What Corporate Bank Marketing Looks Like Today
An Interview with industry insider Pat Scanlon
We recently had an opportunity to talk with Pat Scanlon, managing director of the Corporate Financial Group, a network of financial marketing professionals1, about the challenges, goals and priorities in corporate bank marketing today. With all of the coverage surrounding what corporate clients want from their banks, we thought it would be interesting to get a veteran bank marketer's perspective.
"The marketing landscape is changing dramatically," Scanlon reports. "I haven't seen this level of change in 30 years. It's very exciting, and sometimes a little scary."
Q. Why have things changed so dramatically?
A. Traditional marketing as we know it is moving backstage. New digital channels are changing the way we market. Staffing reflects that. Young people coming in are much more proficient in technology and analytics, skills which are critical right now. Traditional marketers have to adapt or get out of the way.
Q. We've gone from having just a few marketing channels in years past to almost countless online channels. How do these new digital channels impact how Marketing develops and delivers content?
A. You can't talk about content unless you talk about sales enablement and automation. It all ties together. We used to be able to deal in pockets of activity, and we can't anymore. Internally banks are changing the way content adapts to any media. Some are doing more outsourcing to manage that. And greater attention today is paid to websites, driving traffic to them and helping make them a more positive customer experience.
But bank marketers are also working with corporate relationship managers to map content to the sales process. We're changing the whole tone of our messages with a shift to telling stories, and there's more of a focus on thought leadership to differentiate from the competition, with less emphasis on promoting product. And we're beginning to use social media venues, particularly LinkedIn, not as a promotional tool, but as a way to provide our clients with a peer network of small communities to bounce ideas off of, and share best practices with.
Q. How are automation and sales enablement technologies affecting the relationship between Sales and Marketing?
A. Automation is enabling some very positive changes — maybe, most importantly, more collaboration. There has always been an understanding that an organization operates at a much higher level if Marketing and Sales are aligned. Automation makes that more easily achievable.
Q. How so?
A. As sales forces became automated and better organized in their activities, they realized they needed better access to marketing tools. Marketing then started to organize their assets and make them more accessible through automation. That's where content comes in. Sales automation can reveal the role content plays in each stage of the buying process or consideration phase. Salespeople want tools to increase their effectiveness, like content. To deliver this, Marketing is working with Sales to understand the buyers' pain points so they can better address them in their messaging.
Q. Are most banks up and running with this type of automation?
A. It's definitely a work in progress. In fact, marketers really have their hands full today facilitating the internal changes necessary to make marketing automation work. A lot of the sales automation tools have marketing features but have not yet been implemented by the banks. Or, marketers are looking for best-in-class marketing automation tools that align nicely with sales and CRM systems. That's all happening now.
Q. It's said that centralized data repositories are only as good as the quality and accuracy of the data that goes into them. Where is customer data coming from these days?
A. Customer intelligence is gathered in many ways. The most direct way is through our salespeople. While RMs are tasked with entering this data into CRM systems, we all know this is less than perfect. So, how can we better facilitate the exchange of customer data from Sales? Critical behavioral and opinion data comes out of customer advisory panels, client research and industry reports. I can also see a huge benefit to marketers going out on sales calls with relationship managers. There's no better way to learn what CFOs and treasurers are struggling with day in and day out. That said, creating a repository of all client intelligence is a tremendous challenge for our banks today, largely because of outdated technology and a lack of integration across the technologies.
Q. Is client retention/loyalty a top priority in corporate bank marketing today?
A. Absolutely! We just came through one of the worst financial crises in history, which put client retention in question. In the past five or six years, the emphasis has been on protecting the "base." It's very competitive out there. Our universe on the corporate side is very small, so you better be good when it comes to relationship nurturing. On the other hand, for some banks, acquisitions are a priority for growth.
Q. Is upper management supportive of the value you're describing in keeping existing clients loyal?
A. Yes. Marketing is recognized for its contribution to keeping clients happy. Marketing's job is to create the awareness and open the door to the consideration process. Research points to the need to be partners with clients — to foster transparency, trust and accountability — or they'll go to the competition. This is just good business. There can't be a marketing strategy without a business strategy. They have to be in tandem. Marketing cannot exist in a vacuum.
1The Corporate Financial Group (CFG) is the only membership organization dedicated to wholesale bank marketing. This exclusive network of marketing professionals specializes in the marketing of banking services and products to corporate financial executives. They model best practices in marketing to corporate, commercial, institutional and business products units. For 30 years, CFG has been instrumental in reshaping the marketing landscape in the most prominent banks and will continue to help marketers adapt to new technologies and techniques. For more information, or to become a member, send an email to [email protected], or call Pat Scanlon at (772) 228-8400.