Show Me The Money: Selling to Financial Institutions
It seems like a majority of the promotional products we’ve received come from the bank. And, by that, we mean all the pens we use to sign forms and then unintentionally slip into our pockets. Oh well, now we have a lasting memory of where we like to handle our finances.
Financial institutions create a huge amount of opportunities for promotional products distributors for a few reasons. For one thing, there are a lot of banks. According to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), there were 6,799 FDIC-insured commercial banks in the U.S. in February 2014. That doesn’t even take into account how many individual branches each institution has.
However, while distributors might look at this broad picture and decide to start with the biggest and best, that might not actually be the smartest strategy.
It’s OK to Think Small
While it’s natural to immediately go after the biggest fish in the pond and land the largest account, it might not make the most sense for distributors.
According to the American Bankers Association’s Marketing Survey Report, banks with less than $5 billion in assets spent the largest share of their promotion budgets on giveaway items at 32 percent. Larger banks, with more than $5 billion in assets, spent 48 percent of their promotion budgets on point-of-sale materials, like displays, banners and brochures.
So, for distributors, it depends on what they’re trying to sell.
Remember Award Season
Jen Jezierski, marking coordinator for Crystal D, St. Paul, Minn., said that financial institutions are a major part of their business. Financial institutions can use plaques and awards for celebrating employee achievements, awarding certain branches for their sales and growth or for awarding customers.
“We’re asked a lot what the most popular items are in several industries,” Jezierski said. “… We are seeing an increase in 3-D products. Our distributors’ clients really seem to love the idea that they can take a flat image and turn it into this amazing, 3-D image. A great selling point for 3-D products is they can be awards and promotional gifts. A simple crystal cube can be a gift to celebrate the merger of two companies or a launch of a new product, but it can also be used to reward high sales numbers or retirement.”
Jazierski added that financial clients most often use awards for internal objectives, so it’s important for distributors to ask their potential clients exactly what the promotion would be for and tailor it as best they can for the specific application.
She also encouraged distributors to pay attention to their calendars.
“Typically, award season is fourth and first quarter,” she said. “After end-of-the-year numbers come in, that’s when employers usually look for awards. But, that trend has been shifting the past few years. We are seeing more and more organizations, including those in the financial sector, use awards and crystal promotional gifts throughout the year. They are using crystal to promote internal messaging, support their dealer networks and recognize their workforce. Retirement happens year-round, so that is an excellent opportunity for distributors to get a recurring awards program in place.”
Use Your Imagination
Think about the last time you went to the bank. What kind of promotional products were inside? Banks can have a wide variety of items because they have to appeal to many demographics. Banks have pens for customers to use, they have lollipops for the kids whose parents drag them in and some have dog treats for their canine customers who store bones in their vaults. (OK, that last one is a bit embellished, but we have seen dog bones at the teller counter.)
For attracting potential new customers, banks can use just about anything. A well-branded piggy bank could be a daily reminder of the bank’s services. A stress reliever could be a good way to help customers know that their potential new bank won’t cause them stress, and if it does, they have something to take out their frustration.
Items like notepads, cell phone wallets and coin purses, allow end-users to associate things they already use for their financial management with a trusted bank, therefore creating another selling opportunity for distributors.
There are plenty of ideas and applications possible for selling to financial institutions, so when distributors form relationships with their clients and ask exactly what they want and what they need, the business will come. You can bank on that.