadly that is not true.  

6. Don’t overspend on low value prospects.  Do “overspend” on high value prospects.It’s reasonable to spend 1 year’s profit to acquire a multi-year customer.   For customers that are likely to have low deposit balances and fees, you need to be sure your cost of acquisition does not exceed your potential profit per customer.

7. Automate lead nurturing messaging with email and direct mail.  Let’s face it, most companies aren’t ready to switch banks today.  Certain leads will require 1 to 2 years of nurturing to become sales ready. 

  • Get opt-in permission to stay in touch with prospects with valuable content and referrals

  • Develop a series of offers to keep front and center in a prospect’s mind at all times

  • Emphasize that switching banks is easier than it seems

Of course, we're always happy to discuss your specific program goals. Give us a call at 781-741-8005 if you'd like to ask questions or bounce some ideas off us to help you put these tips into action!
Learn more about BKM's Financial Services practice

Topics: Bank Marketing, Direct Marketing