Banking Article, Banking Finance 2021, Banking Finance March 2021

Marketing: A Practical Perspective for Field Units

Peter Drucker in the above insightful statement has given a very powerful direction to businesses i.e. to focus on marketing and innovation.

Businesses must have observed that marketing act as a catalyst which improves brand awareness and zooms sales and profits figure.

Simple example can be Sensodyne. A market which was mainly captured by Colgate, was difficult to penetrate for a new brand like Sensodyne. Think for a moment if there was no advertisement of Sensodyne, how many of the consumers would have purchased it.

But, just putting advertisement is not enough, the way it is done is more important. Sensodyne focused on sensitivity issue and all its advertisements are targeted towards creating value in the minds of customers about solving sensitivity problem and therefore this toothpaste brand made its place in shop’s shelf and also in consumer’s home.

Marketing is all about creating value for the customers.

But to create value, we as a brand should know what our customers need, what they want & require. So that companies can develop and customize products and services and communicate their marketing messages in way to satisfy those needs and earn profits for the organization.

Therefore, marketing starts with understanding needs of our customer.

As a banker, in whatever position we are whether front staff , Branch Head, Regional Head or Vertical Heads , we need to ask ourselves ‘Do I understand my customer needs?’

It is the most important question and the answer to this question has potential to give direction to all our marketing efforts.

Thinking of needs should not be done in a general way but it should be done for a specific target customer group because different customers may have different needs & to understand customer needs we must segment our customers and make efforts to know them.

Knowing out customer would mean that we think specifically for a particular segment of our customer and understand his/her behavior and lifestyle.  Let us take an example. Suppose as a Branch Head, we want to devise marketing strategies to gain Home Loan Business.

So the first step would be to know what kind of customers are our home loan borrowers. Look at the existing portfolio of home loans of the branch and zero in about basic pattern of our home loan customer’s life style. For example on observing our home loan portfolio we observe that they are mostly in the age group of 30 to 40 years and have a following kind of lifestyle.

Occupation Salaried : Govt
Family Nuclear
Accommodation Govt allotted
Morning Morning walk in locality park
Office Travel by Metro / Car
Family Spouse working, have small kids
Weekdays In Office
Weekends Mall, Movie, Food Courts, Restaurants
Communication Whatsapp and personal meeting

 

Knowing these kinds of details about our customer would give an understanding of his/her lifestyle that can be utilized to devise marketing strategies

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For example, if we observe in general our customer is health conscious and goes to a locality park for morning walk, perhaps we could arrange a free yoga session and promote our brand among our prospective customers.

Knowing that our customers live in particular societies and they have kids less than 10 years of age, we can arrange a drawing competition for kids of the selected age group on weekends in the society and do a brand promotion and lead generation in a selected and targeted prospective client group.

If we observe that our clients are salaried and go to mall or food courts in the weekends, we can do our promotions and branding exercises in the mall during weekend.

Now after understanding our consumer lifestyle, we know where we need to put our effort. But it is still important to pay attention to what should be the content of our marketing messages.

If we plan to put a hoarding or a banner in a society or in a office or even a standee in our branch, what should be written in it. We need to make sure that the content is targeted to the selected client group and not just some random lines from bank circular.

So for example, in the above case we know that our customer lives in nuclear family so we need to catch on emotions of a nuclear family who are dreaming of an owned house. They are concerned about EMI, they worry about hassles involved in a loan process, so we need to think, how can we present the things that catches the eyes of our customer.

Here is an example of one poster of a financial institution, it has elements to catch on :

  1. EMI thoughts of customers
  2. Income tax saving
  • Nuclear family emotions
  1. Hassle free with the sentence written ‘ completely online, anytime and anywhere’

The whole idea is to stick our brand in consumer minds so that whenever they think of housing loan, our name flashes in their mind.

Let us move one step further & pay a little more attention on behavioral segmentation of customers as in the words of Jon Miller: ‘Knowing who your customers are is great, but knowing how they behave is even better.’

Understanding how our customer behaves will open new dimensions to further improve the effectiveness of our marketing activities.

Start with knowledge, if we observe we will find that if people have knowledge about a thing they feel comfortable in dealing with the same and have a higher frequency of engaging with it. In banks, if we go back to past we will see that there was a tendency that people avoid taking loans but as awareness increased a higher degree of people are now interested in loans. So as a banker our endeavor must be to  provide knowledge to our customers and make them feel comfortable in dealing with it so that the frequency of engaging with our products and services increases.

