There’s a funny meme floating around on the internet that says, “Why do banks lock their pens to the desk? If I’m trusting you with my money, don’t you think you can trust me with your pen?” Once COVID hit, banks, credit unions, and other financial services were forced to stop locking down their writing instruments.
In fact, the widely used promo item became a necessity as safety protocols went into place. One thing is for certain, the “trust” part of that saying still rings true now more than ever. In the financial arena, trust and reputation are integral to building and maintaining customer relationships. (1)
During the pandemic, many financial institutions had to accelerate their digital transformation efforts. As a result, marketing budgets fell to their lowest levels in history, mostly due to the reallocation of funds to support improved digital experiences. (2) The good news is that for 2022, marketing professionals in these industries predict a comparable spend to 2021. With rising costs, however, they are going to have to be smarter about where they put their money. (3) Remembering that trust is king, financial institutions are turning back to their roots to develop marketing programs that speak to current and potential customers.
Sustainability and social responsibility are increasingly important for consumers when making purchasing decisions, and it’s no different when it comes to financial services. More than half the respondents to a recent survey stated that they consider how actively the institution engages with the surrounding community and its positive impact on society at large when choosing a bank. (4)
There are lots of ways for financial institutions to give back to the communities they serve. Many look in their own backyards to find events and organizations they can support. Their employees also hold a wealth of knowledge that they can share with others, whether it’s teaching a financial literacy course at a local high school, volunteering to help a nonprofit with investment advice, or advising senior citizens on how to avoid scams. (5) The financial industry is built on relationships, and community engagement is critical to maintaining those ties.
When a public school wanted to offer a summer lunch program to their most vulnerable students, they reached out to local businesses for help. A local bank offered to provide the Koozie® Six-Pack Kooler Item #45036 for each young participant. Students brought the cooler to the lunch site each day and used it to carry home their sack lunch and cartons of milk.
The bank used the opportunity to invite students to join their savings club, which was free to join and included incentives for good grades and monthly newsletters to build financial literacy. Bank staff members were even given time off work to volunteer at the lunch site. The program was a huge success and a true feel-good story for the community. The bank saw an increase in the number of youth accounts opened and a corresponding increase in adult accounts as well.
Role as Educator
Older Americans have accumulated a record amount of wealth. Experts predict that by 2042 they will hand down roughly $61 trillion to their heirs, many of whom are Millennials and Generation Zers. (6)
Many people may view these younger generations as impulsive. Yet, their experiences living through the 2008 financial crisis (Millennials) and the pandemic (Gen Zers) have shaped their perception of financial health. Members of Gen Z are particularly concerned about their financial futures, with 63% of them saying they wanted to focus on improving their savings in 2022. (7)
When tested for financial literacy, however, both Millennials and Gen Zers got fewer than 50% of questions correct on the P-Fin Index, an annual survey developed by the TIAA Institute and the Global Financial Literacy Excellence Center. (8) Throw in the fact that the youngest Gen Zers are just 10 years old, and there’s a huge opportunity for providing personalized education via the digital platforms these generations have grown up on. Players in the financial industry who recognize this need can provide tools and services that help Gen Zers and Millennials improve their financial literacy, in turn, building trust and loyalty to their brand. (9)
Branches Are Not Going Away
And now back to that locked-down pen. If COVID accelerated many financial institutions’ digital transformations, will there still be a need for physical branches? The answer, in short, is yes. Even though many services have moved online, from making deposits to receiving statements, most people still like having a physical branch nearby. When a question arises about a complex issue, they want the ability to talk to someone in person about it. Even giants like Chase recognize this need. The national bank has branches in all 48 of the lower states and plans to open 400 branches in new markets by the end of 2022. (10)
For those in the promo products industry, that’s good news. These locations provide the perfect opportunity to build brand awareness with those ever-present pens and other top sellers like calendars and Souvenir® Sticky Note™ pads, which all make useful lobby giveaways.