In the midst of chaotic times such as these, my mind turns to messaging. Sounds weird, I know. But after 25+ years in marketing, it’s second nature to me. Messaging is the core element of marketing and communications. While everyone is being swamped by information about COVID-19 and its impacts, I’m evaluating which messages work. What’s getting through this tsunami of information? Only the messages that are clear, concise, and targeted specifically to and for recipients are going to resonate. This is especially true in banking right now. 

No one can possibly read through and process all of the news and information flooding their feeds. Everyone’s inbox is crammed with COVID-19 news. Events and face-to-face meetings are now off the table. So, how do business bankers connect with customers and potential clients? The answer is by using specific industry insight. 

Get specific

Bankers are traditionally generalists meeting with an array of businesses in their area. That approach won’t work in today’s chaotic climate. This is the time to become an industry specialist. Even before the pandemic began, vertically-focused banks were getting better results.  I spend a good deal of time in Wilmington, North Carolina, where Live Oak Bank has doubled the amount of loans and leases it has originated over the past four years by focusing on specific industries, such as veterinary practices, agriculture, and pharmacy. 

How do you decide upon which industries to focus? First, take time to determine which industries: 

  • Have a propensity for financial services that match your bank’s goals
  • Meet your bank’s credit standards
  • Are prevalent in your market area
  • Don’t already have intense competition

From there, you can reach out with current, industry-specific information and ask questions highly relevant to your customers’ or potential clients’ businesses. As you typically have to reach out eight to 12 times before getting a response, you may need some help. That’s where Vertical IQ can offer guidance with real-world questions and detailed industry intelligence that aligns with your contacts’ business needs now. 

Once you capture their attention, keep it by steering them toward relevant solutions and services your bank offers that can provide relief during and beyond the COVID-19 outbreak, such as lines of credit, payment options, “sweep” services, ACH, business wires, and more.  

Listen & learn

Obviously, the questions you ask a client or prospect are important. But it’s the follow-up questions and conversations that occur after a conversation that may matter most. Listen carefully to potential and current clients and take good notes during your calls and video chats. 

Then, in your follow-up efforts, focus on the details they have delivered about their business and the current challenges they are facing. An email that includes a few specific details from your original conversation, coupled with an industry- or business-specific article or data point, proves you were listening – and that you can and will continue to deliver more insight and value as your business relationship grows. 

Although capitalizing upon technology can add value to your business banking relationships, lasting relationships are made between people – not digital banking services or bots. That is certainly the case now. After being cooped up in home offices and unable to travel, some folks are more willing to jump on a video chat or take a call. If and when you get that opportunity, capitalize on it with: 

  • Clear, concise industry-specific information to help them navigate the impact of the current global health and financial crises 
  • Patience and active listening to pick up business clues and connect as a trusted advisor 
  • Simple, relatable stories that convey context and meaning around the data you deliver
  • Quickly follow up on immediate concerns and challenges with your bank’s solutions and services

>> Download our free eBook, Beat the Bots: 5 Ways Business Bankers Win in the Age of FinTech and AI