Second important thing is finding out what our customer worry about and then conveying marketing messages in a way to remove those fears. Take example of online retail marts like Flipkart and Amazon. What do you think what could be a common worry while purchasing items online? Ofcourse it is about the product as consumer are not seeing the product and they may worry what to do in case the product is not upto the mark. How would they return it as there is no store?

These companies knew it and therefore if you see they have advertised a lot about easy return policy removing those fears. In banking context also, if you observe what could be the most common worry of a prospective borrower perhaps it may be the hassles involved, how many documents will be required, how cumbersome is the process, need to visit branch again and again etc. So our marketing efforts & communication need to be such that these worries are taken care and customers are given confidence to not worry about those things.

Third in behavioral segmentation we can think of is social impact. To understand it, let us have a look on an advertisement given below:

This is an advertisement of Coffeemaker in Amazon. Have we ever met any sales man of Amazon or Flipkart? The answer would be no but still they do lot of sales every year. They focus on understanding consumer behavior and devise their marketing strategies accordingly increasing their sales year after year without a salesman.

In the above advertisement, there are a lot of things Amazon has done. For eg.

  1. Cutting the original price and showing the new price with a bigger font
  2. Bold written free shipping
  • Saving written in actual figure as well as in percentage
  1. In blue font written ‘ Free tech support included’

But the point for which I have used this advertisement is 4 star rating with caption BEST SELLER in coffee machines with 5056 customer reviews.

What happens when a customer read the word best selling, it gives customer a sense of assurance that so many people are choosing this one over others, so it must be better than others. This is what we call as having a social impact. We humans look for what others are doing and we also copy it. We can also utilize this concept of social impact for example we can:

  1. Highlighting customer’s testimonials in physical as well as in social platforms.
  2. Highlight if a product is more preferred by customers in your range of products
  • Suppose we are targeting any education institutes like ISB , IIMs etc . We can highlight how many of the students in the earlier years have taken loan from our bank.

The fourth thing we will discuss in behavioral segmentation is Occasions. Think if you see a pattern in consumer’s behavior during certain occasions. For example during festive season people prefer to purchase vehicle. So during festive season we need to focus our marketing efforts in this line of business.

Similarly during marriage seasons, there may be demand of personal loans or loan against property.

The occasions can also be thought of as per individual consumer life events. For example during retirement certain set of financial products may be required.

Now after getting an understanding about demographic and behavioral segmentation, let us have a thought on lead generation and understand the concept of Hotspots of Leads.

Hotspots of Leads:

Let us understand it with the example of housing loan. We need to think where do our customer visit or who are the people he/she meets and discuss about taking housing loan; and then think of what kind of presence do we have in those places and our relationship with these decision impacting people.

For example in the case of housing loan, a prospective buyers may visit builders, property dealers, can do online search,  may discuss with friends and relatives etc. So, accordingly as a banker I need to maintain good relationship with builders, property dealers in our area. Similarly we need to continuously engage with our existing customers who when happy with our services will recommend our name to their friends, family and relatives. Use of digital channel is also highly effective in generating leads.

Pre-approach:

While we are planning to approach a prospective customer, think of a few very important parameters:

  1. Key person
  2. Unique Customer Benefits (UCB):  the product can offer to that prospective client.
  3. Our competitor’s product.
  4. The questions / objections that may come up

Many a times we find that there is a person who can have a consequential impact on our sales effort and he/she can influence the decision of the prospective consumer. We call the person as Key person. As a marketer we need to engage with these key persons and develop a good rapport with them.

Secondly, we need to see our product and think of not only in terms of its USPs but in terms of UCBs as well. The unique benefits that our product can give to the particular client you are going to meet. For example we talk of tax benefits in Housing loan i.e.One of the USP of the product but UCB would be if you know what the annual income of the prospective client is and have a rough estimate of how much actual tax he can save if he takes a housing loan from you.

Another example can be that your home loan product may be having a USP of a higher age limit but UCB would be that your product offers a longer duration which will effectively reduce EMI burden per month for the customer.

Thinking of UCB will channelize our thought and process in creating benefits/value for the customers and improving their satisfaction level resulting into brand loyalty and continued business for us.

Marketing is a very effective weapon we can use to win the battleground of competition. There are some marketing principles thinking of them in practical way with customer at its heart and then devising our marketing plan and tactics will yield better results and maximize profits of business units.

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