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VIth Sense: Bank on Bank Research

Posted by Tim Berney

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You know most of what you need to know about your industry, your customers and your competition. You could look at a survey and predict 90% of the answers, right? That’s the story of my career. I know my clients and their industries very well. But I keep pitching primary research to them. And it’s all so that I can make a buck!

My firm contracts our research to third-party firms. We don’t want to influence the data in any way, even subconsciously. So, it’s best that someone else do it these days. We don’t make much managing the project. But, the results are usually so telling that we make plenty of dough by retaining said client — because there’s always a nugget or two of data that we wouldn’t have guessed, and maybe even recommended the opposite.

Case in point: I recently reviewed the results of a survey on the banking industry. We could have predicted that customers choose banks based on the ease of their online banking, their ATM fees and proximity to their home. Yes, proximity to home still matters big time, even though most consumers plan to bank online.

The top reason that consumers choose a bank, though, is the bank’s reputation. Let that simmer for a second… Who talks about their bank? You will when asked, but it’s just behind “garden mulch” on the popular conversation starter list. Yet it tops the list of why people would choose a bank. Sort of makes the case for bank marketing doesn’t it? Promotions, sponsorships, PR, advertising, social media — all communicating why your bank is relevant to the community (especially those who live nearby).

So, that’s pretty good data. But is it really enough to invest in the primary research?

Here’s your gold nugget: No matter where you live, your local/regional banks are trying to separate themselves from the megabanks. And a major message for those banks is that they are locally owned. Collectively, they invest millions of dollars to convince you that there’s a benefit to banking with the local guy. And maybe there is. But, guess what’s near the bottom of the list of the survey on why people choose banks? Yep, just 7% care that it’s locally owned. Everywhere, there’s dozens of banks fighting it out for 7% of the market. Who’d have thunk it?

Bank on the research.

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