NEWS OF THE country’s crumbling economy is nothing unexpected at this point. Few even blink at word that the Dow has bottomed out at zero, or that fallen autumn leaves are actually worth more than the dollar now. Instead, many have moved on to making practical, fully reasonable plans for survival, like hunkering down in fallout shelters or starting Mad Max-style motorcycle gangs. Before getting carried away hoarding food, bullets and Parker Brothers products (the only thing worse than an apocalypse is a boring apocalypse), some distributors will be pleased to know there is still economic life in the pre-apocalyptic world. Specifically, many financial institutions are not as doomed as they seem.
When asked if banks, given their current monetary problems, would be shying away from promotional products or advertising in general, all three interviewed suppliers had the same answer: “Definitely not.”
“They are going to tighten their belts, but there are things that they absolutely have to do,” said Karen Sherrill, director of marketing for Hixson, Tennessee-based Gold Bond. “When they can’t make loans, and in 2009 it’s going to be tough to make loans, they’ve got to grow their deposits. They’re going to go after deposits, they’re going to focus on the mom and pops and the retail side of banking. They’re going to do whatever they can to hold onto the customers they have,” she added, noting this is actually a good situation for distributors. Given the lower cost of promotional advertising compared to mass-media ventures, as well as how much easier it is to focus on a target demographic, she explained promotional products are exceptionally well-suited to helping banks out of the current economic situation. Good news, certainly, for distributors looking to do something other than finish up their perfect bomb shelter.
Christoph Beyer, CEO of Valley Stream, New York-based LM Accessoires USA, agreed with Sherrill on the push for deposits and further emphasized the importance of customer retention for banks. “I’d say they still want [to], and they have to spend, because with the bad news coming on right now, they have to keep up their reputation,” said Beyer. He mentioned one of the ways banks build positive brand recognition is to reach out directly with promotional items, using products that either carry messages of
reassurance and security or advertise new services.