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Optimizing the new media experience

Social media channels can and should be part of a fully integrated marketing plan to reach small-business owners

It depends what drives that particular business owner to succeed — that is, whether he or she is growth-oriented or satisfaction-oriented. Knowing what inspires these account holders, such as a drive for profit or a desire for work-life balance, can increase your chances of selling to them.

Financial institutions targeting small-business accounts would be smart to devote more marketing muscle to mobile advertising and social media. That was the advice offered to financial institution executives who participated in a recent free webinar, "Optimizing the New Media Experience," co-sponsored by Harland Clarke and the Enterprise Council on Small Business (ECSB). The webinar underscored that, as part of a fully integrated marketing plan, these channels can be an efficient way to increase brand awareness and to augment a bank's or credit union's existing marketing strategy.

While all channels are exhibiting rapid growth, mobile advertising in particular is an avenue with wide-open potential for reaching small businesses. ECSB research found that some 25 percent of small-business owners are using or considering using their smart phone to access accounting systems and customer relationship management technology. Overall, 46 percent think they can be more productive with a smart phone, with 60 percent of young entrepreneurs claiming it saves them up to two hours each day. And of course there is the sheer availability of mobile phones. "They are always on," says ECSB Director for Relationship Management Robyn Glue, who co-presented the webinar with Beth Merle, marketing services director with Harland Clarke. "People do not leave the house without them."

tweet imageLikewise, nearly three in four small-business owners said they participated in at least one social network last year, such as Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, versus 57 percent in 2008, according to ECSB. And small-business owners increasingly seek out short videos on corporate websites and on YouTube when they need tutorials or general product information. Glue notes that video creates a lot of online traffic because it is so easy to upload to video-sharing sites. "Video offers access to a wide audience at a low cost and is likely to become a dominant force on the internet," she says.

Adding these new media channels to the marketing mix is a highly cost-effective option that enables financial institutions to do more with less. This is true throughout the entire account holder life cycle, from acquisition and engagement to retention and advocacy building. However, a few general guidelines must be considered when communicating on social and mobile networks:

It is tough to keep anybody's attention for very long in these days of internet surfing, channel flipping and information overload. When using social or mobile channels, the three-part golden rule is this: "Keep it simple, keep it fun and keep it relevant."

Choosing the Right Channel Mix

How do you know which channel is best for your financial institution? The first step is to match the message to the medium. Enterprise Council on Small Business (ECSB) and Harland Clarke took a look at three hot media channels and highlighted how to use each one to reach small-business account holders.

Use Twitter to:

Use online video to:

Use mobile advertising to:

Channel choice changes during the buying process

best channels chart

Matching channels with purposes is the first step in developing a successful multichannel approach.