Where the industry is headed.

AuthorGilbreath, Bob
PositionThe Future of Marketing - Viewpoint essay

The economy, technology and shifting consumer attitudes have all conspired to push bank marketing in a new direction. In the years ahead, marketers will need to concentrate more on showing how the bank adds value to consumers' lives thus prompting them to voluntarily engage with a bank's marketing. Call this innovative approach "Marketing with Meaning.".

I'll never forget the moment 14 years ago when my biggest and best corporate banking customer called to tell me that he was going to move his account to the bank down the street if I did not match a competitor's offer of a 25-basis-point cut in his term loan rate.

I was a few years out of college and still fairly new to my position as a corporate banking officer at a major regional bank. But I had a good relationship with this customer, built on both several rounds of funding his company's growth, and several rounds of bonding on the golf course. Regardless, he was definitely going to move his account if I did not lower his rate.

That was the day I realized that my money was just as green as the next guy, and there was little more I could do. That was also the day I decided to abandon a career in banking.

Fast-forward through a trip back to business school, a tour of duty in marketing at Procter & Gamble, and several years working with a wide range of companies as the strategy lead in a digital advertising agency--and today I have come back to the future.


Now every single industry is facing the same degree of commoditization and competitive pressure that I ran away from 14 years ago, and there is little we can do to differentiate our products--be they term loans or laundry detergent, But along the way I have discovered how some businesses are finding success by redirecting their marketing spending in a way that adds value to customers' lives. I believe that this next evolution in marketing can specifically help bankers reinvent themselves for the brave new world we live in today.

There is little debate that the historic model of marketing is undergoing wrenching changes. New digital media options are giving people the power to upend the traditional advertising models we have always relied on. Newspapers are folding as people get information on-demand online. Major television networks have only a fraction of their historic audiences, as people prefer to surf among 500 channel choices. And personal media collections like 5,000 songs on an iPod easily replace commercial...

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