Maine bank uses one-day 'spectaculars' to attract new checking customers.


It's no secret that retailers have long relied on holiday weekends as the time to stage sales events, drawing prospective customers into their shops and showrooms with special offers. In recent years, community banks have discovered that the special event formula also can bring success on the checking account opening front.

Let's look at The First, N.A. (assets: $1.6 billion), a 16-branch community bank based in Damariscotta, Maine. Five years ago, the bank decided to stage its first major checking account opening event. The one-day event featured extended banking hours of 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., special account opening offers, refreshments and prize drawings. Account opening goals were set bankwide, and the bank's marketing department engaged in several months of planning and preparation leading up to the big day.

The First promoted its event through direct mail, in-branch marketing and media advertising for several weeks leading up to the big day. Frontline employees handed out invitations to customers and asked them to bring prospects to the event. Bank employees who work behind the scenes were also asked to participate by handing out invitations to their neighbors, family and friends.

The results exceeded management's expectations. Based on that initial formula, The First has staged two events per year for the past five years. By making refinements and enhancements each time, the bank's results just keep...

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