Imagine that you are a football coach, and you’ve designed the world’s most clever play. It’s a variation on the classic “halfback pass,” and you call it at exactly the right time in the big game. The center snaps the ball perfectly to the quarterback, who fakes a handoff one way and then tucks the ball secretly into the running back’s hands. The running back sprints to the outside, then pivots and surprises the defense by passing the ball across the field to the receiver lined up on the other side of the formation. He catches the ball and turns up-field with steely resolve, ready to sprint for the end zone. Unfortunately, the tight end on that side of the line misses his block on the opposition’s all-star outside linebacker, who proceeds to flatten the receiver, cause a fumble and run the ball in for a touchdown.
The play would have worked perfectly if everybody had taken part, but one weak link caused disaster.
It’s unfortunate, but this scenario plays out day after day in small to medium sized banks across the country. Management directs the marketing team to create a brand-building campaign, the marketing team rolls out an attention-getting strategy and the target audience gets a media blitz of on-message communication. Everybody is on board with the new branding except the bank’s own employees, because nobody remembered to include them in the process. For a teller, CSR or lender, there’s nothing quite as frustrating as having a customer ask you about a promotion that you’ve never even heard of. No branding campaign can succeed unless these front-line team members buy into it.
Getting Everybody On Board
That’s not to say that marketing should ask for the staff’s input on every decision they make. Just like coaching, marketing isn’t a democracy. If it was, every marketing campaign would be generic and homogenized, the result of compromise rather than inspiration. But there’s a difference between asking for your team’s vote and asking for your team’s support. If a bank’s management and marketing staff do a good job of explaining the company’s branding goals, then everyone on the team can make sure that their communication is consistent with those goals. For the most part, if you share your strategy and ask for buy-in, your people will give it to you.
It’s really less about “selling” your people and more about simply putting a system in place that includes your people. When they feel like they are an important part of the process, your staff is much more likely to embrace branding as part of their jobs. This goes for every layer in the bank, obviously. Engagement needs to start at the top and spread to every member of the team.
If your internal crew isn’t telling the same brand story as your external media, then you are wasting your money. Make internal buy-in the first step in your marketing efforts and every subsequent step will be more effective. Make sure that everyone is in the huddle when you call the play.
Greg “Hal” Halliday is the president of Anchor Marketing, a branding and new media agency that specializes in successful differentiation and positioning. Anchor Marketing has spent nearly 20 years branding and marketing independent banks in Minnesota and North Dakota. Halliday is recognized as a Certified Financial Marketing Professional by the American Bankers Association. You can contact him via phone at 701-787-8230 or by email at email@example.com.